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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Is Packaging Design Moving Down-Market?

Chatting recently with colleague Andrew Carnwath about packaging design, he mentioned the new Tropicana look. His take on the new design is that it looks less expensive now (i.e., cheaper). The conversation prompted me to take a look at Tropicana--and some broader questions.

Others have shared Andrew's observation that the new design looks cheaper. As noted by the folks at Under Consideration on their "Brand New" blog: "This new packaging feels, at best, like a discount store brand with what looks like, again, at best, rights-managed stock photography if not outright royalty free."



And the folks at Brand Curve observed that the new design looks generic, stating: "I'm assuming that Tropicana didn’t mean to turn its packaging into a generic knock-off, but that’s exactly what’s happened. They’re not fooling anyone. The cheap looking 7-11-esque packaging doesn’t make me feel any better about forking over a whole lot of money so my kids can get their Vitamin C in the morning."

To its credit, Tropicana has dealt with the packaging redesign on its Web site, providing a nifty, helpful "juice finder" application. I'll give them credit for that. Tropicana explains, "We've given our products a little love - or squeeze - as we call it. It's a new look and a new energy, but when it comes to the juice, it's just the way you like it."

In times of economic recession, does it make sense for a company to position its product line(s) as more affordable? Is it smart for a company, like Tropicana (owned by Pepsi), to use a down-market design of packaging to broaden its appeal. Perhaps they were intentionally attempting to give Tropicana a more affordable, broader look and feel. Such moves could conceivably increase sales and resonate with new market segments. Conversely, a down-market move could also backfire. The old design is shown below for your reference.

So, marketing geniuses, what do you think? Was it an intentional, strategic design move? And in the general sense, do you like or dislike the new Tropicana package design?

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15 Comments:

OpenID popsocial said...

I don't think the aim of this packaging was to cheapen the look of Tropicana.Though I like your reasoning.

But has been the recent trend over the last five years to simplify package to its core elements. Both Coke and Pepsi have done this over the last couple years. Apple have been presenting simple stylish packaging for years.

I think it stems from the idea that less is more. But getting the balance right is important. Sometimes there's not much between minimal and cheap-looking and things like what the package is made of and it's printing process behaviours and tactile feel need to be addressed. I'll have to pick up a carton of the new Tropicana and review it next time I'm in store (do they sell it in London?)

5:19 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with popsocial. Typically, a more sparse and "modern" design is more associated with more exclusive products.

I also think the Juice Finder on Tropicana's site is silly. People really need to learn to read. If anything, the new package labels like "Pulp Free" are easier to read now.

9:26 AM

 
Blogger Erin Deegan said...

While it's a good design in my eyes... it doesn't say much. At least the orange with the straw in it screamed, "All natural, fresh, delicious!"

The new one says, "This is orange juice"

Perhaps they could have freshened up/simplified the orange from the old packaging?

9:58 AM

 
Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

popsocial / Miles,

Thank you so much for your insightful comment. I am a big fan of the simple, elegant solution, especially in design. And I totally agree that the packaging materials (in addition to the artwork) will have an important impact. Let us know what you think, once you've picked up a carton or bottle of it.

Hope we'll "hear" your voice again soon in this community of marketing genius!

Skip

1:01 PM

 
Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Erin -

Thanks for your comment. I always love to hear your view on such matters. This new one from Tropicana does have a bit of a 'generic' feeling, doesn't it.

Skip

1:03 PM

 
Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Dear anonymous poster,

So glad you joined this online conversation. Thanks for your comment. I hope everyone feels free to diasagree or take me to task whenever they are so inclined.

Love your comment: "People really need to learn to read." Reminds me of statements often heard from our copy writers, especially those in advertising.

Skip

1:07 PM

 
Anonymous Jason Keeling said...

"This is orange juice."

Well put Erin, because that's the message this packaging projects, particularly in comparison to the former labeling.

It doesn't make sense, that Tropicana would re-package a "cheaper" look, while their pricing remains the same.

4:45 PM

 
Blogger wvniessners said...

I love the new design! I definitely feel like it's more modern and clean looking rather than cheap. The visual appeal to me is the offset of the photo, logo and other print compared to the old brand that was all centered on each side of the carton. I'm silly but it makes me want to buy it!

1:03 PM

 
Blogger Carrie said...

I was particularly struck by the quote:
...They’re not fooling anyone. The cheap looking 7-11-esque packaging doesn’t make me feel any better about forking over a whole lot of money so my kids can get their Vitamin C in the morning."

Which leads me to my thought. Is this change in brand image to a more 'afforable' look a bit of trickery? Because afterall, is the product itself actually CHEAPER or just made to LOOK CHEAPER?

4:19 PM

 
Anonymous M said...

I feel like they were attempting a more sleek; stream-lined design, but absolutely agree that it looks a very generic store brand.

11:02 PM

 
Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Jason-

Thanks for joining the conversation and sharing your views on this topic. Glad to hear from you. I can see your side of the issue. We were just postulating: in this recessionary economy in the US, will some companies attempt to reposition downward to appear more affordable?

Skip

7:52 AM

 
Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

wvneissners,

Thanks for jumping in on this topic. Nice to hear your voice and your opinions in this online community of marketing geniuses!

Skip

7:53 AM

 
Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Carrie-

Thanks for adding your views and observations. Loved the question you raised!

Skip

7:55 AM

 
Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Dear M-

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear your views and observations on this topic. While opinions on this topic differ, I tend to land on your side.

Skip

7:57 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skip,

I saw the new packaging recently, twice, didn't give it much thought, but did have a split second reaction.

First time, my reaction:

"That's strange that changed their packaging?"

Second time in the same week, "I just don't like that."

So, I didn't give it a tremendous amount of thought, but both my quick one second mental notes were negative.

M. Ballard

8:25 PM

 

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