Whether young or old, white or brown, Horlicks or Bournvita – ‘health’ is the new catchphrase for every brand in the malted drinks market: Bonafide Research

Increasing health consciousness among consumers of different age categories, modern lifestyle, and brand trust is fueling the growth of the malted health drinks market in India, thus drawing more players into this segment and making malt-based drink brands run faster to stay at the same spot.
According to a recently published report of Bonafide Research “India Malted Health Drinks Market Overview”, the malted health drink market size is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 16% during the forecast period of 2016 to 2021. An increase in the standard of living, changing lifestyle, rising income levels, and growing inclination of consumers towards healthy beverages is making a positive impact on the Indian malted health drinks market. Various malted health drink brands like Horlicks, Bournvita, Complan, Boost, Milo, Amul Pro, etc. have high impetus in the Indian market.
For the last two years, Health food drink brands such as Horlicks and Bournvita have started targeting mothers during the exam season as it’s not only the students who are tensed, but also their parents. Malted food drinks usually have two stories to tell in a year. During most part of the year, they talk about the ‘body story’ (nutrition for a growing child), and before exams, they are clever enough to talk about the ‘mind story’ (nutrition for the mind). In both cases, mothers are the targets. Horlicks, which is sold by the consumer arm of British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has designed a national workshop to help parents & teachers understand the competition and students better. In 20145, the brand had developed four original soundtracks on exams with the help of budding musicians across India, so that kids face exams more confidently. They have been made into videos and are being promoted on social channels.
While market leader Horlicks is playing up the insecurity of mothers about their children’s concentration through its marketing initiatives, rival Bournvita, marketed by Mondelez India Foods, is focusing on discipline and guidance. GSK has also designed a Concentration App that helps parents gauge the concentration levels of their child. Exam month’s help Horlicks gain around 1% of the volume share and is considered a significant spike by market watchers, given the fact that the category has been badly affected by low consumer spending lately and growth has remained stagnant. Bournvita also gains share in terms of volumes during exam season. The January to March period does see an increase in overall malted food drinks consumption. In 2015, Bournvita had strong trade activations coupled with a TVC in February and consumer promotion in March. Their TVC under the campaign theme ‘Tayyari Jeet Ki’ talks about a tough world out there and that parents need to prepare their children to make healthy choices in their life, for which discipline and guidance are as important as nutrition.
To cut through the clutter, brands are increasingly becoming careful about their core positioning. Bournvita chose to target the grandparent, often the daytime caretaker of children with working parents, in its ad. Danone smartly reverses the roles; a teenage girl admonishes her parents for not ensuring enough protein in her meals and asks them to stop giving her ‘bachhowala (kids’) drink’. GSK’s enhanced focus on Horlicks in India comes at a time when it is considering selling the business in the United Kingdom. The company is planning to sell its small Horlicks business in Britain but will retain the much larger operation in India, where the nutritional brand is still growing strongly.
In 2016, Heinz India entered the malt drink category with a product called Heinz Power Sprouts and the company now has a multi-brand strategy addressing different consumers. The impact of Patanjali made MNCs such as Heinz India include ingredients like ragi and sprouts in its malted drinks, which is all about having an ethnic type of nutrition. In 2015, Kraft and Heinz merged into Kraft Heinz Company, the third-largest food, and beverage company in North America and the fifth-largest in the world. In early 2017, Nestle brought back its health drink Milo, which it had discontinued about a decade ago.
Another player, Danone India expanded its portfolio in 2017 by launching ‘Protinex Grow’ in the domestic market, with an aim to garner up to 10% market share in the health food drinks segment by 2020. The French nutrition and dairy major has introduced Protinex Grow in West Bengal and Karnataka in the first phase. Danone plans to extend the portfolio by launching 10 more products in India. The company has aggressive plans to double its sales in the nutrition portfolio by the year 2020 and also grow the overall business in India. Moreover, Danone recently launched its global infant formula brand Aptamil in the country. The company would soon introduce Neocate and a range of products for IEM (inborn error of metabolism). Neocate is infant formula and is for the children who have severe allergy from cow milk. IEM is a rare genetic (inherited) disorder, in which the body cannot properly turn food into energy. Besides this, Danone is also working on the fortification of UHT milk.
Some time ago, companies like yoga-guru Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved Limited also pushed its health drink powder Powervita and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar launched Ojasvita in the health food drink segment. It was a good strategy to launch ready-to-drink formats and low sugar products as the powder format is already very competitive and hardly seeing volume growth.
Horlicks has been the market leader for years, positioning itself around the planks of nostalgia and nutrition. But with competition from old hands such as Nestle and relatively new entrants into the market such as Danone, GSK Consumer Healthcare is revamping the brand’s communication strategy. Recently in June-July 2017, the company appointed a new ad agency FCB India for Horlicks, moving away from its long-time partner JWT India. Also, GSK has extended its Horlicks brand family through the introduction of Horlicks Lite and Women’s Horlicks which are based on functional benefits for diabetics and pregnant women.
Mondelez-owned brand Cadbury Bournvita is focusing on how a combination of vitamin D, vitamin C, iron, and other vitamins and minerals enhances the nutritional power of milk for growing children. India is among the fastest-growing markets for malted health drinks, but prosperity is a mixed blessing of brands that control this category in India. While increasing health consciousness among consumers is fueling growth, it is also drawing more players into its fold, thus making malt-based drink labels run faster to stay at the same spot. Companies such as Nestle, GSK, Mondelez, and others are casting their net wider for customers, introducing new products, and rebooting communication strategies.
Major companies operating in the malted health drinks market of India are Mondelez India Foods Private Limited, Heinz India Private Limited, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Limited, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (AMUL), MTR Foods Private Limited, Nestle India Limited, Continental Milkose India Limited and Twinings Private Limited.

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