Theodore Levitt’s concept of Marketing Myopia challenged marketers to shift from an approach that was inward looking, to a focus on the needs of consumers. Similarly, when we create brands we need to start shifting our focus to look beyond the conventional and add new dimensions, because lifestyles are changing and so is the consumer. The difference lies in the ultimate objective. The model that I have used to create successful brands is to WIN CONSUMERS HEARTS not just their minds.
Of course, some basic ground rules will not change.
Let’s review Maggi’s journey as an example of such a pioneering shift in thinking. Maggi launched instant noodles in India over 25 years ago when the concept was alien and the market did not even exist. It created the market, stayed relevant with changing times, became integral to the lives of consumers and is today one of the most trusted and successful brands in the country.
The important thing to remember is that creating a brand is not a one- time activity. It is continuous hard work and we need to be totally immersed in the process. Taking that as a given, I have a ‘Seven Point’ program for creating and nurturing successful brands. They all need to be leveraged together:
Understand your consumer deeply: Consumer insights have to be continuously mined because they lead to better understanding of future needs. Maggi has immersed itself in the lives of Indian consumers, constantly going deeper beyond the obvious, and searching for the ‘moment of truth’. This helped to develop the pioneering concept of ‘Taste Bhi Health Bhi’, ahead of other food products.
Ensure consistent product superiority: There has to be a benchmark against which we create and sustain product superiority. Maggi has followed the ‘60:40+’ concept, that is ensure that at least 60 per cent of consumers prefer your product over competition on taste, with the added ‘plus’ of a nutritional advantage.
Communicate to build a deep ‘connect’ with consumers: In the yesteryears, most advertising was based on a rational reason - why to buy the product (tangibles like product delivery, price, etc). However, today’s consumers look for more than that. They want products that they can ‘connect’ with, that engage them, and the brands that do this can build long lasting emotional relationships with them.
The advertising for Maggi has always struck an emotional chord with consumers, and more recently the ‘Me and Meri Maggi’ campaign celebrated the emotional relationship that consumers have with Maggi, a relationship that is not easy to replicate. Instead of the brand talking to the consumers, it allowed the consumers to talk about their brand. This is one of the most impactful campaigns of recent years. The advertising for Maggi is an excellent barometer of how it continues to stay relevant and contemporary for today’s consumers.
Innovate ahead of consumer demand, anticipating their future needs: This is what creates true consumer delight. In 1984, Maggi launched two-minute noodles, when the market did not exist. Maggi is like our mothers. Constantly understanding our lifestyles as we grow, anticipating our needs, preparing for them and nurturing them, sensing the change in our personalities and speaking our language. Our mothers adapt to our changing needs but remain steadfast on the family values. In the same way Maggi has immersed itself in the lives of the entire family to see how it can provide what they want and in the way that they want it.
Provide and constantly enhance value: Consumers across all socio-economic groups are looking for value. Maggi has constantly enhanced the value it provides across its range of products. On the one hand, it developed and maintained Maggi Noodles packs at Rs 5 and Rs 10 and on the other hand, it continued to develop products that added value.
Provide ‘Solutions’ not just Products: Maggi recently initiated an SMS campaign to help consumers in the routine act of cooking by providing simple recipes and health tips everyday. These recipes are also demonstrated ‘live’ in the Maggi ‘Taste Bhi Health Bhi’ kitchens conducted in consumer homes across the country.
Be available wherever and whenever the consumer wants you: There is no substitute for easy availability of the product if you want to build a strong brand. Maggi continues to expand reach and penetration and is growing the market. But if you do not have the other elements right, wide distribution without consumer ‘pull’ cannot work!
(Shivani Hegde is General Manager (Foods) at Nestle India.)