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Tropicana switches from carton to plastic

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Is Pepsi So Green After All?

Pepsi is switching to crystal carafes with its Tropicana brand as widely reported in February. What was not so widely reported was that the reasoning appears to be lack of transparency with carton. Pepsi claims that their biggest consumer insight is that consumers would like to see the juice.

Consumers Prefer Transparency, Really?

While it is indeed true (and old news) that consumers prefer transparency, consumer tests with the strongest findings are typically done in isolation. As Tropicana is offered in a variety of formats, if one format was overwhelmingly preferred than the other, PepsiCo would have seen this time and again over the years. That clearly is not the case.

There are two factors to consider here. One is the opposite sensory appeal deliverables of one format against the other. Carton offers down to earth, wholesome texture and on occasion, a matte finish that consumers prefer. On the other hand, plastic not only delivers transparency, but also gloss which can be appropriate for juices. Consumers typically do not show an overwhelming choice of one over the other in properly designed studies.

The other factor is environmental. Carton offers renewability and perceived recyclability. If you are not holding your breath for Pepsi’s green bottle, then plastic offers recyclability and no renewability. In conjoint studies, perceived environmental impact of either format has been in opposing corners, but with carton having an edge. So then, how come Pepsi is telling us all of a sudden that consumers prefer transparency, therefore plastic.

Coke and Pepsi Legal Battle

Coke sued Pepsi last year for using a plastic bottle too close in design to Simply juice’s signature bottle design. The litigation is still ongoing.

While Coke has recently surpassed Minute Maid in sales volume, it still trails Tropicana, Pepsi’s premium positioned brand. It seems that Pepsi is trying to refresh the brand image to compete against Coke, but is using ‘consumer insight’ story to avoid further legal hassle with Coke.

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