It’s a world where women can connect with one another—sharing and supporting their feelings about diets, beauty, exercise and body confidence.  It’s a world where women can feel good about what they are eating, not guilty.  It’s a world that stems from—of all places—the snack aisle of your local grocery store.

Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, has taken their marketing-to-women initiatives to an entirely new level by looking at women as individuals—not just a gender.  “We recognized the opportunity to speak to women as themselves, not just gatekeepers to the home,” said past M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference speaker Becky Frankiewicz, vice president, marketing women’s portfolio for Frito-Lay North America.  “Our intent is to have a conversation with her–not just talk to her.”

This conversation included rolling out one of Frito-Lay’s first-ever portfolio campaigns with the popular product lines of Baked! Lays®, Flat Earth®, SmartFood® and 100 CALORIE® packs.  “We knew we had products she enjoyed, we just needed to let her know these products were for her,” says Frankiewicz.  In addition to focusing on what women didn’t want in their foods (fat and calories), the company also wanted to add what she was looking for (great taste and added nutritional benefits).  From baking spices and dried vegetables into the crisps for Baked! Lays® and Flat Earth®, to offering calcium and fiber in SmartFood® products to putting their most popular brands (think yummy Fritos!) into 100 calorie portions, Frito-Lay has given women a new reason to visit the chip aisle.

The innovation of their product development didn’t stop with taste—it also included a redesign of packaging and even the chip aisle itself.   Product packaging maintained the health benefits, but ramped up the new flavor offerings—and in addition to some products such as SmartFood and 100 Calorie Packs—focusing on portion control and convenience (you can easily throw a single-serving pouch into a purse), the box itself was designed for easy access during pantry storage.  “The success of a marketing-to-women effort has to be in everything you do—even the packaging,” says Frankiewicz.  Even the snack aisle itself was given a fresh new look by giving women a “safety zone” where they automatically know every product featured is just for them.

“It was a challenge for us,” says Frankiewicz.  “We needed this group of products to seemingly fit together and be unified, yet remain individual and distinctive.”  This challenge led the brand to launch the “Only in a Woman’s World” campaign which features four friends—Nikki, Anna, Cheryl and Maya—who humorously experience the real world moments all women can relate to.  “Each character is associated with a specific snack,” says Frankiewicz.  “This allows us to show the different personalities of the brands through the characters that represent them.”  Using a blend of traditional and non-traditional marketing strategies, Frito-Lay launched “the girls” with much success—driving traffic to their virtual home,

The site itself reflects the importance women place on the counsel of friends and family.  In addition to giving product information, the site allows users to follow the adventures of Nikki, Anna, Cheryl and Maya through comic strips, webisodes, interactive online games and shareable e-cards.  Why cartoons?  Says Frankiewicz, “We wanted to reflect real women, however, during tests with consumers we discovered that using actual women in the campaign distracted from the message.  Women started evaluating themselves in the featured women and didn’t even hear what we were trying to say about the products.”

Frito-Lay also tapped into the popularity of Twitter and You Tube as well as the strength of female bloggers.  Finding 15 influential bloggers for their mission, the brand created the “Fab 15” which were not only brought into a manufacturing plant for a tour of the facilities, but provide an ongoing conversation with the brand regarding what women want.  “We must always evolve and learn—it is the only way we will be able to continue meeting the needs of our female consumers,” says Frankiewicz.

And, so the conversation continues.  Frito-Lay is on a mission to continue looking at women as individuals and seeing how their unmet needs can be found in—and beyond– the snack aisle.

See other innovative ways brands are connecting with today’s women by attending M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference,