Unilever goes digital in India

29 April 2011

NEW DELHI: Hindustan Unilever, the consumer goods group, plans to boost its digital marketing expenditure levels in India, thus mirroring the changing habits of shoppers.

The manufacturer of Dove, Lifebuoy and Rin is India's largest advertiser, and has now set its sights on the country's expanding internet population, currently standing at around 100m people.

"We have already increased our digital budget substantially in India and it will go up even more with more Indians going online," Babs Rangaiah, Unilever's vp, global communications planning, said, mydigitalfc reported.

"Our idea is to bring our spends closer to the consumption."

The categories likely to attract Hindustan Unilever's (HUL) attention incorporate paid-for search, social networks and video properties.

It has recently been involved in an innovative tie-up covering the latter area, whereby HUL funded the premier of the Bollywood film Dabangg on YouTube.

Mobile will also be a key focus, not least because wireless devices constitute the sole means of accessing the web for many users, a trend that's likely to increase in the future.

"Mobile is the biggest opportunity here. With smartphones and 3G coming in, we are looking at investing in it seriously," Rangaiah said.

Unilever's Indian arm has previously run successful programmes in this space, including an effort promoting deodorant brand Axe, giving away free ringtones and providing a unique alarm clock.

"We have already done some innovative work on the digital platform here in India like the Axe wake-up service. More such innovative campaigns will happen soon," said Rangaiah.

Despite emphasising emerging media, television, by far the top advertising channel in India, should retain a primary role for the near-term at minimum.

"TV has been and will continue to be the leading medium for the company's media mix," Rangaiah argued.

"The market in India is heavily dominated by television. It is too powerful a medium to be overlooked."

"However, the fact is that consumers are no longer restricting themselves to one medium, and as marketers we need to be more diverse in our approach to reach out to them."

Data sourced from Mydigitalfc; additional content by Warc staff