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Feb 11

‘Lady Doritos’ another example of distasteful gendered products

Women are asking for equal pay, reproductive freedom and an end to workplace discrimination and harassment. The world is hearing these requests, but “Lady Doritos” and other ridiculous gender-specific products are not the response wanted.

In a Jan. 31 episode of the “Freakonomics Radio” podcast, Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, commented on the gender differences in snack products and suggested Doritos for women, saying, “Women don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.”

The internet quickly expressed its distaste for such a product, and the phrase even trended on Twitter. PepsiCo released a Feb. 5 statement saying: “We already have Doritos for women—they’re called Doritos.” The story was reported incorrectly by a U.K. news outlet and was quickly picked up by other big publications. PepsiCo has no actual plans of releasing Lady Doritos, but the immediate negative backlash proves that women are not going to keep putting up with gendered products.

Doritos would not have been the first brand to market products tailored to what researchers seem to think women want and need. BIC released pens for women last year that had no difference from its other pens—except for being pink. Women are not strangers to the “pink tax,” which refers to the extra amount women are charged for certain products or services. Everything from razors and deodorant to birthday cards and hand tools often cost more for no reason other than that they are marketed to women.

In 2010, Consumer Reports found that products directed at women—via name, description or packaging—cost up to 50 percent more than similar, sometimes nearly identical, products for men. An additional study estimated that women spend an average of $1,351 every year in extra cost.

Lady Doritos, though hypothetical, is just another example of gender coding in advertising, and while the notion is ridiculous, the issue should be taken seriously. This kind of product highlights longstanding gender norms that need to be eliminated, such as the expectation that women should be prim and proper—even when eating chips.

Washington Post writer Heidi Moore wrote Feb. 7 that if companies want to make products women really want, “women should be well-represented in creative and product decision-making—not only in financial or management choices.” 

A fair mix of men and women in decision-making roles earns companies 15 percent more revenue than their rivals because the more diverse a company, the more varying views it tends to have, according to a 2015 report from a U.K. research center titled “Why diversity matters.” The study concluded that more diverse companies and institutions are achieving better performance. With more diverse employees in marketing positions, companies might be better equipped to create products their customer base actually wants.

Gendering products affects more than just women. Gendered products often affirm the gender binary and can inherently and continuously create inequality. Products that are specifically targeted for men or women are a big problem for nonbinary people who don’t identify as either. Gendered products also reinforce negative stereotypes that often imply women are lesser than men.

The outcry from the public about  Lady Doritos evoked a conversation about gendered products that needs to continue because we are indirectly and directly affected by social perceptions in the advertisements around us.

Permanent link to this article: http://homebiz2bizreview.net/internet-marketing/lady-doritos-another-example-of-distasteful-gendered-products/

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