Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Brand Update : Horlicks

I was shocked to see an ad in todays newspaper announcing the launch of a noodles brand by Horlicks. I was wondering how can a company like GSK mess up a power brand like Horlicksby launching a totally unrelated extension ?

Horlicks has launched a new extension in the noodles category . The extension has the brand name Foodles and is endorsed by Horlicks. Foodles is positioned as a healthy noodles. The brand has launched two variants of noodles. - Regular and Multi-grain The main USP of Foodles is the " Health Maker" sachet which comes along with the noodles pack. The health maker sachet contains the essentials of 5 vitamins.

Frankly , this is one brand extension which I cannot understand.Theoretically Foodles by Horlicks cannot be termed as a brand extension. In this case Foodles is the main brand and Horlicks is the endorser brand. But for all practical purposes, Foodles is going to impact Horlicks just like any other brand extension.

Horlicks off late has been on a extension spree. It recently launched the Nutribar snack bar with an aim of transforming Horlicks in to an umbrella brand for launching health related food products.

My first contact with Foodles happened last week when my wife tried to trick me with Foodles instead of Maggi. I hated the taste of it and wondered whether Maggi changed the taste of its noodles again. It is only then my wife revealed that she tried to make me eat " healthy " noodles.

What can be the possible logic behind Horlicks trying its hand into launching a noodles brand ?

One reason or argument can be that Horlicks is only an endorser brand . Once the brand is accepted in the market, Foodles can remain as a standalone brand.

If that is the logic, then has the marketers thought about the brand equity dilution of parent brand? Horlicks in no way can be associated with noodles category. Noodles is perceived to be unhealthy , junk food and by associating with this category, Horlicks is definitely going to dilute its core positioning of a health drink.

Secondly, why should a multinational giant like GSK launch a brand with an endorsement from its power brand ? What is restricting the company from launching a new standalone brand ? Only reason seems to be the lack of confidence of the marketer or the search of a short cut to market acceptance.

Has the company thought of the impact of Horlicks if Foodles fail ? If Foodles succeed, does it add value to Horlicks brand or will it dilute the core proposition of a health drink ?
What is Horlicks now - a health drink for kids, health drink for adults, health drink for women, a snack brand, a biscuit brand and a noodles brand .... where is the connection.

Foodles is not going to revolutionize noodles market in India. All the noodles brands are now on the health plank and having a vitamin sachet is not going to do big things for Foodles.

Earlier, my students used to ask me about my favorite brand and I would tell them it is Horlicks because of the focus and smart marketing moves. Now I would say that Horlicks 'used' to be my favorite brand.


  1. they will face trademark issues.
    foodles is a disney brand of snacks for kids

  2. what is new?? nothing... every one is talking abt health... first mover advantage is lost...
    packaging is not good... i went to shop and i saw this foodles.. its not comparable with top ramen,maggi and other competitiors...

  3. I totally agree Mr.Harish being a well established and set a brand image among millions of consumers, think it will create a negative impact to Horlicks and I really don't understand why Foodles want camouflage themselves under Horlicks brand is it due to tough competition from Maggie? btw thanks for the blog..

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  5. Great you could taste Foodles. I stay in Hyderabad, and in today's newspaper, I saw the advt for Foodles.
    I enquired at about 10 shops in the neighbourhood , no luck, no shop was stocking it. 5 shops did not hear it, the other 5 shops it seems, refused to stock it, as there are issued with stock replacement. It seems GSK charges 20% as replacement cost, so no shopkeeper was interested in stocking Foodles.

    With great expectations, went to Spencers Hypermarket-Golkonda X Roads, Hyderabad, the biggest Spencers Outlet in India. There too no luck !!!!!!!!!!

  6. Anonymous10:53 AM

    It tastes good and yummy i like it


  7. How can the failure of one sub brand (read Foodles) affect a brand like Horlicks? Its impossible. When a housemaker goes to buy a horlicks milk powder, she would never hesitate to buy it only because a snack bar under its name dint taste good. She has been buying it for more than a decade and she will continue buying.

  8. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Hi Harish,
    I much more prefer Smith and Jones Masala Noodles as well their Curry noodles. i think Smith and Jones has definitely made a big dent in the category. love their advertising also :)

    Sunil Shinde

  9. Hello Sir, While I completely agree with you on dilution of Horlicks' brand equity with the bad taste, and that is gonna passed around as negative word of mouth. I do agree that there is no connection between a snack, a biscuit , a health drink and noodles . But I see a trend here, Horlicks is launching products like a snack or a biscuit or noodles which are perceived to be junk food , and bring them under the umbrella brand of Horlicks which has taken the position of being 'healthy' in the minds of an average Home maker in India. With this the product is made dearer to the mother as well as her kids, who would have otherwise had to persuade hard to consume product like noodles often. So the connection that the marketers are looking for here is not between a snack or a health drink or biscuit but between junk food and now a healthy biscuit or a healthy snack or healthy noodles. Thank you.

  10. Anonymous6:11 PM

    i am fair game with all of us having instant noodles as snacks even 4-5 times a week. i think it doesn't do any harm. my problem is maggi and horlicks claiming their instant noodles to be healthy. i think it is a white lie. any instant noodles is fried. any other country and those cos would have been sued out of business.
    Finally people eat instant noodles for a snack and snack is first and last about Taste and nothing but taste. anything else is a very small incremental add.

  11. I tried Foodles yesterday. I am neither a Horlicks person nor a Maggi person. I am with Complan, and it tastes better than Horlicks (at least to me). Regarding Foodles, Maggi, etc. we have always felt nothing can beat the taste of Top Ramen Smoodles and after tasting Foodles that view is confirmed. Once you eat Top Ramen Smoodles once, you will never go back to Maggi.

  12. @ Mohan.. yes boss , taste rules
    @ Jason @ Ramanan, there is going to be lot of trial purchase by consumers of foodles. But my worry is about the dilution of the core Horlicks brand which is a health drink brand. there is a limit to stretching the brand equity...

  13. You are right regarding choice of taste, "De gustibus non est disputandum"... Horlicks is asssociated with category "health drink". I was bit confused first as to why Horlicks is venturing into noodles segment (seen as junk food or fast food). if Maggi forays into Atta Noodles, it makes sense, since Maggi is already in Food&Beverage Sub-strata business (incl ketchups). Both unrelated areas apart from the fact that the only common connection is that both are F&B edible/eatables.

  14. Can anyone highlight what is idea behind launching foodles when there was Maggi well established as brand and its tastes is acceptable to indian consumers .

  15. Anonymous12:24 AM

    what if horlicks launches with foodie free ,yet nobody would like to have this ,the taste of foodie is not even 3/4th of maggie ,at any cost i will not purchase foodie and will reject this.

  16. Anonymous10:40 PM

    Positioning, branding, targetting and all may have been good.

    But the whole stance is misleading. After hearing so much about it, I picked up a pack and checked the ingredients this evening, and was shocked- it shows "hydrolyzed vegetable protein" which is one of the lesser known names of aginomoto or MSG. The same MSG for which maggi was lead to a dance in the market over. Incidentally the other lesser known names of MSG are- Accent, Natural Meat tenderiser.

    MSG/Aginomoto triples the amount of insulin the body produces causing obesity- a complete no-no for this generation of kids who are anyways burdened with too much work studies, hobbies and lesser time for run and play.

    Please do inform customers of this also. Agreed, the multigrain bit is good, but the concept of instantnoodles in itself is unhealthy, let alone a brand promoting its product with MSG in it saying "its healthier...".


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