Strawberry Flavored Cheetos Seduce Sweet-Loving Snackers
Frito-Lay, the makers of new Strawberry Cheetos, is a division of PepsiCo... the same folks who brought out Pepsi Ice Cucumber during Japan's record-breaking hot summer of 2007. This tells us two things: (A) the company is not afraid to pitch distinctive products to the Japanese market, and (B), they may not understand the Japanese market as well as they might think. Or not - Strawberry Cheetos join Milk Chocolate Cheetos in Japan's legion of snack vending machines.
Cheetos have come a long way since San Antonio, Texas food chemist Charles Elmer Doolin invented them, Fritos corn chips, and a potato-based snack called "Fritatos". While Fritatos died on the vine, Cheetos spread across the snacking world to become one of Frito-Lay's most well-known products, along with Doritos. Competition is dog-eat-dog (or chip-eat-chip) in the snackin' biz, though, so the pressure to create new appealing snacks is intense.
Maybe too intense... as FL's most recent Japanese Doritos flavor (Honey Butter Doritos) illustrates. Imagine watching Japanese TV while snacking on Honey Butter Doritos and washing 'em down with slugs of Pepsi Ice Cucumber... sounds worse than snacking on slugs!
Japanese consumers have also had something called "Caramel Doritos Sweets" inflicted upon them. Perhaps PepsiCo's marketing wizards figure if they'll buy Pepsi Ice Cucumber, they'll buy anything!
Why the push to sweeten up snacks that have typically come in salty and spicy varieties? Some say that Frito-Lay is reaching out to women, who (supposedly) prefer sweeter snacks.
I'm not sure if this strategy is sexist or not, and Frito-Lay hasn't published any market testing that proves their theory. One thing is certain, however... bizarre snacks like Frito-Lay's Strawberry Cheetos may not make waves in the marketplace, but they'll always make the news reports! (via Japan Marketing News)
Japanese Innovations Writer