- PeaTos — the copycat Cheetos brand made with a pea base instead of corn — launched its direct-to-consumer website BetterSnacks.com. The startup’s site launched one week after PepsiCo's Frito-Lay debuted its new direct-to-consumer website Snacks.com
- The entire breadth of the company’s products will be available online. PeaTos said it will expand its assortments through exclusive collaborations and brand partnerships.
- This better-for-you brand launched in 2018 and experienced 50% growth in 2020 from the prior year as it aims to disrupt the $20 billion salty snack market.
PeaTos seems determined to remain a thorn in the side of the snack juggernaut Frito-Lay. Since launching with a tongue-in-cheek name riffed off of the well-known Cheetos brand, the company has continued to toe the line with its marketing efforts and product launches.
Launching a direct-to-consumer site would seem like a natural move for a company looking to offer its products to shoppers who are penned up at home or are limiting trips to grocery stores. E-commerce has become an increasingly popular way for shoppers to buy their groceries as quarantines continue across the United States. However, the website — BetterSnacks.com — clearly alludes to the brand’s pitch that its orange-colored lentil- and pea-based snacks are squarely in the better-for-you category when compared to Frito-Lay Cheetos.
Furthermore, PeaTos already offered a direct-to-consumer option for its snacks, selling them online as well as in stores. In April, the Los Angeles Times reported that a 45-count pack of PeaTos was available online at peatos.com for $49.99.
The name of its direct-to-consumer page mirroring Frito-Lay's is not the first time PeaTos has overtly alluded to Cheetos in its marketing. In 2018, PepsiCo sent PeaTos a cease-and-desist letter regarding the company's paw print logo and slogan, "tigers live longer than cheetahs," which they said was targeting Cheetos' Chester Cheetah mascot. Although Founder and CEO Nick Desai said in a recent release that the order “was later dropped in 2019,” this latest move may rekindle some animosity between the two brands.
The company considers itself to be a David taking on the legacy brand Goliath that is Frito-Lay, even calling out its products as better-for-you versions of those manufactured by PepsiCo. With another clear jab at Frito-Lay, it would not be a surprise if the snacking giant retaliates. While a cease-and-desist letter may come for PeaTos, PepsiCo’s subsidiary may also choose to hit back in its own marketing. Last year, Kind took on Clif Bar with a campaign questioning the brand's health claims. Frito-Lay could consider a similar approach and begin dissecting PeaTos better-for-you claims.
However, those better-for-you claims helped generate meaningful revenue growth at PeaTos during the last two years. The upstart brand raked in $5 million in its first six months on shelves, according to statistics referenced in The Wall Street Journal. PeaTos projected sales of $20 million in 2019. While these figures pale in comparison to the more than $1 billion generated annually by Cheetos, PeaTos has the ability to cause some major disruption.
Parents are looking for healthier, cleaner-label snacks and treats to give to their children and PeaTos fits the bill. This upstart brand has been working to poach market share from Frito-Lay’s legacy brand since 2018 by touting the fact that its crunchy snacks have no artificial ingredients and are made with a pea base rather than corn. By focusing on its pea content, PeaTos is tapping into a growing market trend where these unloved dinner accompaniments have been introduced as a protein-rich and better-for-you addition to everything from milks, yogurts and snack bars to faux meat, veggie burgers and shakes.
It is unlikely that a direct-to-consumer site will make a significant difference to the brand’s overall sales since research from Euromonitor International has shown that e-commerce leads to fewer impulse snack purchases. At the same time, online shopping is growing during the coronavirus pandemic and analysts have speculated that the convenience and simplicity of e-commerce have pushed growth in this sector to a point where it will undoubtedly remain a bigger portion of consumers' shopping in the future. Even if PeaTos doesn’t see a big boost from e-commerce, it is sure to attract more attention to its name. It's a smart strategy as PeaTos looks to penetrate the market and give Cheetos a run for its money.