Don’t Let the Packaging Fool You: Tropicana and Poland Spring

Paint Water and orange juice are two of my favorite drinks.  My family just bought a Poland Springs water cooler to put in my kitchen.  I love fresh squeezed OJ with a great Sunday morning breakfast while reading the Boston Globe. My kids hate the pulp so we buy Tropicana OJ, which to me is remarkably consistent and tastes great.  Recently I noticed both of these brands try to pull a fast one, or at least it appears so to me.

Each company has been recently hyping up changed packaging while the customer pays more for the product.  I’m all for fancy retail packaging, but when you change the container and reduce the amount of product for the same price then I think customers should be warned. 

Img00084First, Tropicana.  Tropicana is playing a lot in interactive marketing with the launch of their Tropicana Pure product line.  This link, to a site trying to tie sight and sound online to drinking expensive juice in real life, has been going around Twitter with a title of "OJ porn" (no, not that OJ):  Perhaps Tropicana is just trying to change their image to a more premium juice, who knows.  Admittedly I don’t have all my facts together here, but I have been buying the juice in large plastic (recyclable) containers for quite some time.  The old package had 96 oz and used to cost around $5 when not on sale.  It was heavy and had a large circular pouring spout.  The new "improved" pouring technology, including a kinder, gentler handle and an oval instead of round spout, costs $4.99 as you can see here in this photo I took today at the market (yes, I drove there to make a point).  How much juice fits in this new-supposed-to-improve-my-drinking-experience container?  89 oz.  That’s seven ounces less.  I noticed the market quickly phased out the old 96 oz container.  So now Tropicana is making a few more margin points on juice, and I’m starting to question whether it’s worth it.

PolandspringsSecond, and perhaps more noticeable, Poland Spring.  Before we bought the 3-gallon-jugs-piling-up-in-my-garage delivery service, we would buy single gallons.  You know, those typical containers that milk comes in, which invariably cause 4-year-olds to spill half the container on the kitchen table when they try to pour on their own.  $1.29 for one, can’t beat that (unless you have figured out that tap water is just fine).  Poland Spring recently launched a clear container that is ergonomic (although I would say arguably harder to pour when full) and stackable.  If you are in the habit of buying large amounts of single gallon containers, are short on storage space and hate foggy plastic – these containers are for you!  Except they will cost you more per gallon.  Sure, they are also $1.29 each, but they contain less water.  They are sold side by side in Stop & Shop.  It costs $1.63 per gallon (unit price) for the same water, new fancy container.

Don’t be duped – fancy packaging doesn’t always mean a better product, and the same price doesn’t always mean the same amount of the product.  In this case, it means we are just going to pay more if we buy it.  Do you buy it?  What other packaging dupes are out there?  Is anyone from either of these companies listening?

(photo credit: dreamsjung via flickr)