GSK to enter protein supplement segment with Horlicks Protein+

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New Delhi: GSK Consumer Healthcare Ltd has found a new consumer segment—working Indian men—who the British company believes are protein-deficient. Aimed at this segment, the local entity of the Brentford, UK-headquartered firm is set to launch Horlicks Protein+, a protein supplement that the company has developed in India.

“This is an entirely new segment. The protein supplements market in India is growing at upwards of 20% annually. Horlicks Protein+ is targeted at working adults who are most likely to miss the required quantum of protein intake in diet due to a hectic lifestyle,” said Vikram Bahl, area marketing lead (nutrition and digestive health), GSK Consumer Healthcare India. However, the product is not targeted at gym-goers who may look to build muscles through heavy exercise and protein supplements.

This is the first time GSK is targeting Indian adult men with an extension of brand Horlicks—which was originally brought to India by the British towards the end of World War-II as a dietary supplement.

With Horlicks Protein+, said Bahl, the company hopes to boost presence in top 100 towns across trade channels and leverage the online marketplaces, besides its core strength of chemist shops. About 46% of GSK’s revenue comes from South India and 36% from East India, while the remaining comes from exports (8%), North India (7%) and West India (3%), according to the company’s presentation to analysts on 12 February. At present, India accounts for more than 80% of Horlicks sales.

GSK hopes Horlicks Protein+ will help the company increase sales even in the weaker markets. “The market has huge potential. Besides the strong brand, the product is priced competitively, tastes great, and is one of our biggest marketing push in recent years,” Bahl added.

Horlicks Protein+ will be available in two flavours—vanilla and chocolate—priced at Rs495 for 400 gm and Rs280 for 200 gm.

In 1997, GSK came up with the first Horlicks extension targeting mothers with Mother’s Horlicks. Following its success of getting Indian mothers to buy its health drink, GSK launched Women’s Horlicks in 2008.

Besides Horlicks, GSK also markets three more malt-based health food drink brands—Boost, Viva and Maltova—in the Indian market. But the company’s expansion has, so far, been restricted to extensions of brand Horlicks.

Besides health drinks, GSK has been trying to crack the breakfast and snacks market in India since 2011, with little success. Its attempt to market Horlicks Oats and Horlicks Foodles, a noodle brand, remained limited to parts of the southern markets. Horlicks Nutribar, launched in 2009 and marketed as nutrition snack, didn’t see much success either. The company also sells biscuits under Horlicks brand.

“While GSK has right to win in malt food drink and high protein categories, we remain sceptical of GSK’s renewed effort in the foods space given that it has failed to make a dent in categories like energy bars, biscuits and instant noodles in the past,” equity research firm Prabhudas Lilladher said in a report earlier this month.

The protein supplement market in India is estimated at Rs1,407 crore (retail value) in 2017, up from Rs1,017 crore in 2014, according to market research firm Euromonitor International. The protein supplements market in India is dominated by French firm Danone’s Protinex, with around 45% market share. Direct selling firm Amway India’s Nutrilite, which the company markets as a dietary supplement, Abbott Laboratories’ Ensure, and direct seller Herbalife’s personalized protein supplement, are the key products. Besides, there are a bunch of whey protein brands that are primarily consumed by body builders.livemint