Sanjeev Kotnala: Maggi and its many Lovers

17 Jun,2015

By Sanjeev Kotnala

 

‘Yeah, yeah, Uncle I know all this high decibel noise being created about Maggi and its illegal hidden affair with MSG. But, I don’t believe. I want as a protest. I want to start an ‘I Love Maggi Day’ or better ‘Get My Maggi Back Day’. All Maggi lovers will have at least one flavour of Maggi that day. If everybody who ever had Maggi was doing that, it will finish all the stock the government wants withdrawn. Definitely more environmentally friendly way to take care of it?’ This was Shweta, younger daughter of my friend said while really feeling the pinch of being denied her favourite Maggi.

 

She asked if June 21 June would be a good day for the protest. I told here that there was a small problem: where will she find Maggi. She stopped for a moment and then said ‘yeah man you are right, so kids who cannot have Maggi will do a symbolic Maggi breakfast fast. In the evening, she visualises kids in Maggi brand colours with empty plates and fork walking in protest. All they will be carrying are two placards. ‘I LOVE MY MAGGI’ and ‘DECIDE FAST’.

 

All she wishes is to get her Maggi back. It is on the brand to ensure an early return to shelves before kids like her find new love.

 

To me this is  a demonstration of brand loyalty and power. It was like a mother who believes her son can do no wrong. Who believes that all the neighbours are unnecessarily complaining.

 

The brand Maggi is not dead. It is not even in ICU. It cannot be allowed to die. It will make a come back. Sequels better than Hera {heri or Golmaal.

 

I have been having Maggi since I was at IIM Ahmedabad, when it was the only thing you could surely find in all hostel pantries for late night snacks, much after even Soma Bhai tea stall at the gate was closed. Nothing happened. Another pack would do us no harm. With that thought, the Kotnala family for its love for Maggi, had a Maggi breakfast Sunday. It sounds so odd. When I asked for Maggi, the shopkeepers raised their eyebrows and gave me a knowing smile. I was not the only customer asking for Maggi. I could read his mind, given time; he could sell his stock at premium. And Shweta’s words started making sense.

 

The marketer and the writer in me went hunting. The large subset waiting to give the brand a second chance was too bold to be ignored. It was their first and true love, with McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, all they have is a side affair.

 

The Indifferent Dad. They ask their wives to take care of the issue.  They anyway were not the one pushing Maggi. If kids cannot have Maggi, then the mother must find an alternative to pacify them. That’s their way of resolving the issue. The day Maggi finds a solution, they will be Ok with it.

 

I Told You So Dad. These are the super-literate highly logical people. They believe and take statements made in media at its face value. They philosophically add ‘ Brand you trust are the brand that break your trust’. They will willingly re-align to new-improved-equalised MSG MAGGI as and when it comes back. But till then Maggi is a no-no.

 

It Is A Conspiracy Dad. They are the other extreme of rational thinking. They have many unanswered questions and their own theories. Why tests at some of the states are negative? Why all states are not withdrawing it? How come Singapore approved it? Is Maggi is so bad? Why not ban cigarettes and drinks too? Is the street food safe, why not check that? Why is the US suddenly finding fault with Haldiram? To them this is a larger conspiracy with some political vendetta. Most of them do not find Maggi at fault.

 

The Hurt Mom. They are feeling let down. It took them time to adapt to Maggi. See the goodness in it. They welcomed it; they could add vegetables for the kids to have. The ease of making was something they always liked. They believe Maggi is not bad if not being good. But their motherly instinct hold them back from serving it now when its quality is a suspect. They are waiting for their own 2-minute kids pacifying fame to get back.

 

The Anti-Maggi Mom. In the kitty party, while subtly showing off well-manicured nails, she speaks in a condaescending tone ‘We never give Maggi… It is not good, I knew it. How come something packed and fast to cook could be good.”  Their friends ignore her comment and side-step the discussion.

 

When Will Maggi Be Back Kids. How has life changed? In Indore, they are back to Poha Jalebi. In Mumbai, to Goli Vada Pav. The Delhi gang is being fed Chjole Kulche or Aloo Parantha and so on. But they are missing their Maggi. They are waiting. This is the biggest subset. I believe if Shweta was to go ahead, a lot of them will join her.

 

THE OLD ROMANTICS. The 40-plus age group. Gender-neutral. They grew up with Maggi. They are witness to the brand progress, from early rejection to a glorified adaptation and then becoming part of family, a staple diet. They have stories of Maggi dependency in college. For them a lot has happened over a pate of Maggi-Andaa before CCD came into picture. They are Romantics and the love for their old flame is alive. They surely rubbish the claims. They are like Salman fans, Maggi can not do wrong and they trust Nestle.

 

I am of the firm opinion that the subset that believes in MAGGI is huge. They argue that MSG level should be checked at cooked level and not in masala sachet level. A point of view shared and popularised by Nestle.  They understand that ‘No Added MSG’ is wrong but willing to accept it.

 

All they want is a fast resolution, so that they can get back to having Maggi.

 

Hopefully, Nestle does not get over-confident and arrogant on this surge of love for the brand. They need to find the way to innovate and give the same taste in formats that are prescribed and acceptable to the controlling body. Getting into a long-term legal tussle is definitely not in favour of the brand. Nestle. It needs to get back much before the kids and their fans find a new better more contemporary exciting replacement in their life.

 

Sanjeev Kotnala is Founder and Head Catalyst at Intradia. A Brand, Marketing and ManagementAdvisor. He conducts specialised workshops in the area of IDEATION (Harvest and Liberate) and Innovation (InNoWait). His focus energy in enhancing client’s internal team’s potential and capabilities. In processdecreasing their dependence  on external resources. To contact email sanjeev@intradia.in  or tweet at s_kotnala visit www.intradia.inwww.sanjeevkotnala.com.

 

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