MUMBAI: Consumer testimonials are becoming more widely used in Indian marketing as advertisers search for effective ways to cut through growing advertising clutter.

The trend is apparent across categories and media as spending rises on all fronts. India is one of the fastest-growing advertising markets in the world, as recent data from GroupM made clear.

The media agency's This Year Next Year report indicated that the 14.2% overall growth seen in 2015 would be surpassed this year as expenditure increased 15.5%. And while digital will be the fastest-growing channel, all traditional media platforms will show positive growth.

As digital marketing and regional language media options proliferate, not only are there more opportunities for brands to reach their target audiences, but more brands are attempting to do so.

"Virtually every advertiser, big or small, is clamouring for TV space," according to Manish Bhatt, founder-director, Scarecrow Communications. One consequence is that "you have to do something really different to stand out in all of this", he told the Business Standard.

"Using consumer testimonials is one such device in a list that includes long-format ads, quirky casting and scripts," he noted.

The use of testimonials taps into a global trend towards "authenticity" which is in turn a consequence of the widespread use of digital media.

Hindustan Unilever, for example, has suggested that finding the magic in effective brand communications in a connected world hinges on ART – or Authenticity, Relevance and Talkability.

N Chandramouli, CEO of brand intelligence firm TRA, also pointed to the rise of reality TV. "Realism as a trend has caught on in the television business," he said. "I am not surprised to see it now moving into ads."

While there may be a larger role for real people reporting real experiences with brands, they won't replace the long-established celebrity endorser. The CMO of consumer goods business Marico posited a dual approach.

"The advertising world will broadly go in two directions," he said. "One is entertainment, your normal, regular ads. The other is authentic information, where ads tell you what you don't know and what you should, in a believable manner."

Data sourced from Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff