As Coca-Cola's new CEO, James Quincey, recently told CNN, "We've got to try things. Not all of them will work. We don't need to get too upset when we have failures. We need to learn, move on and reinvent."
That could be applied to a development considered by PepsiCo's Frito-Lay Division of 'lady-friendly' Doritos that don't crunch and leave no flavor residue. The company hasn't announced what these new "snacks for her" will look or taste like, but apparently the maker of Doritos and Cheetos is getting ready to launch several female-focused products soon.
PepsiCo's CEO Indra Nooyi said in a recent podcast interview with Freakonomics Radio, the company is looking at ways to develop "women-friendly chips" that leave no flavoring residue on fingers and have a less audible crunch. Nooyi said these are two traits women don't like. "As you watch a lot of the young guys eat the chips, they love their Doritos, and lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth," she said. "Women, I think, would love to do the same, but they don't."
Ahh but they do, Ms. Nooyi. I've never seen any woman shy away from licking her fingers after eating Cheetos. Frito-Lay's snacks are addictive for those qualities of crunch and flavor. The orange residue left behind by Doritos chips and Cheetos can be considered one of the joys in life. With Cheetos, it's such a big phenomenon, it even has its own name: Cheeto Fingers.
One Chicago Tribune reporter mentioned most of the lady snackers they’ve known "can and will straight up murder a bag of salty chips, regardless of the less-than-delicate crunch and chip dust. Why must Lady Doritos happen, and will the ladies be getting other patriarchal foodstuffs? Perhaps we can get Lady Utz too, and Lady M&Ms and Lady Snickers (too gooey for ladies!) and Lady Pizza."
It's great that PepsiCo wants to cater to its female customers, but that crunch and flavor are big reasons women buy these snacks. If they weren't crunchy, and weren't dusted with flavor, the chips might mistakenly be suspected as being stale.
On Feb. 5, however, PepsiCo refuted reports claiming the company was developing a more polite "Doritos for women," specifically. "The reporting on a specific Doritos product for female consumers is inaccurate," a spokesperson told Ad Age. "We already have Doritos for women–they're called Doritos, and they're enjoyed by millions of people every day. At the same time, we know needs and preferences continue to evolve and we're always looking for new ways to engage and delight our consumers."
We hope so. Whether the company releases a low-crunch women-friendly chip or not, food brands have successfully created and marketed many products targeting women without going too far. Women consumers make as much as 80 percent of all consumer purchases, so it's logical to appeal to them with all of their spending power. Yet how products attract female consumers is crucial.
The proposed Frito-Lay snacks "for her" could appeal if marketed as a snack with less mess, just as Stacy's Pita Chips, Sun Chips and others like Lay’s Lightly Salted chips have focused on better-for-you attributes. We're confident Frito-Lay will find other ways to stay on-trend while meeting evolving consumer preferences and expectations of what a global food company can provide.