NEW DELHI: Colgate, Lux and Airtel are the most popular brands among Indian consumers, a new survey has revealed.

The Economic Times, the daily newspaper, and Nielsen, the research firm, interviewed 8,160 people living in major cities across the country, asking their opinions of 372 brands overall.

Colgate topped the charts, a position the dental care brand retained for four straight years until 2008, since when it has been runner up in every poll.

Mukul Deoras, MD, Colgate-Palmolive India, argued its unrivalled distribution, strong marketing and broad portfolio of products all played a central role in the company's success.

"One key aspect of maintaining brand and market leadership is being available where your consumers are and being relevant to a variety of consumers across income segments," he said.

Lux, a personal care range from Hindustan Unilever (HUL) that first launched in India in 1924, claimed second position, ahead of Airtel, the mobile telecoms provider, in third.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the advent of mobile telephony has improved the lives of millions in a very short span of time," Sanjay Kapoor, CEO, Bharti Airtel, said. "It's not only about connectivity but a means to earn their livelihood."

Lifebuoy, Hindustan Unilever's health and beauty brand, was fourth, while Nokia, the handset maker, relinquished top spot for the first time in three years, having come under pressure from premium and cheaper alternatives.

"It's a classic case of a brand caught in the middle," said Shripad Nadkarni, a director of MarketGate, the consultancy. "They created the category and have been dominant for quite some time."

Dettol, Reckitt Benckiser's household cleaner, was sixth, beating Britannia, the packaged food group, in seventh, and Vodafone, the telecoms specialist, in eighth.

"As more and more Indian customers are discovering [the] internet through mobiles, [the] development of content in local languages by mobile operators will be crucial," Kumar Ramanathan, head of marketing at Vodafone, said.

Maggi, Nestlé's popular noodle brand, and Closeup, Hindustan Unilever's toothpaste, completed the top ten, just in front of Coca-Cola, the soft drink, and Fair & Lovely, a skin whitening cream made by HUL.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff