Nestle India’s popular instant noodles Maggi has made a comeback — five months after the company was banned from selling the product in India for allegedly containing lead beyond permissible levels, but this time around the company will not leverage brand ambassadors Amitabh Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit to reconnect with the masses.
Suresh Narayanan, chairman and managing director, Nestle India, said, “Our promotional strategy will be across three platforms. We will use traditional media to reassure our consumers regarding the safety of our product. We will connect digitally with our target group. Besides, there will be a lot of events for brand activation.”
When asked about Nestle India’s contracts with brand ambassadors Amitabh Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit for promoting Maggi, Narayanan said, “The earlier contract has lapsed. We have not reached fresh agreements. We are not ruling it out forever but as of now we do not plan to use brand ambassadors for promoting the product.” A court case had been filed against Amitabh Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit in Uttar Pradesh in June when food regulators where testing the product. Narayanan said there will be a “fairly substantial” increase in marketing spends and advertising campaigns to bring back customers in whose minds “ a seed of doubt has been planted” due to the crisis.
Nestle India launched Maggi in 100 towns through 300-odd distributors on Monday, The product will be rolled out in many more areas in the coming days. Prior to the ban, the company was selling Maggi through four million outlets in 450 towns.
Maggi would now be available across the country except in Bihar, Odisha, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where the company is yet to secure the requisite clearances. The company is engaging with these eight states to complete due diligence procedures.
Maggi noodles would now be available only in the masala variant at the same price as of June 2015. The other formats would be introduced gradually. “We have relaunched Maggi. We have been through arguably a very big crisis in the last couple of months. I am glad that we have been able to vindicate once again, the quality, safety and credentials as we reintroduce Maggi selectively…”, said Narayanan.
Narayanan added Nestle India has not changed the contents of Maggi. He informed, “We are giving what consumers have loved for 32 years, the only change is on the package. There is a small set of words that conveys the company’s commitment to quality and goodness that consumers can trust.”
The company is presently manufacturing Maggi noodles at three locations – Nanjangud (Karnataka), Moga (Punjab) and Bicholim (Goa). Two more plants in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where the instant noodles is still banned, are yet to start. The company is engaging with authorities there in order to start production in those two units at the earliest.
Maggi had to undergo tests in three government-accredited laboratories in Jaipur, Hyderabad and Mohali, as ordered by the Bombay High Court prior to commencing sales in the market.
The Swiss food major has also partnered with online marketplace Snapdeal for selling Maggi.
Post the Maggi crisis, Narayanan said Nestle India will go for product portfolio diversification with focus on dairy, coffee and beverages as well as chocolates and confectionery in order to avoid over-dependence on a single product.