Your performance review is a repackaging opportunity… just ask Tropicana Orange Juice

Packaging matters when customers choose one brand over another. In early 2009, Tropicana and its media agency decided to give a fresh look to its Pure Premium Orange Juice carton and take away the classic “orange with straw” in favor of a “glass of juice.” (See chart below)

Tropicana then recognized its folly when its customer analytic tools received comments such as “ugly”, “stupid” and “store brand.” In the New York Times article,” Tropicana Discovers Some Buyers Are Passionate About Packaging” on February 22, 2009, called this series of events  “PepsiCo has its own version of New Coke.”

Tropicana took immediate action and pulled the packaging from the stores in favor of its original package. Over the next couple of years it launched new products within their Trop50 line and began to get feedback from customers who remarked how much they enjoyed the transparent package. Based on this insight, Tropicana decided to use the same transparent package on Tropicana Pure Premium.

In the context of your career, a performance review (formal or informal) is no different than a customer review of your package.  For example, a 360 performance review allows for multiple customers to weigh in on your “package.”

360 reviews can evoke interesting feedback:

  • Are you a star performer, but there are a trail of dead bodies along the way, because of your abrasive work style?
  • Are you a good performer who is well liked, but colleagues just don’t see you as assertive?
  • Do your colleagues value your work, but don’t see you as a leader, because of the informal language you use?
  • Are you perceived as unapproachable even though you might just be a little shy?

Make sure you accept feedback you receive in a 360 review immediately and genuinely.  This is your opportunity to repackage your orange juice.  Calm, cool and objective wins the day in this situation. While the review may be about you, don’t fall in the classic trap of becoming defensive about any negative comments.  Your reviewer likely didn’t enjoy delivering the negative comments, so don’t add any more tension to the situation by putting on a show.

This is an opportunity to probe further and ask for direct suggestions from your reviewer on what improvements would lead to a more favorable view of your package.  Once you have come to an agreement on a plan to improve this perception gap, ensure that it is documented in your review.  Additionally, as you work to improve these perceptions to touch base  with your reviewer throughout the year to gauge progress on your “repackaging” work.

Just as Tropicana did, you too can be open to reviews and then ACT on them. Inside you are always the same great juice; but modify your package so your customer will choose you for that next project and eventually that promotion!