A great product may just get turned into a hopeless also ran in the market place if it is not packaged right. Surely that’s reason enough to consider this aspect of your marketing program very seriously

This year, PepsiCo has found a mantra to breathe new life into its beverage category. The buzz word is “Refresh Everything.” With this focus, the company plans to reinvent the brand and fill it with the spirit and optimism of youth. Massimo d’ Amore, CEO, PepsiCo North America Beverages, said, “Today, people want beverages to refresh more than their taste buds... this is what our brand reinvention strategy is all about and we’re introducing new identities, new packing and holistic marketing campaigns designed to inspire people of all generations,” as according to them, their beverages have always been at the centre of popular culture, where they have energized new generations for years. The 60-second “Pepsi Pass” video on You Tube takes the winning mantra forward by claiming “Every generation refreshes the world… now it’s your turn.”

With a series of new advertisements & new packaging, the company marched ahead on this exciting plan, in the beginning of this year. It refreshed (read: modified) a lot of things; like refreshed the Pepsi logo, the Mountain Dew font and the packaging of its premium category orange juice Tropicana, among other things. The company invested $35 million to roll out this new look of Tropicana. Now, instead of its trademark “orange-with-the-straw” image, the Tropicana carton featured a glass full of an orange juice, while the cap was designed to look like an orange. The result – after the launch of the packaging on January 1, 2009, the sales of Tropicana had plummeted by 20% by the end of February.

It couldn’t get more shocking. A brand that was nurtured and grown for 30 years lost one-fifth of its customers in fewer than 60 days. To make matters worse, not just did Tropicana’s market share drop, but that of its competitors increased; i.e. Coca Cola, Minute Maid and various other brands, including private-label products, posted a double digit unit sales increase during this period! So what went wrong? In its bid to reinvigorate the brand and make new emotional connections, the company lost sight of the most important factor – customer experience. That is, the shopping experience of the customer. The new package design, though classy, actually confused the customer. The new design lacked the distinctive personality of the “Orange-with-the straw” image. Maybe it was not classy, maybe a lot of people didn’t care much about it, yet the “Orange-with-the-straw” made the carton stand out on the shelves of supermarkets and made it easier for the customer to grab the juice of their choice. The new design could not stand out and made the brand look generic. No one in their wildest dreams could predict that a change in packaging could cause such a steep and unthinkable fall in sales. The company, of course, has immediately discontinued the new packaging & brought back the original, but this big goof-up definitely gets one thinking.

The silent salesman
Very often, “packaging” is referred to as the silent salesman – speaking volumes, without saying a word! Packaging conveys a very strong marketing message. It’s packaging that a lot of seasoned marketers are turning to, during these times to boost sales. Frito-Lay’s new Smart Food popcorn is now coming in a smaller pack – as research revealed, women (who are its target customers) preferred smaller, portioned packaging for their snacks. Pepsi is bringing back its retro-style packing for Pepsi Cola and Mountain Dew – reminiscent of the 60’s & 70’s. Starbucks is planning to roll its ice-cream into grocery stores this summer and its packaging for the new super premium flavors emulates the company’s iconic white cup – so that loyal customers can recognize it in a glance. Mango Frooti is going in for innovative packaging to help increase sales this summer. It’s now offering a Frooti devil pack and a Frooti cupid pack – to make it look more contemporary and appealing to the youth and to enhance its image. Sprite also comes in a smaller version called Sprite Xpress now – in sync with the on-the-move lifestyle of the youth. Women’s Horlicks was the best ever launch for GlaxoSmithKline last year – primarily due to the unique design of the bottle, which was shaped like a woman’s form – and woman loved it! Old brands need to change with the times to remain relevant to the new generation & a new packaging helps in doing just that. Old brand Sunsilk became youthful & trendy last year with its new packaging.     Read More....

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