Maggi’s comeback has placed it in the centre of a debate about whether it has adopted the best re-launch strategy or not
Aanchal Kohli & Rashi Bisaria | Delhi | November 13, 2015
Five months back when instant noodle brand Maggi from Nestle was banned over allegations that it contained extra quantities of lead and mislabelling of the flavour enhancer, Maggi loyalists lost a friend. It was wiped off shelves to the dismay of those who considered the instant noodle brand a dear friend standing by them through thick and thin. As it makes a comeback, marketing experts, consumers and critics are watching every move it makes.
The last five months
Nestle has not had it easy these last few months. Apart from its reputation being shredded to bits, it has had to undertake a huge food recall exercise in the country which cost the company Rs 450 crore. It also had to destroy more than 30,000 tonnes of Maggi noodles. Nestle India suffered losses to the tune of Rs 64 crore in the second quarter ended June.
Earlier this week, Maggi announced its return and Nestle India tweeted, “Your favourite Maggi noodles are now back. Delighted to hand over Maggi noodles to consumers to whom it belongs.” The comeback has brought Maggi back into everyday conversations, sparking another debate about whether it will be able to regain its past glory or not.
The flash sale on Snapdeal
In an exclusive tie-up with Snapdeal, Maggi began selling welcome kits on the e-commerce site and sold the first batch of 60,000 kits within five minutes of the sale going live. On being asked if the strategy of an online launch was appropriate for Maggi, Abraham Koshy, Senior Professor of Marketing, IIM Ahmedabad, who is also the Chairman of Federal Bank Limited, said, “I think this is the perfect way to re-launch Maggi. It has to happen step-by-step. Therefore, it is reaching out to the hard core loyalists online first. It should focus on rebuilding consumer confidence and then get into other promotional activities.”
Maggi’s new TV commercial
Maggi has nostalgia attached to it with many people having grown up with it, and mothers having fed their children Maggi in various forms. Taking a cue from there, Nestle came up with its latest ad campaign where a mother fondly talks about her belief in Maggi and how the brand lived up to its integrity.
KV Sridhar, Chief Creative Officer India, SapientNitro, said, “The new commercial by the brand is focused only on creating a re-assurance that Maggi is not harmful. Strategically, it is a brilliant move by the brand as it was important to re-build the same trust among its consumers. The way they are making a comeback, it seems the brand will rebuild the same old trust.”
Ashish Khazanchi, Managing Partner at Enormous, also seemed positive about the brand recreating space in the consumer’s heart. “Maggi is not just about food but also has many memories attached with it, for the consumer. The way consumers love the brand, it looks like Nestle will cover up the losses. With the new commercial, the brand is trying to reassure consumers that Maggi is not harmful.”
The journey ahead
Nestle’s marketing strategy for the brand’s comeback is clear. According to Nestle, television will continue to be the key medium to achieve reach of messaging in India. At the same time digital and social media, via e-tailing tie-ups, Facebook, Twitter and Apps will also be significant in reaching out to younger audiences. But what will stand out is the on-ground activation for the brand, to connect with not just consumers but the ‘dhabas’, canteens and street-vendors of Maggi noodles.
But not everyone is optimistic about the journey ahead. Sanjay Tripathy, Senior EVP- Head Marketing, Product, Analytics, Digital and E-Commerce, HDFC Life who has a reputation for changing businesses on their head and turning around loss- making brands, foresees challenges ahead. He said, “While loyalists will continue brand patronage from the moment Maggi gets back in the market, inducing trial in non-users will be a far harder task now than earlier.”
But on one aspect, most people have one view- they still love Maggi. As Avik Chattopadhyay, former Marketing Head, Volkswagen India and Co-creator, Expereal, says, “We all love the product in the way it connects with our hearts, through the stomach. Hence, Nestle should just go about putting it back on the shelves, step by step, without the melodrama of the television ads and the gimmick of going online. I am sure these are "disruptive" and "emotive" PR patch-up activities, but they simply do not work. Maggi 2-minutes noodles are a simple, straightforward, no-nonsense part of our lives, without any frills. Let us welcome it back that very way.”