The biggest food scare ever reported in India, the recent allegations made against Nestle India’s Meri Maggi noodles and its nationwide ban in India will be discussed in this Social Media Analysis: ‘Meri Maggi’ fan crisis specifically analysing their social strategy to contain the fan madness in their social networks which might affect the Nestle brand in whole.
The top stand alone brand of Nestle India is ‘Meri Maggi’ (Instant Noodles). Recently a set of controversial allegations was made by the Uttar Pradesh, India FDA (Food & Drug Administration) regarding the lead content and MSG in Meri Maggi noodle packets resulted in a nationwide ban for Nestle’s Meri Maggi.
However, Group CEO Paul Bulcke stated on a Press conference in New Delhi that Nestle’s own and third-party tests had found that the product was “safe for consumption”. According to the Nestle site, it states “Nestlé India has tested around 1,000 batches of MAGGI Noodles in our own laboratories and also asked an independent lab to test an additional 600 product batches. These tests covered batches totalling 125 million or 12.5 Crore packets of noodles in total. These tests found that levels of lead in the products were within the food safety limits specified by the Indian authorities.”
Source : Nestle India Website
With the Government forcing a nationwide ban for Nestle on 3rd June, 2015; India is planning to sue Nestle for damages, it is the first time India taking on legal actions against a multinational company. With the ban, over 500 workers at the Maggi Factory lost their jobs, big companies like Nestle holds a strong hand on a country’s economy. However, Merri Maggi is only 1% of Nestle’s global sales, but the damage to its brand worldwide is immeasurable.
Online Crisis Management
As soon as the “Maggi Noodles scare” began Nestle took on their highly engaged social networks to address the issue and keep the issue contained to avoid altercations towards its other brands. They instantly developed a web portal “Ask Nestle: Maggi noodles in India, your questions answered” to provide FAQ’s on the scare and also allowing consumers to post questions they need answers. The following are some of the standard FAQs developed by Nestle India for the general public through their site;
“ If it’s safe, why are you recalling the product?
In India, we have been asked by the regulator to recall the product and we have stopped selling it. In fact, before the order was issued, Nestlé India had announced it had stopped selling MAGGI Noodles. This is because recent developments and growing concerns about the product have led to confusion for the consumer to such an extent that Nestlé India felt it was necessary to take the product out of the market while we engage closely with the regulators and others to discuss the situation.“
See the full list of FAQs here
All the important pieces of information a Nestle Maggi consumer should know or would crave to know is added to the site to be read and clarified.
The official Facebook fan page for Maggi Noodles doesn’t post frequently, however, after the allegations made by the Uttar Pradesh FDA, they took on Facebook and posted the following;
This post has gotten over 63,400 likes, 17,884 comments and over 8,500 shares. This shows how much of a buzz this event created and the amount of concerned people who started interacting with these pages to ensure the safety of their everyday using products.
Another smart move adopted by the Nestle Social media team is that they’ve replied to most of the fan comments concerning the issue. They seem to have a specific ‘answer/reply structure’ in place. To address a controversial storm like this, the above strategy is the most plausible choice. However, what matters is that the brand took the time to attain to their customers.
A notable comment was made by loyal fan named Jerome Jesuraja which many fans seems to agree with,
Nestle India followed the same strategy on Twitter which they followed on their Facebook pages.
MAGGI Noodles will return to the shelves as soon as the unfounded concerns have been clarified http://t.co/PFNKhoIBbX
— Maggi India (@MaggiIndia) June 4, 2015
Nestle India replying to a postive tweet from a fan;
A Heartwarming tweet from a Maggi lover;
@MaggiIndia Still remember my first Maggi, almost 31 years back. Waiting for controversies to end, we will again enjoy our do minute Maggi.
— PRAWEEN (@iampraween) June 4, 2015
Despite the controversy in India, a similar but yet a small scale social buzz occurred in Nestle Sri Lanka- Maggi Devilled Sri Lanka’s Facebook page. Few fans raised concerns over the allegations made by the Indian Regulators on Maggi Noodles and they stated the fact that they fear the same could be presented at Maggi noodles in Sri Lanka. Nestle Sri Lanka replied to those comments with the following structured reply;
Quote “Hi (Fan’s name), The quality and safety of our products is the top priority for the company. MAGGI Noodles is locally produced at our factory in Pannala, Kurunegala, maintaining all the food laws and regulations applicable for Sri Lanka, winning the trust of consumers for 30 years. We regularly monitor our products and raw materials for food safety as part of our stringent quality control processes, including testing by accredited laboratories.These tests have consistently shown MAGGI Noodles to be compliant with all food safety norms and is safe for consumption by the entire family.”