Freebirds Stories
Maltova - health, strength and energy!

Much before the foreign brands stormed Indian market with their slogans like "XYZ is the secret of my energy", there was a popular swadeshi brand which had caught the imagination of youngsters with their unique cricketing star endorsements, and was the de-facto health drink for stamina & growth. That health drink brand was "Maltova".

 

It was way back in the 1960s, when Jagatjit Industries Limited (JIL), a pioneer in liquor industry, had come up with its own formulation of malt extract, which was a vital ingredient for their beverages & drinks. Since they were able to produce it in surplus, the company decided to utilize their expertise into health drink segment as well, by partnering with a foreign company called Ovaltine.

 
 

However, the partnership with Ovaltine turned out to be a disaster, as the European malt drink was basically targeted at elders as a night time drink for better sleep, and Indians were not ready to spend for such luxury (It was considered a premium product). Within years, JIL withdrew from the partnership & after intensive research in the mid 1970s, came up with an indigenious formula for an Indian health drink targeted towards kids.

 
 

Since it was based on Malt, and was India's answer to Ovaltine, they named it "Malt" + "Ova"ltine => "Maltova". It was a well played strategy, since the same Indian parents would think twice to spend on themselves, but never hesitated to spend a premium when it came to their kids. Moreover, the extra-chocolaty flavor in Maltova had made milk more acceptable among kids, who otherwise would usually have to be persuaded a lot to drink milk when it is in plain form.

 
 

Meanwhile, the company came up with highly innovative marketing strategies like freebies, puzzles, prizes, etc to directly reach out to kids, to strengthen Maltova's brand recall. Also, it had noticed the rising popularity of cricket among the rising middle class, and was in fact, one of the earliest brands to sign up long term contracts with popular cricketers for endorsements.

 
 

In the 1990s, Maltova had started showing signs of fatigue due to intense competition from the deep pocketed MNCs. That's when the company decided to focus only on their core liquor business, and thus sold all other non-core brands including the Maltova brand to GSK. Since GSK already had Boost, it suppressed Maltova and intentionally decreased its supply by limiting it only to a few stores. However, such is its strong brand recall that even today, many tend to refer to malt-based or chocolate-based drinks as Maltova in general, thus keeping its legacy still alive.

 
Story by
Guru Prasad

Guruprasad (or “GP” in short) is a Chief Engineer & Technology Mentor by profession and spends a...

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