Tinkering with successful products is ruinous

by Ashvini on February 17, 2012 · 6 comments

in Business

A noodle brand ,call it M is extremely popular in India. The ads of this brand for most of the times, show kids who are nagging their mothers because they are hungry. The mother then prepares and serves them hot noodles thus killing their hunger.

In my opinion, the biggest target market for M are mostly bachelors , who are staying in the college hostels . M’s relative ease of cooking makes it very popular with young bachelors who do not have time for elaborate preparation of Indian food.

I too have been a fan of M right from childhood. In my college days too, it served me faithfully whenever I was hungry.

However these days M does not tastes like it used to do. In an effort of become trendy, M has actually lost the share it commanded with bachelors (most of whom are probably married now) who still swear by the taste. Here are a few things that owner of M have done wrong.

  1. Reduced quantity per packet:Lesser quantity per packet does not quell hunger the way older one used. The person eating one packet of noodle may still be hungry. This is in contrast with the brand message that you can have a full stomach with its one serving .
  2. New taste of spice powder

    The “new” noodles do not taste like old ones. The cooking powder sachet has new content. The taste really does not satisfies the heart that much..

  3. Overextended

    These days, same product is available in multiple variants. I always remembered the product by its taste , thick noodles and packet color. It was consistent and there was no other product like it.

    Now I can see healthy noodles, grainy noodles , soups with the same name. But nowhere I can find that attracted me to it the first place.

  4. Not sufficient stock

    It is hard to find old M anywhere. I doubt even they make it any more. The new tinkered product with old name is there but then I don’t like it.

This to me is “brand-harakiri”. I am not a brand expert but as a consumer and buyer of the product I have a high stake in what I want the product to be. Sadly, I don’t think anyone is listening.

If your product is successful, do not start tinkering with it

If your product becomes successful , the first tendency is to make it perfect. This desire stems from market research about changing customer tastes. Loyal consumers do not change at all. They will stay the same rest of their lives . They probably want the same coffee taste forever( probably because they sipped the same coffee when they were in love with someone and it reminds them of those days).

Tinker with the taste of coffee and see the displeasure on the face of customer. Sure enough, it is a sign that old things(at least old buildings, coffees, noodles )  should remain as they are.

In other words, M, give me back my old noodles.

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{ 6 comments }

Ash February 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Change is a part of life u need to live with. Accept Change, accept new begining

Ashvini Kumar Saxena February 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Thank you Ash. But as they say ” The more things change , the more they remain the same”

Aswani February 20, 2012 at 8:58 am

Haha…very rightly said :D

Even I have the same feeling here. Why to tinker with each and everything?? Even I was crazy for this M. Used to gobble a lot during my schooldays but had to give up finally for health reasons. Also, as you have said…too much of tinkering is another major reason why I had to give up finally. It isn’t the same anymore as it was 5-10 years back. I think too much of experimentation has been done with the same which has gone negative with end consumers…isn’t it ? It is high time to consider points as explained by you and make it look more acceptable to end consumers..!

Ashvini Kumar Saxena February 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I never understood the reason why they changed the taste so much so as to alienate their old customers. I am not sure that they gained any new customer. In fact it caused their competitor to get in and make way for its product right in M’s Category. A deadly mistake, I would say :)

Robert February 17, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Hey Ashvini,

Sorry to hear that ‘X’ changed their noodles man!

This goes with the old saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

It was interesting what you said about the taste and texture reminding people of things. That’s very powerful and taps into people’s emotions and nostalgic feelings. For example, you might enjoy buying a certain cereal because you ate it as a kid. If the cereal company changes the product (even slightly), that will likely ruin your experience and stop you buying that product.

As Gary Vaynerchuk said recently, too many companies are focussed on acquiring new customers instead of retaining their existing customers.

I’m all for change, and I understand that products should change and markets change quickly, but companies should get customer feedback first. Look at Facebook, I recently heard that it’s only 8% through the changes it wants to make to it’s business model, so it looks like we’ll be seeing many more changes in the near future. (Sometimes it’s hard to say whether this is a good or a bad thing, but people generally seem to be resistant to change). There are definitely two strong arguments on this one.

Ashvini Kumar Saxena February 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Hey Robert,

I really missed the old taste. A few months back, I went to a resort. I loved the way it was situated between hills, with lesser number of rooms than any other resort. I loved the service.
I found that rooms had increased, service gone down and it seemed like a public park full of people. It was a stark contrast from the quieter place it was. It was disappointing because I had a lot of memories associated with it. The places I liked now was covered with rooms. I am planning to ditch it altogether.

People really don’t get the value of returning, loyal customer. All they want is new customers who are fickle and probably will not come back.

Thanks for your comment bro. Its great to see you here.

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