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History of Maggi in India

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Apr 11, 2020 5:27 AM 2 min read

In the late 19th century, the Swiss government tasked an entrepreneur named Julius Maggi with a job: “To create a product that would be quick to prepare yet nutritious as more and more women [are] working outside the home.”


The result? Maggi Noodles, the ubiquitous brand found and loved everywhere in India today. 


Here's a less than "two-minute" historical take on how Maggi Noodles conquered India. 


History of Maggi in India


Tryst with Noodles

Maggi’s relationship with India is a well-established one. It was acquired by Swiss multinational Nestle in – incidentally – 1947. Nestle’s Maggi first arrived in India in 1983 – incidentally, the first time India lifted the Cricket World Cup - and became an instant hit.


Its selling point in the 1980s was the same message that motivated its invention in the first place – to cater to the needs of women who were increasingly joining the workforce. And in a nation whose cuisines tend to be elaborate and slow-cooked, a two-minute meal was an instant appeal. Kids loved Maggi – it was fun and tasty; as did parents – it was convenient and purportedly healthy.


A Rocky and Lucrative Ride

India soon became the biggest market for Maggi noodles, which is also Nestle India’s single-largest revenue earner. However, the special relationship hit the rocks in 2015 when allegations that the noodles contained chemicals beyond prescribed limits led to Maggi being banned for about six months.


Maggi returned to the shelves after multiple clearances from Government-certified laboratories – and while its brand image had taken a devastating hit, it staged a swift rebound and re-conquered 60% of the market share by 2017.


The Gift of the Maggi

Maggi’s resurgence and reach are testaments to the power of good branding (and skilful use of nostalgia in marketing). Maggi can be found in every nook and corner of the country today – from Himalayan trekking hotspots to beach resorts along the Malabar coast.


In the four decades since it conquered India, despite stiff competition from other noodle brands, a market that wasn’t used to noodle dishes and several other obstacles, Maggi found a way to build a large and loyal customer base. Through it all, its selling point has remained largely the same – convenience (ready in two minutes), health (“Taste Bhi Health Bhi”) and happiness (“2 Minute Mein Khyshiyan”). Good marketing never fails to pay!


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