Doritos has been slammed for its "snacks for women" plan

Posted by
Emily Reynolds
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

Product development and advertising aimed at women sometimes gets it right – and sometimes gets it very, very wrong. And Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi has got it very, very wrong…

Millions of pounds are put into product development every year – and sometimes it results in amazing new products. Take this updated version of a tampon, for example, which features an applicator tampon with a mini-liner attached to prevent any unwanted leakage. Innovation: sometimes extremely good.

Unfortunately, companies don’t always get it right. Case in point: a new interview with Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi. Pepsi own a number of snack brands including Doritos and, speaking on the Freakonomics podcast, Nooyi told host Stephen Dubner that the company is developing new, women-only snacks because… we hate crunching, apparently?

“I understand that men and women eat chips very differently,” Dubner said. “Can you tell us the differences?”. 

The difference, according to Nooyi, is that “young guys…eat the chips, love their Doritos, and they lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth, because they don’t want to lose that taste of the flavour, and the broken chips in the bottom.”

But women? We’d “love to do the same”, apparently, but “don’t”. 

“They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public,” Nooyi explained. “They don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavour into their mouth”. 

Because of these completely undeniable scientific facts, the company is “looking into” designing and packaging women-only snacks and “getting ready to launch a bunch of them soon”. The focus on this development is the “low-crunch” (because we hate crunching, remember?), on the flavour not “sticking on fingers”, and that all-important factor: “how can you put it into a purse?”. “Women love to carry a snack in their purse,” Nooyi said. 

Extremely surprisingly, women have not responded to the plans with the full zest and zeal you might expect upon hearing that a company is specially designing low-volume crisps for them to keep in their handbag. 

As we all know, sexist products are nothing new. In 2017, Bic came under fire for marketing a “Miss Bic Flex” gas lighter. Curved to fit into delicate lady hands, the lighter was also pink (obviously) and…a dollar more expensive than the regular, manly version! 

The company hasn’t had much luck in this area. In 2015, Bic was also forced to apologise after sharing an inspirational message for International Women’s Day encouraging women to “look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss”, a message that went down about as well as you might expect. On top of this, Bic was also the creators of the now infamous “Bic for Her” range of pens, which were “designed to fit comfortably in a woman’s hand” and were, again, pink. 

Pritt Stick had a similar PR disaster when it tried to launch a pink “Just For Girls” glue stick. 

So next time you’re struggling to hold a pen designed for a man, or don’t have a pink glue stick to hand when you need one, don’t worry – you can always calm down with a handy crunch-free handbag snack. Thanks, Pepsi! 

Image: Guillaume Bolduc