If “Xerox” is for Photocopiers, “Colgate” is for Toothpaste, then “Maggi” is for Noodles. – Economic Times, 2003

When Maggi was banned for a short time, there was more “sadness” than “Anger”. Looking at the messages of consumers, it appeared that Consumers were owning the brand than Brand owning the consumers. How could a foreign brand establish such a cult following? How could Maggi establish such a strong Emotional Connect? How could a product like this break the traditional behavior in 1980’s? Breaking a behavior will have huge resistance and introducing new behavior in its place is a herculean challenge.

“Maggi is the leader because it is constantly improving its understanding of the consumer to give them excellent and tasty products that provide nutrition, health, and wellness.” – Martial Rolland, chairman, Nestlé India Ltd., in 2006.

The ENTRY

Julius Maggi launched Maggi Products mainly to serve working women, who were left with little time to cook food, in swiss in 1882. Almost, 100 years later, in 1982, Maggi Noodles were launched in India, targeting the same segment of working women. Their positioning was a “Convenience Product” and an alternative for Meals and Dinner. Maggi had first mover advantage in Instant Noodles category.

The easy way to enter a consumer’s mind is “Being First”. Maggi created a new category called “Instant Noodles” in consumers mind and decided to utilize first mover advantage.

CHALLENGES

Nestle believed that Maggi had a high “Utility(Taste)” factor, which will help in selling the product. Unfortunately, Nestle faced with difficulty in selling after the initial phase. They were unable to enter minds of Indian Consumers as Rice and Roti have occupied a strong position.

Maggi was not competing against any competitor products but against consumer’s traditional behaviors.

Nestle understood that spending huge on advertisements is not going to change the consumer’s mind. They decided to do a detailed research.

IDENTIFY A BEHAVIOUR WITH LEAST RESISTANCE

During observational research, Nestle found out that people are not comfortable to substitute Maggi for Lunch or Dinner, as they prefer rice, roti and traditional foods for these routines. There is a huge resistance to change their behavior.

Jager Wender says, “It is not the frequency of behavior that determines the strength of a habit, but the degree to which the behavior has been automated and is being performed without cognitive elaboration”.

Thus, Nestle saw that the behavior is more automated for lunch and dinner, hence the habit is strong to break. So, the company started looking for occasions, where habits are weak, this process of change may be relatively easy to initiate.

Nestle identified “Evening Snacks” where User Behaviour is not strong towards any particular solution and at the same time, there were options for evening snacks, but those options had prominent problems.

They also observed that when children come home in evening after school, they are generally hungry and women have to cook something fast and give them.(Evening Snacks)

When Nestle looked at “Snacks” category, they had competition from

  • “Ready to Eat” bought out items like biscuits, Packed chips etc… -Consumers generally prefer to make it in at home than buy “Ready to Eat”
  • Homemade snacks were consuming a lot of time, which was not practical to do every day, particularly tough for working women.
  • Snacks from outside vendors were considered unhealthy

RE-POSITIONING from User’s Perspective

Nestle after User research and Market research, figured out that “Maggi” has to be promoted as “in-between” meals product and an alternate to “Evening Snacks”

Nestle also identified that Children liked the taste of Maggi Noodles. So, Nestle changed the target segment from Working Women to ” Children“. They were the ones who were ready to accept a tasty food(Their behaviors are not strong yet like adults), compared to older people who were still reluctant and attached to their habits.

“Maggi has managed to enter Indian homes to change the traditional food habits of Indian children on their promise of convenience. This brand has understood the psychology of Indian mothers and positioned itself for mother-child indulgence.” Business Week, a prominent business magazine, in 2006.

BUILDING CUES

CUE is needed to actuate a behavior, and the Cues are of 2 types – External and Internal.

  • Maggi’s advertisements of “Mum, I’m Hungry and Mom says “Bas 2 minute”” in TV acted as a huge external trigger
  • “2 minutes cooking” added a huge convenience factor, functioned as internal trigger
  • Nestle had leveraged its existing distribution channels and made Maggi noodles available in all nearby stores, thereby increasing the external visual cues.
  • Nestle distributed free trial packs in schools further to trigger the children
  • Utility Factor – Delicious Taste, which acted as an Internal Trigger to make people Crave more.
  • Emotional Connect – Children, their hunger, and happiness in meeting their needs.
  • Maggi sponsored “Hum Log” a popular television show in Doordarshan

ABILITY

People are generally resistant to learn or train new things if they are comfortable with their existing behavior. To make users change or adopt a new behavior, it is very important to make the product as simple as possible.

Simplicity means that a user needs less effort, time, money, cognitive effort to do the activities to achieve the goal and at the same time, those activities need no or less training and they are familiar with those activities.

  • Maggi’s 2-minute cooking tagline shows that working women can save TIME and EFFORT
  • Maggi’s TV “2 min Video” ads showed how to cook noodles – Consumers saw that there are only 2-3 steps in cooking, and those steps are very simple, familiar and easy to implement. It doesn’t demand any special skills – another driving factor.
  • Familiarity – India is known as the land of masala and curries. Nestle launched the masala Flavours (a taste consumers are familiar with), which was instrumental in making the brand a success.

Easy to Use and Easy to Learn are important elements in making a user to use your product/service

  • Consumers could see that there is no Cognitive visual load in using the product since it doesn’t involve remembering anything, process etc…
  • Consumers also realized that Maggi noodles will use fewer resources and also it uses readily available resources.
  • Trying out any new thing, some of us generally have a “Fear of Failure”. TV ads removed the fear completely, as it appeared very simple.
  • Maggi launched small packets and made sure that the packets are affordable so that consumers will try. Remember, Maggi was not sold at a cheaper price in 1980’s compared to other products, but then they came out with smaller packets, and the cost of those packets were affordable for many potential consumers. When the cost is high, there will be a resistance to try out a new product.
  • Easily availability of products due to strong distribution channels of Nestle

REWARD

What is a Reward? Why is it important? How does it feel when a person receives a reward? The reward is the reason, why people will repeat your behavior. A pleasant experience is a reward. When he or she experience intense feelings of pleasure, the reward circuitry is activated in the brain—with dopamine(neurotransmitters) carrying the message.

Due to Dopamine release, Our brains like us to repeat things that we enjoy—like eating a good meal. That’s why a little child often shouts “again!” when you do something to make her laugh.

  • When you review user messages of Maggi, one factor stands out – “DELICIOUS TASTE” – More than eating, it is Craving to Eat is a major pleasure. This craving is a reward and acts as Internal Trigger too.
  • Nestle gave gifts when consumers returned empty packets – An extrinsic reward. The gifts included Utensils, toys focusing the target segment. Gifts are based on the number of packets you return – Before you know about the reward program, you have already earned one empty packet cover, if you have bought one or got it free.
  • When you come home tired, there is a pleasure to feed your child quickly – A psychological, intrinsic reward.
  • Faster, you reach your goal(sense of accomplishment) is also a reward – 2 minutes of cooking tagline
  • Nobody is going to change his or her behavior for short term gains – If the product is going to affect health in long run, people may not adopt the product. Nestle was careful not to use “Ready to EAT” words in its promotion. Their tagline was “Fast to cook, Good to Eat”
  • Consumers also seek out rewards which their peers have achieved, a social obligation, acceptance – Nestle targeted children of Upper Middle class and Upper Class where Social Proof is high, where the idea can spread faster.

RE-INVENTION

Whatever the product we design if we allow some scope for the user to modify/innovate the product to meet their needs, thereby improve its overall compatibility. If there is scope for the re-invention, product’s usage will increase and cater to a variety of needs of customers, as India itself different from north to south. Their tastes vary differently.

Example – The housewife could be creative and add her own variation to the recipe by adding different vegetables to the noodles.

CONCLUSION

For Maggi’s success, there are other factors too like Consistency in taste, Brand Value etc… which is not covered in this article. References – Books by Nir Eyal, BJ Fogg and Stephen Wendel, Everett Rogers.

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