Well the history of this brand traces back to the 19th century when industrial revolution in Switzerland created factory jobs for women, who were therefore left with very little time to prepare meals. Due to this growing problem Swiss Public Welfare Society asked a miller named Julius Maggi to create a vegetable food product that would be quick to prepare and easy to digest. Julius, the son of an Italian immigrant came up with a formula to bring added taste to meals in 1863.
Soon after he was commissioned by the Swiss Public Welfare Society, he came up with two instant pea soups & a bean soup- the first launch of Maggi brand of instant foods in 1882-83. Towards the end of the century, Maggi company was producing not just powdered soups, but bouillon cubes, sauces and other flavorings. However in India(the largest consumer of Maggi noodles in the world! ) it was launched in 1980’s by Nestle group of companies. Maggie had merged with Nestle(This company too has a very interesting history which I will discuss in some other review! ) family in 1947.
When launched it had to face a stiff competition from the ready to eat snack segments like biscuits, wafers etc. Also it had other competitor the so called ’home made’ snacks which are till today considered healthy and hygienic. Hence to capture the market it was positioned as a hygienic home made snack, a smart move. But still this didn’t work, as it was targeted towards the wrong target group, the working women. Although the product was developed for this particular purpose. After conducting an extensive research, the firm found that the children were the biggest consumers of Maggi noodles.
Quickly a strategy was developed to capture the kids segment with various tools of sales promotion like pencils, fun books, maggi clubs which worked wonders for it. No doubt the ads of maggi have shown a hungry kid saying ’’Mummy bhookh lagi hai’’ to which his mom replies ’’Bas do minute! ’’ and soon he is happily eating Maggie noodles. The company could have easily positioned the product as a meal, but did not, as a study had shown that Indian mentality did not accept anything other than rice or roti as meal.
They made it a easy to cook snack that could be prepared in just two minutes. The formula clicked well & maggi became a brand name. That’s precisely what is required in making a product a brand The brand has grown to an estimated 200 crore & contributes to around 10% of Nestle India’s top line. So next time when you are eating this noodles just remember these facts that have gone on to make Maggi a brand. In the early 1980s India was opening up to the world after three and a half decades of self-existence. Till then, the concept of “fast food” was practically non-existent.
Nestle had already been pipped to the post by Cadbury in the milk chocolate segment and it desperately wanted to create a niche for itself in the high potential Indian market. It was then that it realized that it could be a first-mover in the untapped “instant food” segment. Several years went by and a lot of money was spent and Maggi Noodles was born. The problems had only just begun. The biggest of them was the Indian psyche of the 80s. The conservatism which India showed in their culture boiled down to their palate also.
They would rather stick to their Tandoori Chicken or Idli Sambhar than be a little more adventurous in trying a new taste. Maggi Noodles was a new taste from a new culture. It was then that Maggi Noodles became Maggi Instant Two-Minute Noodles. The whole point was to position Maggi as platform of convenience and soul food for the a fast growing section of the Indian population – the working women. Heavy promotion was done on the same lines. But even this did not work. Sales were good but not as good as they wanted it to be.
A research was carried out which revealed that the largest consumers of the brand were not the working women but young children in the Indian households. Realizing this, Nestle repositioned their brand using new promotional strategies and smart advertising. Marketing teams were sent out to schools to distribute free Maggi samples to take home. The kids would inevitably take their Maggi packets home and ask their mothers to prepare it for lunch or as a snack. The mothers would find that it took them only two minutes to make a proper hot meal for their children who would love it.
They would refer it to their neighbors who would pass it on to distant bachelor cousins who lived alone and had to cook for themselves. Thus, the hugely successful viral campaign ensured that Maggi created a distinct affection in the hearts of its consumers unlike any other proprietary food of its time. But the story was far from over. In 1997, Nissin – the inventor of instant noodles – launched its flagship brand Top Ramen in the Indian market with Shah Rukh Khan – fresh from the success of super hits like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge – endorsing the brand.
It was then that Maggi took its first false step – it changed its taste to align itself with that of Top Ramen’s. The results were disastrous. A generation which had grown up on Maggi could not accept the new taste and would rather give Top Ramen a try. Nestle was fast losing ground to Nissin. It took them two years to work out a new strategy – accept the consumer’s verdict and get back to the basics. In 1999, Maggi relaunched itself with its original taste. It paid off handsomely and the faithfuls returned to their master. Top Ramen could no longer sustain the growth it built up in the two years. The next big hurdle came in 2004.
The SARS epidemic of 2003 in South East Asia had led to widespread concerns regarding personal hygiene and health. Mothers were now more concerned regarding what their children were eating and maida in general was always considered to be low on the health aspect. In 2005 Maggi launched Atta Noodles with the tagline “Taste bhi, health bhi. ” Although the advertisements showed Atta Noodles replacing the rotis and chapatis, this was never Maggi’s intention. It knew that thinking about that objective was a far cry and the main purpose was to convince mothers that their children was eating the right thing.
In this sense, it scored over the Licia and Bambino semolina-based Macaroni products, which, though being an healthier alternative to Maggi, always tried to position themselves as a substitute for wheat based items of daily consumption. Within 10 months, Maggi Atta Noodles was declared a success and now they are foraying further with the “Taste bhi, Health bhi” campaign with products such as Multi-Grain Noodles. The above examples show that Maggi as a brand knows the customer and is willing to learn from its mistakes.
It knows that its USP is convenience to ake and good to eat and it sticks to that without pushing the envelope further in its campaigns. It has also leveraged its success to other food products – the most notable of which is the Maggi ketchup which has garnered a market leader position of about 45% largely thanks to the Maggi brand and its positioning as a “Different” product ( Remember the tagline – Its different! ). The savior of many students (and especially the ones staying in hostels), there is little doubt as to why many regard Maggi as the greatest invention since the wheel.