Shreyas Kulkarni

Maggi takes the 'desi ingredients' route in a new ad

What's surprising is that there's no focus on the '2 minutes mein ready' trope.

For over three decades, Maggi noodles has ruled tiffin boxes, hostel kitchens and dinner tables in India. It has become a must-have snack in most Indian kitchens.

One of the major reasons for its success is its '2 Minutes' communication: Simply boil water, break the (noodle) cake into pieces, add it to the water along with the provided masala (tastemaker) and vegetables, stir it, and it's ready. All this in 2 minutes. The tastemaker sachet is so popular that you can buy it separately and use it to cook vegetables and curries.

The assurance of easy preparation has worked wonders for the brand, making it a dominant noodle snack in India. At one point, Maggi noodles enjoyed 90 per cent (of the) market share in India.

Over the years, Maggi noodles' communication, i.e., The focus on easy preparation and the '2 Minutes' claim hasn't changed because it worked. But now, the brand's recent ad for its 'Spicy Masala Noodle' variant caught our eye.

The ad takes us through a journey of India, like those 'Incredible India' ads. But, it’s from the lens of spices and how they give shape and character to the region, thereby making the Maggi noodle variant 'special'. There’s no '2 Minutes' claim, or a close shot of peas and carrots being added to a simmering bowl of noodles.

We asked two industry experts on what they thought about this change in brand communication.

Divya Agarwal, senior planning director, Ogilvy

Divya Agarwal
Divya Agarwal

With over three decades of existence, Maggi has become integral to Indian food and families. It’s permeated from an instant snack to a snacking icon that’s akin to a staple. Especially in one with kids and youngsters. But not limited to them.

I recall there was a time a few years back when even my parents, who are both 60-plus, were gorging on Maggi every other night for a week. They created new variations and avatars in the kitchen in what they called a ‘seconds experiments’.

Maggi is ubiquitous to our collective culture. And the core of this instant snack is a power-packed nucleus of a sachet loaded with a unique assortment of spices. This little pack is so central to Maggi noodles, giving it that signature taste, that, in fact, a lack of this, if ever, is unimaginable. Umpteen memes equate it to worst luck.

Traditionally, from what I recall, Maggi has never cashed on this mix explicitly, or ever spoken of it. The sprinkle shots over a bowl of steaming noodles are always clear, but that’s more as a product shot. The communication emphasis has been on other payoffs, ranging from health and taste to convenience. The last communication takes that ease of cooking to a mother teaching her son how to get ‘hostel ready’ by helping him cook his first ‘meal’.

This latest ad gives the seasoning sachet its long due! It makes it central to the story and ends with showing a new variant, ‘special’.

Beautifully crafted shots take you on a journey across the country and the spices that go into making the masala are shown – haldi, mirch, dhania, et al. These spices are pivotal to every Indian kitchen, neatly put in small bowls in a spice box, or masaldaani. They go into food every day, every meal and probably into the core variant of Maggi, too.

From my experience on working on QSR brands, like McDonald’s, staple brands like Aashirwaad, snacking brands from Britannia and other food beverages-related projects, novelty is always a big pull in the food retail category and is bound to induce trials. I have no doubts that this new variant will induce trials as well. The repeat, however, is purely a function of the personal palate and how ‘special’ it seems and tastes.

What would have probably been truly special is to have a range of special flavours inspired from different regions in India. This long, wanderlust-inducing ad, starkly different from past Maggi imagery, would have justified a slightly premium range like that, too.

Plus, given the current COVID times, travel is at a halt, and increased incidence of snacking at home, a truly special experience would have been a little tour across the country, just like the ad shows, but in our kitchens, one comforting ‘special’ pack at a time.

Ronita Mitra, founder, Brand Eagle Consulting, and a business consultant (former marketing manager at Marico and J&J)

Ronita Mitra
Ronita Mitra

Maggi has always targeted children (and, therefore, moms) with the benefit of "quick to prepare" snack.

In the current environment, where entire families, along with the children, are at home, the focus has turned towards cooking more at home with the advantage of more planned cooking. The relevance and need for a "quick to prepare" snack for children has diminished in the current context.

Maggi is offering what is relevant for families today: A wholesome noodle snack/meal for the entire family since the needs of all members of the family have converged today. It is a departure from its core proposition. The brands do need to evolve... Brands stay meaningful and relevant to consumers only if they can offer solutions that are relevant in the existing circumstances.

It is possible that Maggi will use this product as a launchpad for more offerings that are relevant to the changing consumer context and needs. It is possible that Maggi will develop and launch more offerings to address the changing snacking and meal needs.

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