Saumya Tewari

Maggi Noodles: A 'Healthy' Leap

Move over cornflakes, cereals and muesli. Maggi wants to hit breakfast tables with 'Oats Noodles'.

If someone asks for Maggi, you can bet that it is the noodles he is referring to, not any of the other products that carry the Maggi name. That is how popular Nestle Maggi is in India.

Maggi Noodles: A 'Healthy' Leap
Now, the much-loved instant noodle brand is repositioning itself as a healthy breakfast option with the launch of "Oats Noodles". The brand claims that each pack of Maggi Oats noodle packs the goodness of fibre contained in one bowl of oats and real vegetables. The new TVC, launched by Nestle, makes things very clear.

Executed by Publicis, the TV campaign stars Maggi's ambassador Madhuri Dixit Nene. The 55-seconder opens with the Bollywood diva dressed in gym wear waking up her family in the morning, urging them to do aerobics. Her kids, and husband, who do a quick exercise session with her, join in. Exhausted, she proposes to serve healthy and tasty 'oats' breakfast. The children seem confused about oats being called tasty. They are then served a steaming bowl of Maggi oats noodles, which they savour. The film ends with the message "Health is Enjoyable".

The brand story so far

According to research firm Euro Monitor, Nestlé India is the dominant player in noodles with a 60 per cent share of retail value sales in 2013. Brand 'Maggi' has performed very well due to the wide distribution network. It also enjoys consumer loyalty owing to the fact that it was the first instant noodle brand to be introduced in India.

Nestlé India has also been proactive in launching new variants, such as Maggi Dumdaar noodles, Maggi Atta noodles and Maggi Curry Noodles. However, it has been facing competition from new entrants like Hindustan Unilever's Knorr and ITC's Yippie who are looking to take a significant share in the Rs 2,200-crore instant noodles market.

The other key players operating in the oats category include Pepsi-Co's Quaker Oats, Marico's Saffola Oats, Kellogg India's Oats Bites and GlaxoSmithKline's Horlicks oats.

A steaming bowl of health

Our experts believe that Maggi has taken a step ahead in its India story with this launch. India is witnessing a major growth in the breakfast category with a host of brands competing to take a bite into the market share.

Maggi Noodles: A 'Healthy' Leap
Maggi Noodles: A 'Healthy' Leap
Maggi Noodles: A 'Healthy' Leap
Kiran Khalap, co-founder, Chlorophyll, believes that while Maggi may have started as a 'foreign' concept (noodles), there is enough research to show that Maggi Noodles is now the 'third staple' in India after rice and wheat. The new product is an attempt to find a new occasion - breakfast. The choice of brand ambassador is "bang on" since it is speaking to mainstream Indian families.

Khalap explains a unique concept of 'credit-debit' that Indians follow when it comes to health issues. "Give in to the temptation of an unhealthy pizza but run an extra 100 m the next day; feast on rosogollas one day, then have only Diet Coke the next day," he explains adding that oats is equated with health just the way tulsi is associated with cold or haldi with antiseptic.

Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, points out that Maggi has exhausted itself as a snack. He says that while older people will still prefer unhurried breakfast options like idli, upma or poha, the young consumer (also the brand's TG) will take to Maggi Oats. It is in direct competition with brands like Kellogg Cornflakes, Quaker Oats and cereal brands.

"In the food category, there are serious food moments and frivolous food moments. Maggi has established itself as a 4 pm snack, which is usually not considered wholesome. With this new launch the brand aims to give consumers serious food moments which usually happen at breakfast, lunch or dinner," he explains.

Antony Rajkumar, planning head, Leo Burnett Delhi, believes that bringing Maggi on to the breakfast table doesn't mean that the brand is abandoning its current strong snack/convenience position. He dubs Maggi's move as 'moving up the consumption clock'. The breakfast market is a big opportunity to build its "healthy" image and extend its "convenience food" proposition to the busiest hour in a household.

The ad, he feels, is possibly aimed at the urban wife or mother who is hard-pressed for time in the morning rush hour but still wants the satisfaction of serving up the right stuff to her family at breakfast. He, however, feels that the campaign has too many elements in it. "Maggi, a very dominant brand, could have played to its strength better," he asserts.

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