Inside Frito-Lay’s approach to better-for-you portfolio renovation and innovation

Its VP of marketing for Better Choice snacking shares how PepsiCo’s snacking division is working to reach new consumers.
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· 4 min read

When you think about PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, you probably think about, well, Fritos and Lays, but there’s a whole portfolio within the CPG giant’s snacking subsidiary targeting consumers looking to crunch on something a little more healthy.

Eight brands—including PopCorners, SunChips, Stacy’s, and Off the Eaten Path—have been organized into Frito-Lay’s Better Choice Snacking portfolio, also referred to as Positive Choice internally, for the last four or five years, and it’s the job of the portfolio’s VP, Rhasheda Boyd, to continue to grow these brands’ reach. Boyd has spent over a decade at PepsiCo, overseeing marketing for Funyuns, as well as Frito-Lay’s variety packs before moving into Better Choice Snacking.

This portfolio has evolved a lot over the years since Boyd first joined the food and bev giant, when her first gig was working on the launch of nut brand TrueNorth (now owned by B&G Foods). That was the first time outside of SunChips and Lays Baked! that PepsiCo was creating a brand from scratch to target consumers moving away from overly salty snacks, she said. Now, the Better Choice portfolio has become a collection of snack brands worth more than $1.5 billion as PepsiCo has worked to establish a “spectrum of opportunity of snacking for consumers,” Boyd told Retail Brew, which includes improving its current portfolio and bolstering its better-for-you options to meet changing consumer needs.

Health is wealth: In 2021, PepsiCo created goals to reduce sugar, sodium, and saturated fat, as well as use more diverse ingredients—i.e., legumes and plant-based proteins—across its food and beverage portfolio. The Better Choice portfolio started from a “better place” in terms of these health attributes compared to other PepsiCo brands, but there’s “still work to do,” Boyd said. It’s not as simple as just cutting out a bunch of salt and calling it a day—salt makes things taste better, Boyd noted, so the company has to find ways to deliver that same flavor with different seasonings instead, testing internally and with consumers along the way.

  • These efforts to transform its portfolio could also help the company weather any possible impacts from the rise of the use of appetite-suppressing drugs like Ozempic for weight management and “pivot the portfolio if needed in the future,” CEO Ramon Laguarta noted in its earnings call earlier this month.
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Snack time: SunChips and PopCorners, the two largest brands in Boyd’s portfolio, have grown over 20% this year, with continued YoY growth, which includes new consumers, she said. And there’s still a runway for more growth, both through new flavors and adding new ingredients to existing products, like Simply Lay’s Veggie Poppables launched last month and the black bean SunChips Frito-Lay introduced last year. The latter allowed for the addition of the “good source of fiber” claim on the packaging (there’s 3g per serving), and has also helped it attract more diverse consumers.

“We’re looking at opportunities where we can see a faster trajectory of growth,” Boyd said. “So maybe outside of core categories, maybe it’s not a chip, maybe it’s moving into clusters or crackers. We do believe a lot of these brands have good stretch to go into adjacent categories that can help with our innovation as well.”

Boyd said the company is also keeping an eye on changing consumer eating habits, particularly a trend she calls “snealing” or combining snacks and meals. She said the company has found that over 50% of consumers prefer to snack several times a day rather than eat three square meals, which has led the company to think about marketing snacks as “mini meals” (like identifying Stacy’s pita chips as the perfect girl dinner).

What’s next: As it continues to build out its consumer base, Boyd said her biggest barrier is getting consumers to not feel like they’re “trading off” when they buy a brand in the Better Choice Snacking portfolio. As part of this, she said there will be additional investment in communications and advertising next year emphasizing “what sets us apart,” a move that comes after PopCorners debuted its first-ever Super Bowl commercial this year.

“We’ve got the right portfolio, it’s just really making sure that we drive the right amount of trial,” she said. “A lot of our brands have very low household penetration, and so really overcoming that with how we get in the right places at the right times that consumers see us and are able to try it with a low risk.”

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.