In millions of homes frosted glass jars with blue caps sit perched on kitchen shelves. These are Horlicks bottles – the ubiquitous health drink since the 1930s – now serving the purpose of kitchen containers. In their original avatar, the bottles contained Horlicks, a spoon of which stirred in a glass of hot milk or water was the great nourisher. The basics have not changed since; except Horlicks is now an extended family of health drinks reaching out to more people, under more circumstances and using enhanced formulations. Before Operation Flood, India was a perennially milk shortage land. It was from brands like Horlicks that people received the nourishment that milk would have otherwise provided. Today, the malted milk market is estimated at Rs. 1070 crore (US$ 211.90 million) serving the nutrition and energy supplement needs of children and adults alike. With the impact Operation Flood has had the market for Milk Food Drinks (MFD) should have actually declined. But Horlicks – and several other brands in this space – has been able to re-invent itself and create positioning strategies in sync with
consumer needs. It has, for instance, created new segments aimed at specific consumers: Mothers Horlicks is targeted specifically at pregnant and lactating women; Junior Horlicks has been especially formulated for little children; Woman's Horlicks is for the contemporary woman with a proposition of blood and bone health; Horlicks Lite is for the 40+ adult promising strength and stamina and the base brand Horlicks now has a clinically-backed claim of making kids taller, stronger and sharper. Not only has this strategy grown the market and brought new users into its fold, it has actually rolled back the effects of increased milk supply and competition from other health food brands. Horlicks' success has also been in great measure due to the continuous market track it does. It was possibly the first brand to discern that consumers were veering towards products that could deliver on the promise of health without compromising on taste. This explains the wide range of flavours Horlicks now offers and why despite increased competition it continues to be the brand-of-choice for millions of people.
Left to themselves most brands would die a natural death. It is the ability of a brand to reinvent itself that keeps it youthful and in tune with market needs. Horlicks has done a remarkable job of catering to evolving requirements – and, where necessary, pointing
entire markets in directions they hadn't thought of. If Horlicks, today, enjoys the trust of many generations of Indian mothers it is in great measure due to this ability. Along its extensive journey Horlicks has been subjected to several changes. In 1998, Horlicks was fortified with Smart Nutrients – a unique combination of vitamins and minerals – intended to imbibe growing children with mental agility and physical fitness. Junior Horlicks was re-launched with extra nutrients to build the immunity of little children. Today, this subbrand contributes a stunning 11% to Horlicks' total sales and has been one of the fastest growing product extensions to the Horlicks brand. In growing from children to adolescence, kids take a giant leap. The metabolic activity promotes dramatic changes. Solutions that worked at one stage are no longer relevant later. To better understand this natural phenomenon, Horlicks undertook a large-scale clinical trial lasting fourteen months to develop and deliver a rational consumer claim. The claim of taller, stronger and sharper emerged from this study and has since become the bedrock of the base brands' communications strategy. As a corollary, to various other research initiatives impacting the product offering, Horlicks has introduced a slew of sub-brands, flavour options and packaging alternatives. Its 5-in-1 pack for the variety-seeking child is a fine example of the nutritional halo and the livewire spirit of Horlicks....