No matter if you are an Indian kid or an adult, you would have definitely heard the term “Maggie”! Do you remember the time in 2015 when Maggi was banned in India? Despite the controversy, folks including you were deeply saddened and waited desperately for its comeback. Many brands of noodles come and go, but nobody ever had a permanent foothold like Maggi! Over the years, it established such a powerful emotional connection with Indians. But how? Why has it become a symbol of noodles in India? Your mind must be full of such queries. So, in this write-up, we will delve into the “Maggi Case Study.” Also, we will analyze the factors that made this 2-minute recipe go viral.
Noodles: An Alien Concept in India (The 1880s Era)
Whenever we say, “Noodles” what do you think of its origin? China! Isn’t it? Because it was invented and eaten as a staple food in East Asian countries. Unlike them, India is a land of “Dal-Chawal” & “Roti-Sabzi” cultures. Almost five decades back, nobody knew what noodles were. Take out a few minutes and ask your grandparents when did they hear the term “noodles” for the first time? In television commercials, they may say. And when did television become common in Indian households? In the 1880s! In 1983, Nestle introduced Maggi in India with its television commercial with the tagline of “2-minute noodles.”
So noodles were completely absent in India?
Before Maggi, noodles were present in only a few parts of India with a dominant Chinese & Tibetan population. Such as Kolkata. But it was confined to the local streets of Kolkata!
Thus, you can say that Maggi is the first player who introduced the concept of “Noodles” in India on a mass scale! Although its marketing strategies were immensely successful. But it was not a cakewalk for Maggi. It keenly analyzed multiple challenges and loopholes in the Indian food culture. It was successful in transforming “noodles” from an alien concept to the most loved snack in India!
A Brief History of Maggi
In 1882, Julius Maggi (not Nestle Maggi) launched instant noodles to provide food that can be cooked quickly. These were invented to serve working women who had very little time to cook during the Industrial Revolution. In 1947, the organization of Instant Noodles established by Julius Maggi converged with Nestle. Approx. half-century later, in 1982, Nestle also launched noodles with the brand name- “Maggi” to serve the same purpose i.e. quickly cooked food! Maggi was launched in over 100 countries including New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Maldives, South Africa, India, etc. Unlike other countries, Maggie faced a tough challenge to grab a space in a traditional cuisine-rich country like India. Look at the next section for more details.
Challenges Faced by Maggi
Maggi’s journey would have been quite tough and haphazard if it hadn’t studied the market thoroughly. It found numerous challenging factors in the Indian market that needed to be solved in order to mark its presence. Those challenges were-
- The introduction of noodles in rice, wheat, veggies, and pulses-dominated food culture.
- Diverse cuisine types and food types in India.
- Local prejudice and reluctance to noodles due to their similar appearance to worms.
- Difficult to influence adults to try something new.
- Folks didn’t consider the packaged snacks like chips, biscuits, and candies a healthy food.
- Couldn’t advertise “Maggi” as “instant noodles” because the term “instant” is an ambiguous term. It can mean something that can be directly eaten by unpacking the wrapper.
- Competition from local handmade noodles and vermicelli.
- Presence of local snacks.
- Adults were reluctant to try new snacks.
Maggi needed brilliant strategies to overcome those challenges. Along with the challenges, Maggie also found a few loopholes that could help their marketing campaigns.
Golden Opportunities for Maggi
Maggi introduced itself as a quick snack. But India has innumerable delicious snacks on every street. Why would anyone prefer Maggi over any local snack? To solve this challenge Maggi extensively studied the Indian market and audience. After studying all of it, Maggi found certain potent loopholes in our food culture. These loopholes were no less than golden opportunities for Maggi.
Let’s look at some significant loopholes in the Indian snacking system-
- The preparation of “Hot Snacks” was a time-consuming process: It takes a minimum of thirty minutes to cook Indian snacks like Samosas, Kachodi, Pakoda, Vada, Poha, Upma, etc.
- A few quick snacks were available. Such as Sandwich and Bhel. But these were cold snacks.
- The packaged snacks of those times (like chips and wafers) were not wholesome and nutritious.
- Kids were more open to trying new products because they weren’t under any compulsion or food habits like adults.
- Huge gap in the market in terms of quickly cooked and freshly produced “Hot Snacks.”
The last two loopholes of our food culture served as a breakthrough opportunity for Maggi. In the next section, we will describe how Maggie utilized these gaps to make its marketing strategies more efficient.
Marketing Strategies: 2-Minute Noodles Go Viral
As of now, you must have realized what the objective of Maggi was! The marketing strategies are the core of “Maggi Case Study.” To begin its marketing campaigns, it hired a famous ad agency named- “Hindustan Thompson Associates” (HTA). Along with HTA, Maggi used the following marketing strategies to position its brand in the Indian market-
1. Maggie- 2 Minute Noodles Ad Campaign
If you look at Maggi’s packet carefully, you will notice that Maggi mentions itself as “2-minute noodles” Don’t you wonder what the reason for such a perfect time of 2min for the noodles would be? Well, there are two reasons for it-
- “2 Minute Noodles” was a better terminology than “Instant Noodles”: The former term is a colloquial term and the latter one is an ambiguous term. The term “instant” can be perceived differently by people. Some may assume it as hot cup noodles that are prepared in a few seconds just by adding hot water. Others can assume it is something like candy or chips that can be eaten once you unpack it. So, “2-Minute Noodles” represents a perfect scenario where you need a cooking time of two minutes. It was easily understood by everyone. Also, there was no need to translate it separately for dubbing the ad in local languages.
- Quickly Prepared Hot Snack: As you have seen in the section of “Challenges.” There has been a huge gap in the market in terms of quickly cooked and freshly produced “Hot Snacks.” So, on any occasion when you need to prepare something quickly and serve it warm, you can choose Maggi. And that too without giving it any second thought! This represented the original purpose of Nestle i.e. to offer quickly prepared home-made snacks.
2. Targeted the children with the emotional tagline “Mummy, I’m Hungry”
Snacking is leisure and fun. And when it comes to snacks, there is no better target than kids. Yes, children! As you have read in the loopholes mentioned above. “Kids are more open to try new products as compared to adults.” Children seek snacks on numerous occasions in a day. Be it a mid-morning snack or an evening snack after playing with friends. Maggi utilized this fact brilliantly and launched ads with the tagline “Mummy Bhookh Lagi Hai” or “Mummy, I’m hungry.” In these ads, the mother cooks Maggi for them in just two minutes with love and care. See, along with children, Maggi had targeted mothers too! But why? You will find out in the next section.
3. Targeted Mothers to encourage them to cook Maggi for their children
If you look at the commercials for Maggi, you will notice that every tagline of “Maggi” has an emotional touch. Let’s dive deeper into the tagline “Mummy Bhookh Lagi Hai.” In these ads, children reach out to their mothers due to hunger. What did their mothers do? They took out a packet of Maggi, unpack it, and cooked it by adding some veggies. This ad was full of a mother’s love for her children. Do you know, initially, the addition of chopped vegetables wasn’t a part of Maggi’s ad? Really? Yes. But why? Was there a specific reason to target the mothers in Maggi’s ad campaigns? You may ask. There are two aspects of it-
- Mothers decide what to cook for children: Although children are open to trying new products. But Maggi wasn’t a candy or chips that could be eaten directly. It needed to be cooked which is near to impossible for children. Here came the role of the mother. Maggi realized that in order to enter the common Indian households, they need to win the trust of mothers. Because ultimately it is the mother who can cook and offer food to children, be it the era of the 1880s or 2020s.
- Addition of veggies to make Maggi nutritious: Maggi is made up of refined flour which is not good for health. Irrespective of the preparation time, if the food/snack is not healthy, mothers won’t offer it to their kids regularly. This was a huge setback factor for Maggi. That’s why it focused on the incorporation of vegetables in its ad campaigns. Despite its shortest cooking time, the addition of veggies made Maggi more nutritious and wholesome. This was a smart solution that encouraged mothers to cook Maggi for their children.
4. Advertisements in Local Languages
Although the first ad film of Maggi (released in 1982) was in the English language. Later the ad agency dubbed the commercial into numerous indigenous languages of India. Also, the advertisements of the print medium, radio ads, and posters were also dubbed into local languages. Why? To expand its reach! Some of the key local languages for dubbing were-
- Hindi: “Mummy Bhookh Lagi Hai” Ad Campaign
- Bengali: “Khai-Khai Maggi” Ad Campaign
5. Sponsoring the Soap Operas in Doordarshan
In the 1980s and 1990s, soap operas and films were the only source of entertainment for Indians. Eventually, it offered a handful of the audience too! In 1984, the serial called “Hum Log” was one of the most popular operas on Doordarshan. At that time, Nestle (the parent company of Maggi) was a famous company. Also, it sponsored the television shows. It means that the opera producers approached the Nestle Company regularly to sponsor their program. The producers of “Hum Log” also asked Nestle to sponsor their show and Nestle agreed.
In the soap operas of Doordarshan, around 25-30 slots for commercials were available. Since Nestle sponsored “Hum Log” it seamlessly put Maggi in maximum slots to get more TRPs (Target Rating Points). This subconsciously and efficiently influenced the mind of the audience and resulted in a successful national rollout of Maggie.
6. Quizzes & Prizes in School
Advertisements aren’t enough for a successful rollout of products. You also need to showcase the quality of your product to your target audience. If your product quality is fairly good enough, you will get the advantage of word-of-mouth marketing. Therefore, Maggi approached schools to offer noodles to students. Isn’t it weird? No, it is not. It didn’t give the packets of Maggi for free.
Rather the company organized school quizzes and contests. And at the end of every contest they offered cooked Maggi. This marketing approach introduced the delicacy of Maggi to the children. Just like I mentioned before, good quality products confer word-of-mouth marketing. Thus, it led to the exponential rise of Maggi’s popularity among children!
Final Words: Huge Success of Maggi
Before jumping to a conclusion of “Maggi Case Study”, let me ask you to name a few brands that are highly successful in India. What would you do? Probably you would research and analyze a list of brands that you hear around you. Do you know, there is an interesting way to determine the success of a brand in India? What’s that? You may ask. The brand name becomes synonymous with its functioning. Like “Xerox” for photocopiers, “Colgate” for toothpaste, “Google” for search engines, “Paytm” for online payment, and “Amul” for milk. Similarly “Maggi” for noodles. These brands went through a lot of struggles and strategies to become a synonym for their product. Similarly, Maggi’s success didn’t come overnight. The company studied the market thoroughly and used effective marketing strategies to become the symbol of “noodles” in India.