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Listening to your Consumers

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Tropicana found out the hard way that consumers who are passionate about the brand, will talk about the brand; and it’s not always in the most positive light. In January, Tropicana launched a new packaging design for its Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice. Previously, the design featured an orange with a straw sticking out. The brand name with the type of juice, such as “No Pulp” stood out on the design. The new design features a glass of orange juice, with less prominence placed on the brand and type of OJ, and more on the “100% orange” guarantee.

Upset consumers wrote letters, emails, and called to complain about the new packaging. They even turned to social networks to rally against the new design. If you search for “Tropicana packaging” in Facebook, 4 group profiles appear with names such as “I loathe the new Tropicana repackaging.” These group pages may not have a lot of members (the one I mentioned only had 99), but Tropicana took notice.

Tropicana underestimated the emotional bond that consumers had with the brand. As a result of consumer feedback, Tropicana is pulling the redesigned packaging from the shelf in favor of the previous packaging. A recent NY Times article by Stuart Elliot, stated that “It was not the volume of the outcries that led to the corporate change of heart,” because according to Neil Campbell, president at Tropicana North America, “it was a fraction of a percent of the people who buy the product.” However the feedback was from loyal consumers who are passionate about the brand.

“You used to wait to go to the water cooler or a cocktail party to talk over something,” said Richard Laermer, chief executive at RLM Public Relations in New York. “Now, every minute is a cocktail party,” he added. “You write an e-mail and in an hour, you’ve got a fan base agreeing with you.”

This is a good example of how a company has listened to its consumers and made changes in response to feedback. Social media has helped to build relationships between companies and consumers. However, instead of being reactive to consumer feedback, companies need to embrace social media to gather feedback before something such as a package redesign launches. Tools such as polling and surveying on Facebook can give companies insight into the minds of the consumer. As Mr. Campbell mentioned, “…if consumers are speaking, you have to listen.”

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