NEW DELHI: The most trusted brands in India have achieved that status through adept use of digital and social, but one industry figure says many brands prefer to remain in their 'safe zone', reluctant to explore new advertising approaches.

One reason for this hesitancy, according to Vinish Kathuria, COO, Digital Quotient, is the number of family-owned businesses in India sticking to their tried-and-tested methods.

So, even though digital is increasingly popular among marketers, that has not yet been reflected in its share of adspend, although Kathuria expected that would change in due course. "In the years to come, the entire pyramid can just get reversed, with digital getting the highest budget share," he told Best Media Info.

The digital community is, of course, sure that brands effectively have little choice but to engage with digital as that is where more and more of their customers are to be found. Sumanta Ganguly, svp at LinTeractiv, described the current situation as one of "volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity" but pointed out that "what is in your hand is to craft your presence better in this era".

And India's most trusted brands have been doing exactly that. Soft drink Maaza, for example, has successfully leveraged an association with regional festivals in the digital environment, communicating in local languages via social. It has also seen young consumers in lower tier cities create social profiles and interact with the brand.

Frooti, another soft drink, has used celebrities on digital to help spark conversations. And, importantly, it looks at all the opinions and ideas that come in via digital touchpoints. "We try and incorporate suggestions and feedback to the extent possible, thereby furthering the trust they (the consumers) have in us," Nadia Chauhan, CMO at Parle Agro, told the Economic Times.

Reckitt Benckiser, the household products business, has set up a digital hub to now monitor real-time conversations and evaluate the sentiments around the Dettol brand on a daily basis.

Nitish Kapoor, managing director of Reckitt Benckiser India, said that digital and social had changed forever the way brands interacted with consumers. "You can no longer force your brand's message on consumers and expect them to get mesmerised by the proposition," he stated.

Data sourced from Best Media Info, Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff