NEW DELHI: As official statistics confirm the Indian economy has slowed to its lowest rate of growth since 2009, leading marketers have offered advice about how they plan to respond to potential cutbacks in marketing budgets.

While they expressed a variety of strategies to the Economic Times, there was broad consensus that companies needed to be innovative in terms of product and to maximise marketing efficiencies.

"The big challenge is being able to navigate the flux and not to wait till things improve," explained Rohit Ohri, the CEO of Dentsu India.

Piyush Mathur, president of Nielsen India, said every company will have to look closely at the return on every dollar, but he warned that a spending freeze, however tempting, could be "disastrous", especially if the industry faces a "crisis with an unpredictable end".

Nielsen's clients are cutting back on testing of ad concepts or packaging, but instead are focusing on more functional research, such as examining which shops work best for their products.

Others are turning to precision marketing, social media and digital. L'Oreal India, for example, is said to be reserving a large proportion of its budget for a digital campaign beginning in 2014.

Vivek Bhargava, CEO of iProspectCommunicate2, said: "Digital is about maximising efficiency and it can help create a brand with a niche target audience that has the maximum propensity to buy your product."

Godrej Consumer Products, meanwhile, intends to continue with its new product launch schedule despite the downturn and its campaigns involve a mix of multimedia and consumer insights.

As marketers consider their options, further evidence of the task ahead emerged as an HSBC survey of purchasing managers' sentiment recorded a rate of 48.5 in August, from 50.1 in July. A figure below 50 indicates a contraction in activity.

Purchasing managers said overall new orders had declined and also indicated they were buying less material for future production.

Data sourced from the Economic Times, New York Times; additional content by Warc staff