Royco reverts to Mchuzi Mix after rebranding nightmare

By Dominic Omondi | Published Tue, May 16th 2017 at 10:23, Updated May 16th 2017 at 10:26 GMT +3

Unilever Kenya has reverted back to the old food seasoner, Royco Mchuzi Mix, a few months after rebranding into Royco Sundried Mchuzi Mix.

A source close to the decision says after eight months, the new-look Royco had not performed to the expectations of the company, forcing Unilever to make the U-turn, in a classic case of a rebranding gone awry.

Unilever Kenya re-launched Royco Mchuzi Mix in October 2016, hoping to meet increased demand for natural food flavourings such as sundried herbs and spices.

The new-look Royco had such natural ingredients as coriander, garlic,

fennel, methee, cumin, turmeric and paprika.

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The move was hailed by Unilever Kenya Marketing Director Agnes Kitololo as the company tapped into Africa’s consumer markets which required companies to cater to the needs of a more confident, ambitious and knowledgeable consumer.

“Today, our insights show that consumers are more conscious of healthy eating, than past generations. They are also more interested in finding food adventures - food that delivers a new flavour or new take on healthy indulgences,” noted Ms Kitololo.

But last week, the company announced that it had re-introduced the brand, Original Royco Mchuzi Mix, giving credence to the proverbial saying old is gold.

Market leaders

The company said it was responding to consumer needs and demand for the original product.

“We have always said that our consumers are the heart of our business and we aim to satisfy their needs above all else. Our prioritisation of their needs is what has enabled us to remain market leaders for so long.

“Our consumers have told us that while they like and appreciate Royco Sundried, they miss the Royco Original Mchuzi mix that they have grown to know and loved for many years,” said Kitolo.

“To this end and in order to ensure we cater to all our consumers’ preferences, we are re-introducing the Original variant of Royco to co-exist in the market with Royco Sundried so our consumers can now have their choice.”

It is normal for a company to rebrand, only for it to revert back. This publication, is a good example.

After running for long as Financial Standard into transformed Financial Journal, The Weekly Business, Business Beat and once again back to Financial Standard.

And examples abound of rebranding cases that have gone wrong. One of them is the rebranding of Coca-Cola in what is commonly referred to as the “marketing blunder of the century” (the 20th century, that is), reports Business Insider.

“Coca-Cola tried to replace Coca-Cola Classic with a New Coke in April of 1985. At the time, Coke had been hurt by the Pepsi Challenge and thought it would be smart to reformulate for better taste. They thought wrong. Consumers went crazy.

Phil Mooney, archivist for the Coca Cola Company, says there were protests led by the Society for the Preservation of the Real Thing and Old Cola Drinkers of America.

One man in San Antonio even drove to a local bottler and bought $1,000 (Sh100,000) worth of Coca-Cola Classic to stockpile.

The Company returned to their classic formula, and original branding, in July 1985,” said Business Weekly on an article on rebranding projects that went wrong.