As one of the last moves from outgoing CEO Paul Polman, Unilever’s acquisition of Horlicks is a fitting legacy. It’s a double win, not only does it open up markets in Asia further, it contributes to their growing portfolio of nutritional food products and offers exponential room for growth.
From a marketing perspective, it makes total sense. It gives the company another foothold in emerging markets such as India, where the drink is highly popular (and Unilever’s portfolio is struggling against wellness brands such as incumbent, Patanjali), whilst also allowing them to continue to strengthen their commitment to being a purpose driven house of brands by adding some regional flexibility to the proposition.
In the words of Nitin Paranjpe, President of Unilever Food and Refreshment, “Improving the health and well-being of one billion people by 2020 is a key pillar in our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.” The recent acquisitions see them translating this ambition for the Asian market with already-established brands. Horlick’s has an exceptionally strong heritage in the Asian markets, being introduced across India in the 1930’s and becoming a family staple ever since.
This long track record establishes Unilever’s footing in health and wellness in the market and opens opportunities to launch further innovations in this space. In short, this purchase not only offers Unilever the chance to buy their way into Health and Wellness, it also offers them the credibility to build more products for it.
Only time will tell what opportunities this opens up for Unilever, but if they use the brand equity they purchased to their advantage, expect to see both it and Horlicks brands leading the charge for wellness over the next decade.