Source: (Team and Sultana, 2015)
The Indian consumer market was forced to wait much longer than the standard ‘2 minutes’ for their beloved noodles. An instant ban was placed on 5 June of 2015 amid rising contamination fears. Yet Maggi (owned by Nestlé), seem to have risen from the proverbial ashes despite the ban lasting six months. They did this in the most unconventional of fashions.
It is tempting for those of us involved with marketing to categorise, analyse, and even predict consumer behaviour. Despite numerous theories, good marketing strategies are about as common as, well, good marketing strategies. Marketing is not an easy field to master and that is why we seldom see it done well.
The Purchase Process
Source (p.p. 13, Iacobucci 2013)
“It will be an uphill task for
Maggi to regain its lost glory,”
– Sandop Roy (Rana, 2016)
The average company might look at a blanket ban of its biggest seller as grounds for despair. One might expect them to re-enter the market gradually re-establishing trust over a number of years. We might even expect a relaunch that makes the existing product distance itself from the old version that was deemed unsafe. Instead, what Maggi did was use this time to focus on making sure they remained relevant. Maggi focused on the pre-purchase phase of the purchase process. After all it was the only phase they could focus on.
Nestle remained active marketers of Maggi noodles actually using the absence as a means to remain engaged with their loyal customers. Maggi created a hashtag, full-page newspaper advertisements, and a number of YouTube clips. This helped keep the long established emotional bond while the brand was being battled in court. By maintaining this familiarity while they were no longer available for purchase, they remained familiar, and possibly creating a sense of longing with customers who might have taken them for granted. This is crucial as instant noodles are more of a commodity than a specialised purchase. This can create difficulties when trying to segment.
The Cultural Landscape
Nestlé are a large multinational corporation. They have a multitude of brands the world over. Their marketing has been called into question before. In the 1970’s, they were accused of getting third world mothers hooked on expensive baby formula (Krasny, 2012). A move which ultimately backfired on how the brand is perceived even 40 years on.
In this instance, Maggi have shown they are able to adapt to the ethnicity and culture of the Indian people. Cultural differences can have a significant affect on consumer behaviour. (p.p. 22, Iacobucci 2013). This emotional style campaign might have fallen drastically short in the west. In India Maggi noodles are synonymous with a mother’s love unlike Australia where we think of the poverty associated with being a student. Picking up on Indian sentiment and family values Maggi tailored their forced absence and relaunch in the most personal of ways.
The Phoenix Effect
After the ban had ended, Maggi was poised to launch itself back into the market. Maggi boasted an impressive 77% of India’s noodle market before the ban took place (Team and Sultana, 2015). As of March 2016, Maggi are yet to return to their pre-ban levels of sales, yet their six month performance is noteworthy and they remain the market leader.
Maggi’s Market Share of India’s Noodle Sales
Source: (Rana, 2016)
Where to From Here?
It is obvious this ban of Maggi has created a sizeable loss of revenue and undoubtedly some damage to their brand. Their willingness to take risks, understand their market, and sustain goodwill has likely mitigated a proportion of these averse effects. We will need to keep our eyes open to see if they can recover fully, although returning to market leaders is an impressive feat in itself. Maggi had everything to lose but they weren’t afraid to role the dice. It makes us wonder if marketers the world over can steer clear of boring safe campaigns and adopt Maggi’s ’leap of faith’ approach to similar success.
Iacobucci, D. (2013) Marketing management (MM4) / edition 1. United States: South-Western College Publishing
Krasny, J. (2012) Every parent should know the scandalous history of infant formula. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/nestles-infant-formula-scandal-2012-6#the-baby-killer-blew-the-lid-off-the-formula-industry-in-1974-1 (Accessed: 28 July 2016).
Meri Maggi (2015) #WeMissYouToo | NEIGHBOURS. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w1myYavVsE (Accessed: 30 July 2016).
Rana, P. (2016) How Nestlé clawed its way back to the top of India’s Noodle market. Available at: http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2016/04/20/how-nestle-clawed-its-way-back-to-the-top-of-indias-noodle-market/ (Accessed: 30 July 2016).
Team, M. and Sultana, N. (2015) Maggi noodles sold out on Snapdeal, 12 packs at Rs 144. Available at: http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/maggi-noodles-sold-outsnapdeal-12-packs-at-rs-144_4059981.html (Accessed: 28 July 2016).
Marcus Fernandez / 213362851
The views expressed in this blog are my own and do not represent the views of any organisation I am affiliated with.