Despite being largely associated with the young, the malt based beverage has more variants targeted at adults. With the launch of Active Horlicks, the adult to young ratio of Horlicks' beverage sub-brands now stands at 6:3. While Horlicks and Junior Horlicks are for children; Mother’s Horlicks, Lite Horlicks, Women’s Horlicks, Horlicks Protein+ and Active Horlicks are aimed at adults.
GSK Consumer Healthcare has recently introduced Active Horlicks, extending the Horlicks portfolio by another sub brand. Active Horlicks is targeted at adults and is available at a price point of Rs 222 for 500 gm. A press note issued by the brand mentions that children’s Health Food Drinks (HFDs) are popular among adults as there are limited options available for this consumer segment. As per the release, while there are limited options, the ones that are available are twice as expensive. The note mentions that the launch is an extension of brand Horlicks into the adult consumer segment.
Horlicks has its roots in England. The brown malt based powder used to be imported from England and later bottled and sold in India till 1955. Horlicks' quest for setting up a plant in India resulted in Hindustan Milkfood Manufacturers, a company promoted by Horlicks, which was set up in 1958.
With a presence that long in the country, the hot beverage brand's diversification started in the mid '90s. But the extension of Horlicks into the adult consumer segment isn't new and GSK has tried it on multiple accounts in the past, starting in the late '90s.
Apart from extending the Horlicks brand to other categories like biscuits, nutri bars and ready-to-cook food, the beverage offering itself has undergone changes. The Horlicks beverage's original positioning as 'the great nourisher' of the family was split into multiple facets over the years – customised Horlicks drinks for various consumer segments.
Junior Horlicks was launched in India in 1995, targeting children between two and six. It was introduced in two variants or stages - Stage One for toddlers (for brain development and weight gain) and Stage Two for active nursery going children (for height gain and immunity), priced at Rs 270 for 500 gm.
GSK launched Mother’s Horlicks in 1997, targeting pregnant and lactating women. It was launched with a proposition of having micronutrients known to improve birth weight of the baby and later improving the quality of breast milk and was priced at Rs 500 for 450 gm.
Lite Horlicks was launched in 2005, targeting adults with the propositions of 'no added sugar and no fats', 'high quality protein and antioxidants', and being suitable for people with diabetes. It was priced at Rs 290 for 450 gm.
In 2008, GSK introduced Women’s Horlicks for women (19-50 year olds) in India with the proposition of helping maintain bone health with Calcium and Vitamin D. This variant was priced at Rs 295 for 400 gm.
Horlicks Gold was launched in 2011 as “Best Ever Horlicks- Horlicks Gold.” It was targeted at ‘kids’ with key Horlicks propositions like ‘nutrients rich’ and Taller, Stronger and Sharper.
Horlicks Protein+ was introduced in early 2018 as a protein based supplement for 'active adult professionals' aged above 30 years. The brand had also announced Bollywood actor R Madhavan as the brand ambassador. The sub brand was introduced with inclusions like (whey, soy and casein) for healthy muscles, strength and energy and was priced at Rs 495 for 400 gm.
Apart from Protein Plus, Horlicks’ ‘plus’ range also includes Horlicks Cardia Plus (launched for adults with a proposition of cardio vascular health) and Horlicks Growth Plus (aimed at children specifically for a balanced height and weight growth). Cardia Plus sells for Rs 670 for 400gms and Growth Plus sells for Rs 520 for 400gms.
The original Horlicks became 'Horlicks for kids' and still rides on the long standing proposition of "Taller, Stronger, Sharper", priced at Rs 222 for 500 gm.
So, with a Horlicks for nearly all age groups, why launch another Horlicks for adults? The answer lies in the ad film for the new launch. The characters in the new ad are worlds apart from the swanky gym-goer professional as depicted in the ads for Horlicks Protein+ (featuring R Madhavan). The ad features clerks instead of celebs and with a price point of Rs 222/500 gm which is lowest of all Horlicks variants and less than half of the 'Plus' range, Active Horlicks could be aiming for a much wider adult TG.
While Horlicks' extensions have been discontinued and relaunched over the years, the brand now addresses many TGs. FMCG major HUL is currently in the process of taking over Horlicks from GSK.
Brand and consumer expert Sita Lakshmi Narayan Swamy (former Rediffusion Y&R, UTV Media, Zee, JWT) says, "With the launch of Active Horlicks, the brand is clearly attempting to increase its penetration to those sections of the audience as yet uninitiated into fitness regimens (unlike the protein plus audience) and therefore health drinks. The goal seems to be to widen the net across the middle class/blue collared workers across different geographies (including upcountry India), positioning this variant as an 'aam aadmi's energy drink'."
"It could perhaps also be attributed to HUL'S experience and expertise in taking a powerful brand equity, and leveraging it by launching brand extensions/variants, for hitherto unaddressed sections of the audience, without damaging the brand's core essence," Swamy adds.
"‘Subah Piyo , Active Jiyo’ is the promise from the new offering from the Horlicks brand family for adults. It promises a ‘new way, to be active all day’. Adults do land up getting tired and fatigue grips them by mid-day. It is like mid-life crisis, it is mid-day crisis. Low energy levels, loss of stamina and fatigue setting in, are routine experiences for working adults. Active Horlicks brings hope and a solution for adults. It is well positioned in a sharp manner. The ad is focused on working adults at the workplace. The ad brings out active energy, in a ‘blatant’ manner and not a ‘latent’ manner. This is effective. The fibre and energy elements are cleanly brought out. The ad may not get ‘awards’ but will definitely get sales 'rewards'," says Jagdeep Kapoor, founder chairman and managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants.