Taller, stronger, sharper is the tagline of Horlicks – but the malted hot drinks category is weakening, losing focus and getting dwarfed by other segments.
Horlicks is GlaxoSmithKline’s flagship brand and contributes over 80 percent of the sales of GSK’s consumer nutrition vertical.
It was once the dominant brand in the Indian market and, hence, its relevance is restricted to the country.
Horlicks value cannot be stretched beyond the Indian subcontinent and the UK.
Malted food drinks were consumed heavily in India as a supplement but now specialized supplement health drinks have come up and hence the category has seen a fall.
Today consumers are becoming more interested in specialist products offering added protein, meal replacement or an energy boost. Furthermore, consumers who used to purchase these products for taste are shifting to other alternatives such as chocolate and vanilla syrups.
The shift in consumers’ preferences and tastes these days is because they are becoming more health conscious.
The reason this category has been facing challenges is because it has not seen a lot of action in terms of innovations, deepening penetration in rural regions or focus on lower-unit packs.
Currently, ITC Limited is planning to acquire Horlicks from GlaxoSmithKline if it is offered at a right price.
But even if the category has lost focus, India is still by far the leading consumer of malted hot beverages. According to global research firm Mintel, India accounted for 19 percent of all the malted hot beverages launched in 2017, which makes it the global leader.