Since young, my Ah Ma (grandmother) never fails to remind me about how fortunate the people of our generation are today. Back in the old days, milk was hard to come by, unlike us today when we can have milk ready for us in a carton. Even if they have fresh supply of raw milk then, people would be hesitant to drink as it could pose health risks.
When Milkmaid first entered the Singapore market in 1912, it hoped to change consumers’ perception and gain their trust by ensuring the quality of its’ product. Milkmaid’s advertisements dated back then were seen to bear the Royal Warrants of Appointment. These warrants were issued as proof to show that it supplied products to the royal family. It provided credibility to consumers that Milkmaid is a prestigious brand of high quality.
Milkmaid is positioned as the best amongst its competitors. The phrases “Largest sales in the world” and “Milkmaid Milk is THE BEST” were commonly found in its advertisements to communicate quality and popularity of the brand. Ah Ma once told me that back in those days even the government hospitals were serving Milkmaid to their patients and this helped to further boost consumers’ confidence.
During those days, people were less fortunate and did not have enough money for education. Most of the locals were illiterate. I learned from Ah Ma that back then, the words on the Milkmaid tin that says “Prepared for Export” was printed in red and many of them used this as a mark of identification for the brand. The brand was popularly known as “红字牛奶”or “ang-ji-gu-ni”, which also meant “the milk with red words” in Hokkien. Very soon, Milkmaid started adapting to the local culture by incorporating the Chinese characters, 红字, in its advertisements and labels so that the brand stays connected to consumers. To date, the very same Chinese characters, 红字, in red are still being seen on the Milkmaid labels.
“红字牛奶“was a main source of food for babies and children in the 1940s. Life was hard in Singapore then. There were high unemployment rate and severe food shortage. It was common to see families mixing Milkmaid Condensed Milk with water to feed their babies and children as they were too poor to purchase powdered milk.
Milkmaid has indeed come a long way since its humble beginning. It has always kept its promise in sight and stayed true to its brand by emphasizing on providing the best quality product to consumers. It was successful in being relevant to consumers over the different periods of time in Singapore history.
Written by Samantha Chua, Joleen Lee, Wayne Lim, Russell Ng, NurAzimah and Darren Tay from Diploma in Marketing @ Temasek Polytechnic School of Business in 2015.
(Special thanks to Nestlé Singapore, in conjunction with 100 Years Nestle with You campaign.)