Hey Nestlé! Thank you for giving us 2-minute Maggie noodles. Eatable anytime, anywhere. For Kit-Kat, 5-Stars and Milky bars for making our chocolate day amazing.
Henri Nestlé is the man behind the brand Nestlé that survived WWI/II, expanded (and diversified) and proved to be one of the giants in the food and beverages category.
Practically speaking, most of the products from Nestlé has their own history and together they carry the legacy of Nestlé. In 2016, Nestlé celebrated its 150th anniversary.
Let’s flip the pages of history and take a deep dive into the Nestlé brand story.
From Swiss Condensed Milk in 1866 to Selling Chocolates in India by 1912 – Nestlé:
In 1866 Anglo-Swiss Condensed milk company Milkmaid launched condensed milk an as alternative to fresh milk. Henri Nestlé developed another breakthrough infant food and launched in Vevey, Switzerland.
By 1875, Nestlé expanded in countries like Indonesia, Argentina. Egypt & US that once limited to Vevey, Switzerland.
The company gained momentum in 1882 when George Page (of Anglo-Swiss Company) passed away and the company had to slow down its expansion plan. They sold their US-based operations that gave Nestlé a room to foray the market.
Till 1905 they grew in their respective areas and it was this year when the company merged with Henri Nestlé and renamed the brand as Nestlé Milkmaid.
From this year onwards Nestlé went on a never-ending expedition to become the world’s most preferred food and beverage brand.
Nestlé’s first logo was based upon his family’s coat of arms in 1868. The logo which we see now is a bird’s nest, and practically, Nestlé’s meaning in German is a nest. Nestlé brand story seems to be incomplete if we don’t throw light on their logo transition.
WWI Nestlé & Coming Out of It:
Though Switzerland didn’t take part in the fighting, its economy was severely affected by Germany which caused a shortage of energy consumption.
It became difficult for Nestlé to find goods for production and distribution also became a problem as the entire continent was at war.
During WWI (1914/18) Nestlé almost sold all of its suppliers in order to raise a helping hand to support the basic needs of nearby towns and villages. It was sheer luck that 2 years before the war, Nestlé entered India.
Nestlé knew how to cope-up during the difficult times when almost every brand/company and business slowed down (& many had to shut their business). When the war was over, Nestlé was operational in 40 factories globally.
Later (in 2010) WWI played a major role in building the Nestlé brand story.
Post War Proved to Be Expansion Time for Nestlé:
Nestlé was 1 brand (out of 100 others during that time) which felt the force of economic crash in the 1920s.
But the company didn’t lose its chill and went ahead to acquire Calliet (a beverages company Peter & Kohler Swiss Company (famous for its chocolates) in the mid-1920s. Chocolate became a central focus for the company.
Much of the time between 1920-1930 was spent in coping up with economic downturns and to remain stable.
In 1934, Nestlé’s Milo & Pelargon (a full milk powder for babies with lactic acid bacteria for improved digestion) was launched in Australia.
Management of Nestlé shifted to the US and there they worked tirelessly to maintain the business they had in Europe & the rest of the world.
Everything was going smoothly and the company (and economy) was recovering but only to face another shockwave WWII!
WWII – Nestlé’s Time to Testify Their Existence and Vision:
Just like steel becomes strong when forged in fire, Nestlé had already witnessed a global war and survived. Now it knew how to withstand another blow from the world.
Innovation didn’t stop during this time (1939-1945). In 1940, Nestea was released but the same was launched in America in 1948.
It might sound weird, but after the US entering the war, Nestlé actually gained popularity. This was a time when the company realized that popularity can come from negative effects as well, but if one maintains a calm attitude, instead of backfiring it will be a competitive advantage.
By the time WWII came to an end, Nestlé produced CARE aid supplies to Japan and Europe. Another great move to gain worldwide recognition (from common people as well as from authorities running nations).
After Effects of WWII:
Nestlé merged with Alimentana and rolled out Maggi soups. Maggi was founded during the same time when Nestlé was also struggling (1872) by Julius Maggi. With Nestlé, in most parts of Asia Maggi was synonymous with instant noodles.
In 1954, Nestlé launched infant cereal Cerelac and 2 years later canned Rivoli was launched under the Maggi brand.
Nestlé’s ability to sense a trend dates back to the 1960s. They were one of the earliest companies to realize that an increasing number of households were buying freezers, due to which frozen products/ice-creams will be the next big thing.
Thinking Outside the Box – Nestlé!
To take full advantage of the situation, Nestlé buys German producer Joppa & French manufacturer Heudebert-Gervais to boost their growth in the frozen foods sector. The brand also added companies like Frisco (in 1962) and the UK based canned foods company, Crosse & Blackwell.
To expand overseas, the company brought the Findus Frozen Foods brand from Swedish manufacturer Marabou in 1962. Then in 1968, the company brought French yogurt producer – Chambourcy.
After setting a strong foothold in frozen foods company, in 1969 the company enters in mineral water segment by buying stakes in the French water bottle brand – Vittel.
The vision of Nestlé also expanded when the brand decided to step outside their comfort zone (food and beverages category) and try their luck in a whole new industry. The company brought half of the stakes in the company L’Oréal.
Nestlé brought stakes of Liliane Bettencourt and offered her a 3% stake in Nestlé. Together with Nestlé & Battencourt’s family-owned 60% of L’Oréal’s services globally.
Nestlé continued its expansion and diversification plan and took over Alcon Labs (American pharma company) to enter the pharmaceutical market. Alcon Labs had a strong presence and was operational in 75 countries with its products rolling out in more than 185 countries.
In 1981, Nestlé & L’Oréal together established Golderma – A Joint Venture active in dermatology. With growing sales, popularity and brand value Nestlé had enough money for (more) diversification and acquisitions.
In 1985 Nestlé acquired US-based Carnation Company for a whopping $3 billion deal. By this time Nestlé started entering the coffee segment and acquired brands like Carnation, Coffee-Mate. Nespresso was designed as high-end luxury coffee and today it’s known as premium one in the category.
Nespresso was also featured in George Clooney’s advertisement. Even today, Nespresso has agreements with Ritz Carlton & Shangri-La Hotels.
Not to forget, Nestlé also acquired Friskies to enter the pet-food industry (Only India’s pet-food market is valued at $334.3 million).
It was in 1988 when Nestlé’s portfolio was brightened by Kit-Kat chocolates, After Eight & smarties. Nestlé brought UK confectionery company, Rowntree Mackintosh.
Nestlé took full advantage after the fall of the European wall in 1989 and expanded in countries like Polland, Hungary & Czech- Republic.
In 1991, Nestlé establishes a joint venture between General Mills, central Partners Worldwide to produce breakfast products and cereals worldwide. The company also went into a joint venture with Coca-Cola to form a beverage partner worldwide, Nestea manufacturing and marketing were taken care of by this joint venture.
Before Nestlé enters the 2000 era, they brought Italian mineral water brand Sanpellegrino Group. Nestlé Pure Life was launched to guarantee clean and healthy drinking water in Europe 2 years later.
Nestlé in the Era of 2000:
2000 era plays an important role in the Nestlé brand story. That’s the time when Nestlé started becoming a favorite brand of consumers.
While the pre-90s and mid-90s time were spent in diversification and expansion, Nestlé entered the 2000 era with a strong brand personality, variety of product offerings that assure quality and better lifestyle.
A major move in 2000 was rolling out of Sustainable Agricultural Initiative Nestlé (SAIN) to collaborate with farmers aiming to improve their lifestyle and uplift their standard of living. By this initiative, Nestlé made sure an undisturbed supply of raw-materials coming from the farmers for their on-going production.
In 2002 the company took pace by acquiring 2 big companies, Dryer’s ice-cream in July and next month Chief America Inc. for a $2.6 billion deal.
In 2006, the company took over the management of Jenny Craig & Australian breakfast cereals company Uncle Toby’s.
Moving towards the end of the decade, Nestlé acquired another infant food manufacturing company, Gerber, for a $5.5billion deal in 2007.
Entering 2010, the brand also acquired Kraft Foods a frozen pizza brand. Along with Coca-Cola and Nestlé together launched a sustainable supply chain in Cocoa coffee.
Nestlé owns around 2000 brands that are selling in more than 197 countries around the world.
A company that started merely as an infant food product then got merged with a condensed milk company and together they faced (and survived) WWI/II. An amazing journey there.
No doubt the Nestlé brand story deserves all the respect and cheers! After all, a 150+-year-old brand (and still counting) is now deeply settled in our subconscious mind. Generations after generations we keep passing and recommending it to our younger ones.
Mind-boggling facts about Nestlé:
Nestlé’s brand story is incomplete if we don’t highlight its facts. Here they are:
- Nestlé has more than 308000 employees globally. (2008-2018)
- Nestlé’s superstar products are powered and liquid beverages. Next, the most popular product category is Milk products and ice creams.
- Most of its employees live in Asia, Oceania & Africa. 39.1% are based out of these 3 areas.
- It’s the world’s largest (and probably the oldest) food company.
- Nescafe used to be the US military’s staple drink during WWII
- 29 brands from Nestlé have annual sales of over $1 billion. Nespresso, Kit-Kat, and Nesquik account for more than $1 billion in sales annually.
In business studies, we have been taught that a company has a perpetual existence. This means that a company goes on and on even if its shareholders, management, and leaders change. But the company needs to go on till the time it can’t carry the business anymore (for whatever reason)
Nestlé is the perfect example of a company having a perpetual existence. Not only this, it’s one of the brands that has been a warrior, survivor and it just goes higher and higher!
We hope you enjoying flipping Nestlé’s pages of history because we loved covering Nestlé brand story. Which story would you recommend us to cover the next time?