Its tagline might be “taller, stronger, sharper” but Horlicks has not been sharper when it comes to expansion nor has it been able to grow taller or stronger. In fact, finding Horlicks’ Foodles or Horlicks biscuits in Mumbai is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Retailers say that the distribution has virtually stopped and the products themselves don’t find many takers.
Horlicks entered the noodles category in late 2009, before the likes of HUL and ITC. However, despite its early mover advantage and positioning as a healthy alternative to other noodle brands, Foodles has less than 1% market share in the segment. Even in CY15, when others like ITC’s Sunfeast Yippee made hay following the ban on market leader Maggi, Foodles’ market share barely inched up.
Yippee, meanwhile, grew its market share from 10.78% as on December 2014 to 28.5% as on December 2015, as per market research firm Euromonitor. “Since Horlicks has not invested enough in building brand awareness, it still isn’t the second option. ITC though did pick up some market share during the Maggi ban,” says Harminder Sahni, founder and managing director, Wazir Advisors.
While brand awareness is an issue, the major problem with the company’s Foodles foray is that it is at a tangent to the brand’s core positioning. Naimish Dave, director, OC&C Strategy Consultants says, “Foodles has not done well at all. The need that instant noodles are catering to is not the same as the Horlicks’ base brand.”
That may be, but to reach inflection point at some time in the future, “Horlicks needs to do a lot more to encourage trials and repeat purchases,” says Sahni. “With strong incumbents, it will be a hard and long journey.”