On Tuesday, Nestle found itself caught in the middle of fresh controversy, as there were reports of live larvae being detected in the company’s baby milk powder and being declared as unsafe by the Tamil Nadu Food Safety Wing. A report from the Food Analysis Laboratory in Coimbatore confirmed that a 380g Nestle NAN PRO 3 carton contained 28 live larvae and 22 rice weevils. The larvae were found by a taxi driver from Coimbatore, who bought the Nestle milk powder for his twin babies, one of whom was hospitalised after having the milk. Soon Nestle started trending on Twitter, with people bashing the brand after this shocking revelation.
Sharing his views on how is Nestle handling the fiasco in the social media space, Rajiv Dingra, Founder & CEO, WATConsult said, “The brand is not dealing with it too well because the tone and the approach is too defensive. Infact, initially it was quite dismissive as well, which is wrong because consumers would expect large conglomerates to be a little more receptive and caring towards the concerns placed by the people. Some sort of empathy in communication will bring a lot of genuineness because no one likes a PR/legal approach.”
Reportedly, things also turned bad for Maggi, when a court in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district ordered an FIR against the Maggi brand ambassadors Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta, it also directed the police to make arrests if required in the course of investigation. Celebrities like Pooja Bedi, Shobhaa De, Salman Rushdie and Shekhar Kapoor took to Twitter to voice their displeasure on why endorsers are getting dragged in this. Also more than 1,500 supply outlets in Kerala, ask Nestle to take back the stock as they decide to take Maggi off the shelf.
Pravin Thakur, Digital Media Consultant, ibrand explained that in a country like ours, brand image doesn’t get affected for long. These are all mishaps and no brand does it willingly, if it happens, the brand will formulate a strategy and recover. “For sensitive items like food for toddlers, sales will get affected, because if I have kids and I read such news, I won’t buy Nestle milk powder again, I will be more cautious, but for the youth and the elder category products, the impact will not be more than 10 days,” he cited.
According to Jagdeep Kapoor, Chairman & Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consults, Maggi is a very strong brand and it has a trusted place in the minds and hearts of consumers. The brand has been growing and will continue to grow. Nestle is a responsible company and the brand Maggi will still be loved by consumers and the trade. For decades, Maggi as a brand has found a place in the minds and hearts of Indian consumers and they have grown up with it, that place is not suddenly going to be lost.
Here is a screenshot of few of the conversations: