NEW DELHI: Hindustan Unilever, the FMCG firm, is taking a targeted approach to increasing its digital adspend levels in India, prioritising high-end brands that currently have the largest online audience.

The firm has introduced an in-house scheme, BE Digital, which lays out how brands like Lakme, Sunsilk and TRESemmé can be connected with the internet population, members of which tend to be more affluent.

As part of this process, Google, the online company, has sent staff to provide new media training for many of Hindustan Unilever's managers.

Moreover, Hindustan Unilever has created a "digital experimentation fund", allowing its own employees to suggest ideas for digital marketing programmes, five of which have been implemented to date.

"For some brands, the time has already come now, and others will catch up," Hemant Bakshi, executive director, home and personal care at Hindustan Unilever, told the Economic Times. "Fact is, no brand can today escape being digital."

Hindustan Unilever's research suggests many young consumers in India dedicate three to four hours to new media channels each day, with mobile phones serving as the main access point for the majority of this group.

"The digital space has reached an inflexion point," Bakshi added. "The reality is that consumers in the digital space have moved on much faster than companies have."

One example of Hindustan Unilever's output is the TRESemmé Style Studio, a website containing over 100 videos providing styling tips, and a virtual "mirror" to let viewers see themselves as they follow along in real-time.

To date, the organisation has found that YouTube, the video-sharing platform, delivers the highest return on investment in terms of building brand awareness.

Keratinology, its haircare range, has thus created a digital "studio" on this platform, receiving over 1m views within a week of going online. "It is not just about quantity and spends, but quality too," said Bakshi.

"We have a number of measurement techniques in place, but ultimately digital must lead to our brands becoming stronger and this should be reflected in sales."

Alongside measuring its digital efforts against those of other FMCG companies, Hindustan Unilever is comparing itself with leaders in this space, like sportswear firm Nike and energy drink Red Bull.

Data sourced from Hindustan Unilever; additional content by Warc staff