Like “New Coke,” Tropicana recently made a serious packaging boo boo by “updating” their carton and sacrificing their brand identifiers.  Unfortunately, the carton looked more modern but also lost all the brand identity loyal Tropicana users needed to quickly pick out their favorite juice.  This article comes from designer Patrick Algrin who has a blog (http://hellyeahdude.com/).  It is a quick overview of the impact from a consumer’s and researcher’s perspective

Tropicana’s branding revert, proving the power of focus groups

Feb 26, 2009

Tropicana reverts branding change

Tropicana’s original package design next to the new package design that was eventually taken off shelves

The environment of which your focus group takes place is just as important as the actual product you are testing

It’s old news by now, that Tropicana reverted back to their old packaging. But if you have been out of the loop for a couple of days or weeks, well then here is the down-low. Tropicana decided it was time for a change, and decided it would be best to push towards a clean package design and identity for the very well known orange juice. After much disappointment and customers calling the new packaging “generic,” Tropicana quickly reverted back to the old package design before losing any more sales.

 

Now, let me speak on behalf of my own experiences. One Sunday I was in a hurry for breakfast with the family, and found that we were out of orange juice. I ran to the local Jewel where I was attempting to find orange juice. The wall of juices that I encountered did make me step back for a moment. It felt as though I had over 100 types of juices to choose from. I attempted to find Tropicana but for some reason it took me 5 minutes to do so. I couldn’t find it because the new package design for Tropicana looked like the Jewel brand, which I didn’t want.

Overall my experience made me take more time to find Tropicana, which isn’t good. Most people are in a hurry and as we all know in User Experience, if it takes someone a long time to find something, 80% of the time, they will just give up.

So what can we all take from this? When doing your focus group, the environment of which your group is taking place is just as important as the focus group itself, if not more. If the company or internal design team would have just taken the new packaging and put it on a huge wall of other orange juices, they would have noticed right away that the new design just didn’t stick out. Point and case.

Next time you do a focus group (with family, friends, customers, consumers, or anyone) be sure that you put them in a situation that the product is often in. In this case, a grocery store.