The Rise and Fall of Mayos: A Cautionary Tale of Nepalese Instant Noodles
In 2008, the Nepalese instant noodle market was dominated by two key players, Wai Wai, and Mayos, with Wai Wai holding a commanding 80% market share. Mayos, produced by Himalayas Snax and Noodles (p) Ltd under the Khetan Group, was the only brand with the potential to challenge Wai Wai’s supremacy. However, despite its initial success, Mayos met its untimely demise, leaving many to wonder, “What went wrong?”
Mayos’ rise to prominence was fueled by the marketing efforts of two individuals, Mr. Deependra Tondon and Mr. Subu Shrestha. At a time when digital marketing was still a novelty worldwide, Nepalese marketing relied heavily on traditional methods. Mr. Deependra and Mr. Subu recognized this gap and saw an opportunity to bring something new to the table. They embarked on a comprehensive marketing campaign, introducing Mayos to customers through newspapers and television advertisements. But their stroke of genius was the “Mayos Super Challenge,” a television quiz show where participants could win substantial cash prizes by finding a “golden coupon” inside a Mayos packet. This campaign garnered significant attention and revenue for Mayos, quickly propelling its market share to rival Wai Wai.
Further reinforcing their efforts, Mr. Deependra and Mr. Subu worked on enhancing the brand’s image, establishing the Mayos Scholarship Program, and implementing various monthly marketing initiatives. Their innovative approach allowed Mayos to capture the hearts of Nepalese consumers, cementing its position as a worthy competitor to the formidable Wai Wai.
However, the political landscape in Nepal began to shift in 2008, and unfortunate events set in motion a downward spiral for Mayos. In January of that year, the Mayos factory faced a prolonged strike by its workers, resulting in a significant production halt and financial losses. After resolving the workers’ demands, the factory remained shuttered for an extended period due to pressure from pro-union members. The prolonged closure further eroded Mayos’ market share, providing an opportunity for other instant noodle brands to gain ground.
In 2011, a disaster struck when a massive fire engulfed the Himalayan Snax and Noodles Private Limited (HSNPL) factory in Banepa, Kavre—the primary production facility for Mayos noodles. This incident led to a substantial reduction in Mayos’ production capacity, contributing to its financial troubles.
In an effort to bounce back, Mayos rebranded itself as a healthier alternative, using wheat flour instead of refined wheat flour and promoting the absence of MSG and Ajinomoto in their noodles. However, consumers were not swayed solely by health claims; taste remained a significant factor in their noodle preferences. Unfortunately for Mayos, the taste of their wheat flour-based noodles could not compete with those made from refined wheat flour, and their healthy noodle campaign failed to strike a chord with consumers.
To compound Mayos’ woes, in 2015, the government temporarily banned the sale of Mayos instant noodles due to the presence of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in their products, despite the “No added MSG” claims on their packets. Although the MSG content was less than 1%, the ban had a severe impact on Mayos’ already struggling position in the market.
Despite its meteoric rise to the top in just 15 years, Mayos faced an insurmountable series of challenges that eventually led to its downfall. The cautionary tale of Mayos serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining consistent quality, adaptability to changing market conditions, and an in-depth understanding of consumer preferences in a fiercely competitive industry like instant noodles. The Nepalese market has witnessed a dramatic rise and fall, leaving room for other players to learn from the journey of Mayos and strive for sustainable success in the ever-evolving business landscape.