You may have heard about the brouhaha over at Tropicana Orange Juice. Tropicana Orange Juice (yes, it really is delicious) changed its carton. The only problem with the change is that the loyal Tropicana shoppers hate the new container. They hate it so much that they complained en masse in emails, letters and phone calls. So what’s the big deal? It is a box after all. But it got me thinking about what this orange juice container change is really all about.
Tropicana is owned by PepsiCo. They’ve been known to have some pretty savvy marketers working for them. What were they thinking when they decided to make the container change? Did they ask customers if they wanted a new container? Apparently not since some of the loyal ones said the new container makes it harder to buy Tropicana. The new box makes it hard to distinguish Tropicana from other types and brands. So why change something that must have been working?
I often wonder about decision making at large organizations. It’s almost like if you’re not changing something, you’re not working and you may be out of a job. Where is it written that any change in business is a good thing to do?
It reminds me of my days in the oil business. We had promotional programs for our distributors. Every year we came up with new programs where we spent millions of dollars to get new business through our distributors. One year we focused on paying distributors to get product training. The next year we rewarded our distributors who purchased equipment for their customers. Every year the areas and programs were different.
Now put yourself in the position of a distributor doing an annual forecast for your business. You have to factor in a significant budget contribution from your oil supplier. The only problem is that you don’t know what the amount will be or if you can use the program in your business. That’s what we were doing.
One year, the marketing department asked several large customers what kinds of marketing programs they wanted to see. The answer was shocking. The distributors wanted the program to stay the same each year so it could be predicable and they actually could plan business strategies to use it. What a concept–not changing something that’s working! Even better is listening to your customers before you make a change. Change just for the sake of change is nuts.
In business, change is not always a good thing. I would like to think that before a change is considered, the people involved are asking themselves a couple of questions. Here are a few I would ask. What’s not working? Why is it not working? How do we know for sure? What could happen if we make the change–both good and bad?
I’ll bet Tropicana never asked those questions