Tropicana and the importance of consistent package design
Let me start with a photograph so you can see what I'm talking about:
It's Tropicana orange juice and you've probably seen it (well, the old packaging, on the left) in the local supermarket. Tropicana, it turns out, is a division of Pepsi Corporation (NYSE:PEP) (just as Minute Maid is a division of Coca-Cola Corporation (NYSE:KO), but you knew this, right?) and a few months ago it had a remarkable misstep with its packaging design...
If you do have a chance to get the packaging on the right, buy it and save it. It's a collector's item.
Turns out that in January of 2009 Tropicana introduced the new package design as part of a $35mil advertising and branding campaign, with the theme "Squeeze it's a natural", created by Peter Arnell. Within weeks loyal customers were complaining about the new package, saying that they missed the orange-and-straw graphic of the original. By the end of February The New York Times was reporting that Tropicana had changed its mind and was going back to the earlier packaging.
And über-designer Arnell's explanation? "emotionally, it's still very, very difficult to, and it still remains difficult, for everyone to grasp the importance of the [packaging] change because it's so dramatic." Uh, um, yeah, okay Peter.
That's old news, really. I mean, four months in Internet time is like five years in academia, right? :-)
What's interesting is to go back and really think about what transpired, why, and what it implies in terms of the ceaseless vox populi drumbeat of the Internet.
Let's be candid. A tiny but vocal minority of customers didn't like the new packaging. But so what? Does that really matter in this modern age? Would people really stop buying a product simply because the packaging changed?
Surprise! Yes they would: AdAge reported that "After its package redesign, sales of the Tropicana Pure Premium line plummeted 20% between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22, costing the brand tens of millions of dollars."
That's where it becomes important and where it's a story worth thinking about carefully. By changing the packaging of a commodity beverage product, Pepsi lost tens of millions of dollars. This isn't a brand new package with a poor design either (consumers will often forgive poor package design if the product's good and if the design improves over time), but a strong existing brand (Tropicana sees over $300mil in annual OJ sales).
Unlike the earlier debacle with New Coke, there was no reformulation or change in the product itself. Just the picture on the carton.
I love this quote from a FastCompany article on the subject:
"Sometimes you land in a great place, and sometimes you don't. And when you don't, you need to find a better place. Fast," Pepsi's CMO, David Burwick conceded. At the end of the table, one of his lieutenants could barely conceal a snicker. "Words like 'tweak' are in order," he said. "Or beyond 'tweak.'"
If you're involved in the visual design and layout of your company's Web site, marketing collateral or packaging, this should all make you take a deep breath and feel, perhaps, just a tiny bit anxious. Customers really are that fickle, really are paying attention, really are that brand disloyal.
Next time you think about a redesign, it'd be smart to keep that in mind.
Apple launches the PlayTV DVR and casual gaming console?
I'm not the only person to remember the ill-fated Apple Pippin, launched in conjunction with gaming company Bandai in the mid-1990s. Yes, you might be surprised, not everything with an Apple logo on it is a success.
But quite a bit has changed since then, perhaps the most important of which is the tremendous success of the gaming side of the iPhone Application Store. How important is that? Check out the following quote from this Reuters article:
The Apple/Bandai Pippin
"With around 30 million devices on the market -- 17 million iPhones and 13 million iPod Touches -- and access to thousands of games at their slightest whim, consumers are buying and playing games by the tens of millions."You read that right, tens of millions of games have been downloaded - many of which were purchased - and are residing on iPhones and iPods throughout the United States and any other country where the devices are sold and supported.
When I counted, I have 45 games on my own iPhone, of which about 20% were paid, a number of which cost $9.99. I figure a total investment of perhaps $50 for games on my iPhone. I am probably not a typical iPhone user (yeah, I admit it) but still, if you just do the math, there are tens of millions of games being downloaded, representing tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transactions.
Remember, that's in less than a year: the iPhone App Store only went live in July of 2008, so it's been around for less than a year.
Just as one example, game developer Gameloft offers almost 30 games in the App Store and tells Reuters that it's sold 2 million copies so far. Even at $0.99/game that's two million dollars in revenue. Not too bad.
Nay-sayers aside, I think this demonstrates that in the handheld arena, at least, Apple's figured out how to effectively and successfully penetrate the gaming arena.
The other piece of this puzzle is the AppleTV, rather a sleeper device. It's not a best seller, but that's because it remains somewhat of a one-trick pony. But what would it take for Apple to make it a digital video recorder (a DVR), slap a much bigger drive into it (the biggest you can get today is 160GB, but I'd want a 500GB drive, personally) and add Netflix, Hulu and/or Amazon video support in addition to the iTunes store, and you've got one heck of a great gizmo to hook up to your video sources.
AppleTV + iPhone Games = Apple PlayTV
What if this device could directly play iPhone games too? What if iPhone game developers were offered incentives to redo their graphics to support a larger HD display and resubmit them to the PlayTV store in addition to the iPhone store?
Imagine we can somehow put 'em together while retaining a focus on casual games that are primarily intended to last 10-15 minutes maximum (think of Tetris, Bejeweled, card games, simple strategy title, or something aimed at children) and you have one heck of a cool device and system, don't you?
Better yet, by focusing on the massive and growing casual game market, this leaves Apple able to sidestep competing with the hardcore gaming platform systems (e.g., the Microsoft Xbox, the Sony Playstation-3 and the Nintendo Wii) which, after all, are also essentially one-trick ponies too.
Gamers won't buy the PlayTV, but do we care? I would be delighted to have an all-in-one unit that offered all of the features and capabilities I list here, including a library of thousands upon thousands of fun, casual games, many of which were free and some of which were anywhere from $0.99 on up.
The market's proven. The companies are already writing the games. The software development kit (SDK) is in the developer community. And we all have TVs, most of which are now HD-capable.
Will Apple take the plunge? I hope so. I'd buy one.
"Ask Dave Taylor" is now a registered service mark!
Many years ago I watched the international thrashing over who owns which domain name, especially the World Intellectual Property Organisation involvement, with great trepidation. Then I got into various legal scuffles with large corporations like Southwestern Bell and Porsche and decided that the time had come for me to lock down ownership of my own intellectual property.
Most entertaining was my legal dispute with the litigious Tommy HIlfiger, but that's a story for another blog entry (or, better, a more amusing story to be told in person).
As a result I applied for and ultimately received a registered trademark (well, service mark) for the domain name intuitive.com. Yes, that should properly be written as "intuitive.com®".
A year or two ago as I watched Ask Dave Taylor.com really take off and become a popular, successful site, I decided I would seek to trademark the Ask Dave Taylor brand too.
This week I received notification from the US Patent and Trademark Office that I'd been awarded just that, and now if you look on the site you'll see that it's "Ask Dave Taylor®".
What I realized when looking at the legal documents from the USPTO is that precious few people - particularly in the entrepreneurial space - have seen a trademark award document...
Continue Reading ""Ask Dave Taylor" is now a registered service mark!"
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