Friday, June 5, 2015

The one sided love affair between Maggi loyalists and Nestle India!

If you have clicked on this article chances are that you are well aware of the ongoing issue involving India’s one of the most loved instant food items, ‘Maggi’. After many states conducted tests and found that Maggi contains MSG well above the permissible limits, the issue came into the limelight. It kept simmering for a couple of weeks for reasons no one knows.
While all this was happening, the young Indian generation that grew up on Maggi and still swears by it, never betrayed it. Although many people expressed their disappointment at the presence of toxic content, general sentiment was, “Maggi fed me when I was a kid, it was my savior when I was in college, when I was bachelor. Maggi saves the day even today when I am married and have little appetite or no strength to cook after a hard day at work. I cannot simply chuck Maggi and move on”. With the credibility of our state labs not at par, people still waited for assertion from Nestle that they were not at fault.

The painful wait was getting more uncomfortable with each passing moment but Nestle did nothing to assure its loyal customers. Instead they tried avoiding the direct questions which aggravated the situation. Rather than plainly telling how much the difference was between MSG quantity found in their internal testing and that found in government labs, they chose to stick to side questions such as ‘Why is there any lead at all in MAGGI Noodles?’ and  'Is Monosodium glutamate (MSG) unsafe?’

On one hand we have loyal customers who are not willing to switch to other instant noodles. They would probably stop eating noodles than switching to other brands. On the other hand we have Nestle who didn’t bother to make any real effort to save the trust and simply let it become the worst PR disaster in recent times.

Compare it with Cadbury’s response when worms were found in some of their chocolates. They not only responded in a timely manner, owned up the fault, made the course correction and roped in the biggest possible name India easily relates to (Amitabh Bachchan) in order to assert the people that they have have done whatever it takes to ensure that such things don’t happen again. It was called a PR win and is a case study in marketing/sales field. Nestle just hid its neck in sand and let its brand ambassadors also come under fire. The way things are going, it will also become a case study but of a contrasting nature.

All said and done, for kids of the 80’s and 90’s Maggi is like first love which cannot be forgotten. There can be only one first love, it cannot be replaced. As Datto of Tanu Weds Manu returns says, “I either win or lose. I don’t play for consolation prize”. If not Maggi then no other instant Noodle either. May be this will be a trigger towards chucking other unhealthy food items we consume (Carbonated drinks, processed cheese, Pizzas, fries etc.) unless people see it as conspiracy to promote Baba Ramdev’s desi food items. Considering the way Indian media works, I won’t be surprised if they start spinning it like this.

This article is written by Nitin Nigam. Follow him on Twitter here and Facebook here