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2Minute Noodles but a 20 year Damage

India witnessed its first ever food recall last week when Nestle S.A.’s famed MAGGI noodles were recalled from store shelves on the ground that some packets of the noodles have a higher than permissible lead content.

MAGGI, a 100-year brand, was introduced in India in 1982.  Soon it became a household name, particularly in today’s world of busy mothers!  Brand MAGGI had such a value attached to it that Nestle S.A. started using it on soups, chicken broth cubes and other products. It even came out with a new line of Maggi noodles incorporating healthy ingredients such as oats to cater to the masses who had become more health conscious in the last couple of years.  Undoubtedly, MAGGI could be termed as a well-known mark!

For more than 30 years, Nestle worked hard to build a reputation for its MAGGI mark in India.  Suddenly in the last two weeks, the reputation has suffered a blow. Parents no longer wish to buy MAGGI noodles for their kids. Retail outlets no longer wish to stock MAGGI noodles on their shelves as they try to distance themselves from the crisis. Nestles S.A. has seen its shares plummet on the market and the value of its mark MAGGI decline. Additionally, the loss of faith of the consumer in the brand has resulted in a domino effect where consumers in India are rejecting other products bearing the MAGGI brand as well as Nestle S.A.’s other products such as coconut milk etc. There seems to be genuine fear in the minds of the health conscious consumer.

Nestle needs to combat the dent to its brand image fast and furious!  So far it appears that Nestle hasn’t done much.  By way of example, a few years ago, Cadburys’ faced a similar crisis when worms were found in a bar of Cadbury’s chocolate. It took close to nine months and a huge advertising expense to get the brand to where it was before. With the advent of the social media apart from the print and television media, no one can rightly say how long it will take before the mark MAGGI resurrects itself. Some doomsayers are even predicting the death of the mark. One of the integral aspects of a trademark is that it assures the consumer as to the high quality of the product based on its good reputation. In this case, there has been a heavy damage to the reputation of the mark and Nestle S.A. may just decide to put an end to the mark, sad as it may seem, to resurrect sales of their ready to cook noodles.

It may take two minutes to cook a packet of MAGGI noodles, but it took only two weeks to damage its reputation and it may take twenty years or more years for Nestle S.A. to resurrect the image of the mark MAGGI.

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