MUMBAI: Four in five Indian consumers regard brands as aspirational symbols and proof of an improved standard of living, well above the global average according to a study.

The 2013 Meaningful Brands report from Havas Media Group examined the impact of a brand's benefits alongside its effect on 12 different areas of well-being (including health, happiness, financial, relationships and community), to gain a view of its effect on quality of life. The worldwide study covered 700 brands and more than 134,000 consumers in 23 countries.

This found that most people around the world would not care if most brands disappeared tomorrow; only 20% were seen as having a meaningful positive impact on people lives.

In India, however, people were better disposed towards brands as 61% generally trusted them. They also had high expectations, with 82% believing brands should enhance personal well-being, the Economic Times reported, compared with a global average of 70% and an Asian average of 77%.

"The India findings highlight deep customer involvement with brands," said Anita Nayyar, Havas Media Group CEO, India and South Asia. "Meaningful today is real business, delivering what matters when, in the truest economic and social sense."

Brands needed to establish relationships with their customers "directed towards sustained personal, societal and financial success", she added.

The study further found that more meaningful global brands are likely to come from emerging than western markets, where brands need to reinvent themselves to reconnect with people, to avoid getting commoditised.

"This presents huge opportunities for existing and new brands to establish meaningful connections with their customers in India," declared Mohit Joshi Havas Media India Managing Director. "Here, consumers are still warming up to brands and core categories like Food and Beverages are seen as meaningful."

But India's top meaningful brand in 2013 was in the insurance sector. LIC was followed by Britannia and then Cadbury. The remaining seven included Sony, Samsung, Parle-G, Unilever, Tata Motors, Airtel, Hyundai, LGE and Maruti.

Those brands with the highest attachment levels – meaning that people would care if the brand disappeared – included two LIC, Cadbury and Unilever.

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