Global Index

India Spotlight Index

India Spotlight Index

D. Marketing findings

Key findings

  • Hindustan Unilever is the leader in this Category, scoring 6.7 out of 10, demonstrating reasonably strong policies and commitments to responsible marketing to the general population and children. Other companies that score fairly well across all marketing criteria are Nestlé India, PepsiCo India and Mondelez India ranking second, third and fourth respectively.
  • Overall, the subsidiaries of global corporations that were assessed for this Index – Coca-Cola India, Mondelez India, Nestlé India, PepsiCo India and Hindustan Unilever – are aligned with the responsible marketing policies and practices of their parent companies. These policies apply to their global operations and, therefore, to their Indian subsidiaries. However, in some instances Indian subsidiaries have supplementary commitments. The broad scope and commitments within these policies give them an advantage over local companies whose pledges are mostly narrowly focussed only on ensuring honest and fair advertisement.
  • The companies originating in India – Britannia Industries, Mother Dairy, Amul and Parle Products – are at an early stage when it comes to adopting responsible marketing policies that apply either to all consumers or to children in particular. Commitments of all these companies, except for Mother Dairy (which did not provide any disclosure on this topic) are limited to membership of The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)3, which sets standards for responsible advertising but not for all forms of marketing, and does not audit compliance of those companies that pledge adherence to its standards. There is no evidence that any of these companies have a policy codifying responsible marketing to children.

Marketing to all consumers

  • Most of the companies assessed for this Index have either adopted their own policies on responsible marketing to all consumers or pledged to conform to standards of self-regulatory organizations of which they are members. 
  • Mondelez India, Nestlé India, PepsiCo India and Hindustan Unilever report a responsible approach to marketing codifi ed in their parent companies’ policies that are applicable to their operations in India. They also have internal control systems to evaluate marketing activities intended for the whole population. However, none of the companies contracts an independent auditor to assess their degree of compliance with their own commitments – which would be best practice.
  • Britannia Industries, Amul, Coca-Cola India and Parle Products do not report having a responsible marketing policy for all consumers. However, all of these companies are members of the ASCI, which sets standards for responsible advertising to all consumers applicable to its members. However, these standards fall short of best practice.
  • Mother Dairy is the only company that did not provide any evidence of a commitment to responsible marketing practices.

Marketing to children

  • All companies that operate as subsidiaries of global corporations – Coca-Cola India, Mondelez India, Nestlé India, PepsiCo India and Hindustan Unilever – publicly disclose their policies on marketing to children. Furthermore, they are signatories to the IFBA Global Pledge and the recently renewed Indian FBAI Pledge, both voluntary industry commitments on responsible marketing to children. Both pledges require members to market only healthy products or no products to children under 12 (with the threshold for a child audience of 35% or more of the total audience). See details in Table 10 for a comparison of various industry pledges and codes.
  • Coca-Cola India and Mondelez India’s policies prohibit the marketing of any of their products to children under 12, using a 35% child audience threshold. Nestlé India, PepsiCo India and Hindustan Unilever commit to advertising only healthy products, as defined by their own NPS.
  • The responsible marketing policies of Coca-Cola India, Mondelez India, Nestlé India, PepsiCo India and Hindustan Unilever include a broad range of commitments across a range of media and forms of marketing, age restrictions, audience thresholds and specific marketing techniques relating to the use of celebrities, fantasy characters and toys. 
  • All multinational companies ban marketing in primary schools and agree to support educational programs in those settings only if requested by the school’s administration. Nestlé India demonstrates leading practice by extending this commitment to areas close to primary schools and places where children gather, particularly kindergartens, playgrounds and amusement parks. In these places, the company commits to advertise only healthy products that are targeted at adults only.
  • Only Mondelez India demonstrates a commitment not to advertise to children in or near secondary schools. This is a commendable commitment, given increased concern of stakeholders in India over marketing practices directed at children in schools.
  • Britannia Industries, Amul, Mother Dairy and Parle Products do not report having a responsible marketing policy for children yet. On engagement, Britannia Industries stated that it is currently developing such a policy.

Key recommendations

Marketing to all consumers

  • Adopt a responsible marketing policy for all consumers: All companies that have not yet done so should adopt and disclose a policy on responsible marketing to all populations. Such policies should follow or go beyond the key pledges contained in the ICC General Code and the Framework for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing Communications.
  • Set up audit mechanisms to evaluate compliance with the policy and publicly disclose them: All companies are encouraged to engage independent auditors to monitor their marketing practices against their commitments and publicly disclose the findings by different media each year.

Marketing to children

  • Sign the revised FBAI Pledge: The companies originating in India – Britannia Industries, Mother Dairy, Amul and Parle Products – are encouraged to sign up to the FBAI Pledge to seize the opportunity to adopt current industry best practice in one easy step.
  • Adopt a comprehensive policy: As well as signing the FBAI Pledge, companies should adopt a policy on responsible marketing to children that goes beyond those commitments, by addressing all media channels, including all forms of new media, and describing a position on using characters, live or fantasy, that may have a significant influence on children. In such a policy companies should explicitly define what kind of food and beverage products they will market to children of various age groups and how will they define the target audience. If companies decide to advertise to children, best practice is to advertise healthy products only, as defined by a robust NPS.
  • Prohibit marketing activities in and near primary and secondary schools: Companies are encouraged to ensure an advertisement-free environment in and near primary and secondary schools. Companies that deliver such commitments stand out among peers and may benefit from greater public respect as a result.
  • Monitor compliance with the responsible marketing policy and publish compliance rates: Companies should monitor the compliance rates of their marketing activities directed at children. Best practice is to engage independent auditors and publicly disclose the company’s individual compliance level for both traditional and new media separately.

Improving nutrition for all

The Access to Nutrition Index rates food and beverage manufacturers´ nutrition-related policies, practices and disclosures worldwide on a recurring basis.

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Funders

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Wellcome Trust

CIFF

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