It’s time to get nostalgic. I got inspired by Starbucks! Yes you heard it right. The coffee company itself. In conjunction with Singapore’s National (Independence) Day, Starbucks has launched a series of items to commerate the occasion. I’m sure there is some murmur of milking the opportunity for a promotion but two items stirred a bit of thought, the Horlicks White Chocolate Cake and the Ovaltine Chocolate Cake. You can check out the rest of the items over here.
Milo and Horlicks resonated with me. BUt what do Ovaltine, Horlicks, and Milo have in common? They were born in the West (Switzerland, US, and Australia respectively, if Wikipedia hasn’t failed me, although today Ovaltine and Horlicks are owned by British companies), are very popular in the East (in addition to their birth countries…and…elsewhere), and less so in the US. They’re all powder-based malted milk drinks, although Ovaltine and Milo are chocolate flavored and Horlicks isn’t.
But Starbucks chose to go with Ovaltine and Horlicks isntead of Milo here in Singapore for their cakes. Why? My suspicion is the brand. Milo has a very strong brand cache among the three. So with it, probably came a little bit more money to co-promote and co-market. The other two brands were probably a little bit more willing, flexible and if licensing fees were involved, then a lot cheaper.
In fact, go to any coffee shop here in Singapore and you can order it by name. Iced Milo, Hot Milo etc. But for the other two it really depends if they have it.
Milo launched in the 70s/80s a very strong campaign tying itself very closely to sports. Football, track and field, you name it and they were there. And the push was consistent across countries in the Southeast Asia Region. Furthermore, the focus on ensuring that the link is strong with sports continues till today. Look at these happy faces of children in Malaysia below.
For most Singaporeans, we had it when we were in school as Milo started to sponsor school sports events and hence become synonymous with those of that age group. What happened thereafter? Those guys then aged and now, we are very influential consumers. We remember the brand and even buy it for our young.
So here lies an important lesson. Similar to brands like Coke, target the folks when they are young and when they grow older, they become you loyal customers, even helping you to pass on the brand messaging to their friends and children. Perfect situation.
However, the question is, can Milo continue to be strong. To do so, they have to constantly leverage on their brand to bring young consumers in. To do that, they will have to change. So far, we have not seen that and with a shift in consumers to be healthy and focus on less sugary drinks, they will have to change fast. Can’t leave in the shadow of the past glory for too long. So Ovaltine and Horlicks, there is your chance. If you can change faster than Milo, you will have a shot. There are still a fair number of people who remember your brand. If not, our friends from Starbucks would not have selected you and charged $6.50 per slice of cake with your stuff in it. Take your chance before its too late as the number of consumers who still remember the brand shrink every year.
Good old memories nevertheless. Check out the different history of the drinks below and hope it brings back memories.
|PRODUCT TYPE||Hot cocoa|
|MARKETS||Worldwide, mostly Asia and Australia|
A cup of hot Milo
Milo/ˈmaɪloʊ/ is a chocolate and malt powder which is mixed with hot or cold water and/or milk to produce a beverage popular in many parts of the world. Produced by Nestlé, Milo was originally developed by Thomas Mayne in Sydney, Australia in 1934. It is marketed and sold in many countries around the world.
|TYPE||Malted dairy drink|
|MANUFACTURER||Associated British Foods or licensees
(Nestlé in the United States)
|COUNTRY OF ORIGIN||Switzerland|
|VARIANTS||Chocolate Malt, Malt, Rich Chocolate|
|RELATED PRODUCTS||Hot chocolate, Nesquik,Horlicks|
A jar of Ovaltine from the UK (2006), a mug of ovaltine made with hot milk and a tablespoon of the powder.
Ovaltine was developed in Berne, Switzerland, where it is known by its original name, Ovomaltine (from ovum, Latin for “egg,” and malt, which were originally its main ingredients). Soon after its invention, the factory moved out to the village of Neuenegg, a few kilometers west of Berne, where it is still produced.
Ovomaltine was exported to Britain in 1909; a misspelling of the name on the trademark registration application led to the name being shortened to Ovaltine in English-speaking markets.
Horlicks is the name of a company and of a malted milk hot drink developed by the founders James and William Horlick. It is now manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline in the United Kingdom, South Africa, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, andJamaica, and under licence in the Philippines and Malaysia.