When picturing a steaming plate of poha, accompanied by a perfectly brewed cuppa chai - you're likely to be thinking of a simple, yet perfect breakfast. Light, wholesome, healthy are three words that commonly pop into a person's mind when they think of the meal that kicks off their day. Previously, in the ready to eat space, MTR was well known for their poha and upma offerings. Interestingly, Maggi is now getting into this space with packed ready to eat offerings and MTR is entering the 'cup space' - something which was brought to India by Maggi's Instant Cup Noodles variant.
To understand the space better, we spoke to independent brand consultant Jyotsna Yallapalli - a seasoned brand strategic planner who worked on portfolios like Pepsi Foods, Saffola, and studied major food brands like Maggi etc - as competitors, as part of the strategic process, opines that though it was a fantastic move from Maggie to extend its presence to a different and larger meal occasion, it is a delayed move from Maggie, with MTR, Kellogg’s, Saffola Oats range dominating the breakfast-convenience mind space.
She opines that the trend has come full circle with Maggi offering poha and MTR offering the cup format. "For Maggi, the proposition of the product portfolio has always been 'tasty, healthy food' which is easy to prepare. However, it remains to be seen if Maggi will be seen as a healthy breakfast alternative. Saffola is another brand which has been in the market for a while and is well known for their oats and breakfast offerings," she mentions.
She opines that the trend has come full circle with Maggi offering poha and MTR offering poha in a cup format. "Maggi has consciously been built on 'taste and convenience', a delicious snack that is easy to prepare. And through healthier variants like atta noodles, it has been attempting to gather a stronger grip on 'being healthy.' However, it remains to be seen if Maggi will be seen as a healthy breakfast alternative. Saffola is another brand which has been in the market for sometime and do enjoy stronger associations with oats-based breakfast choices,” she mentions.
"This isn't a brand diversification effort - it is a brand extension. Breakfast, in comparison with other main meal occasions like lunch and dinner, are a relatively healthier occasion, when people prefer to have or make an effort to have something healthy or wholesome, freshly prepared; preferably home-made food. But, in this age of fast paced work-bound lifestyles, breakfast time is a rushed affair, the most hurried meal of the day. Most young adults (including newly married couples, millennials living alone) don't have the time to sit down to have a leisurely breakfast. Which means, there does exist an opportunity for 'an authentic ethnic tiffin/breakfast that can easily be fixed. In this space, it's logical that Maggi is extending its brand proposition of 'convenient' and 'tasty' and adding 'healthy' to the mix. They're also extending the brand's consumption to a different consumption occasion - since Maggi is mostly consumed as an indulgent evening snack," she explains.
"Maggi's equity is built on taste and convenience, with noodles, the indulgence/the evening snack food as the core product. Whereas MTR's equity rests on the brand’s proven expertise in offering Authentic South Indian breakfast items and other main dishes," Yallapalli says. "Maggi’s move into breakfast space does seem logical as Poha, Upma, which usually are seen as healthier-lighter breakfast choices versus heavier breakfast choices like paratha, dosa, puri etc, would create 'lighter and wholesome' perceptions around the mother brand, at an overall level, she explains.
Earlier this year, instant food brand Gits Foods also introduced a range of ready to eat foods - including a cup-based poha product. What caught our eye with these ads was that they didn't just reference young adults who were too busy to cook - the brand also took a dig at the common practice of ordering food online, which isn't necessarily the healthiest option for most adults.
Interestingly enough, earlier this year, Statista published a study which showed that the packaged food available in India is among the unhealthiest in the world.