Today in products-we-never-asked-for, we have a highly visible company -- a company whose products you've likely come across in the last 24 hours -- whose new snack line will be geared toward "just for women."
It's PepsiCo. And you can expect to hear from every corner torrential cries of feminists gripping the company's latest chips in development -- a potato chip snack line with a woman's sensibilities in mind.
Let's break this down. PepsiCo's "chips for her" are presumably the male counterpart of snacking, which, according to CEO Indra Nooyi, entails a lot of unencumbered snack-eating (i.e., "they lick their fingers with glee"). In an interview with Freakonomics Radio, Nooyi offered up her soft pitch of why women would love a female-centric snack.
Apparently, women "don't like to crunch too loudly in public" and "don't lick their fingers generously" and would rather deny the satisfaction of pouring "the little broken pieces and the flavor in their mouth."
And the reasoning behind this bold, risky statement? "Women I think would love to do the same, but they don't," Nooyi said. They just don't.
The product reinforces controversial stereotypes that women are finicky, dainty, fastidious in their eating habits. Nooyi did not reveal much about the new product line but discussed what factors are being considered in the development process.
The snacks will be "low crunch" with the "full taste profile" but without the flavors sticking to your fingers, the CEO said in the interview. "And how can you put it in a purse" will also be considered when designing the new line of chips.
Other details, such as the rationale of developing a special product for women's snacking and calling it "innovation," were spared. However, Nooyi did reveal to Freakonomics that PepsiCo is "getting ready to launch a bunch of them soon."
If PepsiCo's previous female-friendly products are any indication, we can expect some serious backlash.
Back in 2011, PepsiCo's Diet Pepsi was rebranded as "the new skinny can" with a barely recognizable, lipsticked Sofia Vergara sipping the same Diet Pepsi product, but in a taller, slimmer can. The "new skinny can" campaign debuted during New York Fashion Week and was positioned as a celebration of beautiful women. Critics charged PepsiCo with dangerous stereotyping that women should "resemble beanpoles to be attractive," as AdWeek put it.
In light of a burgeoning feminist movement, the marketing team at PepsiCo may want to tread lightly.