If you’re reading this, we’re sure in your lifetime you would’ve had a pleasure of sparing those controversial two minutes to cook a Maggi and another few to eat it. We’ll never know how those advertisements manage to cook their Maggi in two minutes. Anyway, we’re not here to question the two-minute proposition of our most loved Noodle brand and rather to discuss a controversy that happened in 2015. Which has become the famous Maggi case study, a case study that teaches you how to emotionally connect well with your consumer.
Before you learn about the controversy – here’s a quick intro to the brand: Maggi was introduced in India by a Global FMCG company called Nestlé in 1982 and over this time, until 2015 the brand captured 60% of the noodle market in India. Maggi was in every nook of the country, this was because of how affordable, portable and instant these noodles are.
However, as all good things come to an end. Maggi faced a temporary ban in 2015, here’s the entire story for you (This post has a lot of videos, we’d recommend you at least watch the last few ones).
FSSAI is not very well known for surprise food inspections, however, April 2015 was different. FSSAI conducted a surprise Inspection for testing any possible food adulteration issue on Maggi’s manufacturing unit in the Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh. The tested samples were sent to FSSAI labs and reports of higher than permissible levels of lead and the presence of Monosodium Glutamate(MSG) was released, these substances are banned to use for consumable products.
Naturally, Nestlé India Limited (NIL) appealed against the report and said MSG was a result of natural processes (it’s also mentioned on their website) and requested re-inspection of the products in the unit. Following this appeal, samples were sent to a government-authorized lab in Kolkata which only supported the findings of state FSSAI laboratory.
These reports led to several states banning sale and use of Maggi, obviously because of the health concerns. And unfortunately, on 9th June, 2015, FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) i.e. the food regulator in India put a nationwide ban on sale on Maggi noodles for 5 months. Owing to this nationwide ban Nestlé recalled all the Maggi products from all the outlets and emotionally promised that they’ll be back in market as soon as the lab reports were clear. Almost 38,000 tonnes of Maggi was destroyed by Nestlé which worth Rs.320 crore.
Impacts of the ban:
The then brand Ambassadors of Maggi – Amitabh Bachchan, Preity Zinta, and Madhuri Dixit were slammed for endorsing the brand. Criminal cases were filed against them – yep, no joke. See here. Competitors: Top Ramen, Yippie, Patanjali Noodles started marketing their noodles healthy – we guess fats were not really unhealthy back then. Well, we can’t really blame them, 60% of the Market was now open for them to capture.
Things went south when the Government filed a case against Nestlé and charged Rs.640 crore for damages – Yikes! Nestlé posted its first loss in 17 years after the Maggi was banned. But worse, the consumers were now losing their trust in Maggi. Yep, FSSAI and the Government is all serious when it comes to your health – but the story wasn’t over yet.
And, the Return:
Surprisingly even when the Maggi was banned, it really wasn’t ready to give up on its consumers. The brand had an active social media page through which it stayed connected to its audience by the way of various social media posts and advertisements. Even on their Facebook page, they kept posting that their (consumers’) favorite food will be safe to consume very soon. There was a loyal set of customers that believed in Maggi and would occasionally post on their social media about how much they wanted their favorite noodles to return. Responding to them Maggi ran a campaign showcasing how they were missing their customers as well. They also created helpline numbers and FAQ pages for customers’ related queries.
In August 2015, the ban was lifted by the Bombay High court on the condition that it will be relaunched only after the reports are cleared by the FSSAI. And, in November 2015, when Nestlé got a nod from the food regulatory authority of India (FSSAI), it launched its WELCOME BACK campaign – an emotional campaign that won the heart of its consumers. They even launched 15 new variations of Maggi. They teamed up with e-commerce giants and started selling welcome kits which contained 12 Maggi packs. The response was great, the then e-commerce company Snapdeal sold 60,000 Maggi kits in just 5 minutes after the launch.
Learning from the Maggi case study:
All in all, this teaches at all that matters in end is the emotional connection you have with your customers. Unfortunately for Maggi’s competitors, they really did not achieve a lot during the ban. Maggi captured over 60% again in the next two years to come. And, this was the story of the crisis our favorite noodles faced – we hoped we killed it. You can write to us if you’d like any improvements.