Respond, reset and reconsider


Covid-19 is not just a health challenge, but also a humanitarian call to redefine the way in which humans live, engage and work innovatively. Food companies need to leverage their in-depth knowledge of food habits, nutrition, quality and safety in order to innovate and also adapt to this new normal.

There has been an increase in in-home indulgence as a way of seeking small pleasures, and consumers are experimenting with new cuisines and cooking styles. Alongside this, Covid-19 has also led to enormous concern about nutrition, quality and safety of brands and products among consumers. The kind of nutrition a brand seeks to offer and its trustworthiness have become key parameters of a consumer’s choice.

To cater to the rise in in-home indulgence, Nestlé India introduced a ‘Maggi - Cooking Made Simple’ service. It was made available through our website and it brought forth the most popular recipes from across the country. Different recipes and master classes with Milkmaid and Nescafé were also held to engage with consumers during the lockdown. AskNestlé2.0, an intuitive mobile website, provides real-time and personalised advice on nutrition that is balanced, relevant, scientifically derived and can be customised for the audience.

Clearly, the e-commerce journey is here to stay and there will be re-calibration of channels. Going forward, consumers are going to be more digitally active than they were, and food companies with a strong digital-first capability are the ones that are going to hold the consumer’s interest for a long time. Nestlé India’s Milo rolled out a workout video that offers advice on simple exercises that parents and children can do together at home. Milkybar ‘Play Eat Learn’ digital campaign launched a series of simple DIY ideas and Munch partnered with Star Network to launch a campaign which celebrated the confidence and spirit of many young Indians and their families during these testing times.

Companies need to focus on three Rs—respond to the new demand, reset their defining relationships with consumers, and reconsider their product portfolio in the post-Covid era to make the product healthier while also allowing consumers to make a pleasurable and indulgent choice.

To ensure smooth supply of our products, Nestlé India provided its own transportation and manpower service to suppliers who were impacted, and facilitated direct procurement of ingredients. We also adapted alternative formats of packaging.

We have stood by our nearly one lakh dairy farmers and have ensured that every drop of milk they gave us has been taken into our factory for processing. Similarly, we continue to work closely with our coffee farmers and spice growers, and extended our support to numerous farmers in Karnataka by sourcing substantial quantity of tomatoes from them through our suppliers to ensure there is no distress.

At Nestlé India, the safety, well-being and security of our people will remain paramount in our minds. Each of us has had to embrace new and different ways of working in terms of “work from home” and has been subject to stresses, fears and anxieties never experienced before. We are sensitive to the human and emotional needs of our employees and have rolled out numerous ‘virtual’ engagement programmes, training programmes, mental health initiatives, ‘check-in’ programmes with youngsters who live alone or far from home, and free advisory calls with accredited doctors in India and abroad on queries pertaining to Covid-19.

Suresh Narayanan is chairman & managing director, Nestlé India