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.