Among the many permanent changes brought on by the pandemic will be the higher standards that stakeholders of all stripes will hold brands to. This will apply across all industries, and in all markets, according to a recent report, “2021: Most Valuable Global Brands” by the Kantar Group. Firms will need to “quickly adjust to these new expectations around trust, value, and mutual responsibility.”
The report draws on Kantar’s proprietary database, which includes “information from almost 4 million consumers about their attitudes to (and relationships with) 18,500 brands across 512 categories in 51 markets.” Kantar also surveys more than 170,000 consumers annually, across more than 50 countries.
Brands that score highly as “Meaningfully Different – that connect to people emotionally, and set trends in the marketplace – have also notched impressive gains in brand value.” Brands like Apple and Amazon not only have the greatest market reach. They also connect deeply with consumers’feelings.
Definition of brand value
Accountants and marketers have yet to reach agreement on a formal GAAP approach to valuing brands. Pending that agreement, Kantar’s approach is a promising way of measuring brand value in two steps.
First, the research examines financial value: i.e. “The proportion of the total $ value of the parent company that can be attributed to the brand in question, considering both current and future performance.”
It then assesses the brand contribution: “Proportion of financial value generated by the brand’s ability to increase purchase volume and charge premium.”
Brand Value is “the $ amount that the brand contributes to the overall business value of the parent company. This approach is aimed at isolating the value generated by the strength of the brand alone in the minds of consumers i.e. with all other elements removed.”
The result is “a holistic portrait of brand equity: one that incorporates how the market values a company’s brand assets – and how ordinary people do, too.”
The Great Acceleration
As in all fields, the pandemic “accelerated existing patterns of business evolution exponentially toward digitization, toward sustainability, toward corporate responsibility.”
Kantar found that the greatest acceleration came “in the relationship between brands and technology. Across all categories, technology-driven brands “now account for more than 50% of the value of top 100 brands. This figure includes leading social media, electronics, and business services brands such as Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft – but also tech-enabled retailers like Amazon and Pinduoduo.”
Fast food brands like McDonald’s and Chipotle “went all-in on their digital ordering apps and delivery partnerships.” Telecom brands “finally shook up their customer experience by unveiling new virtual showrooms.” Shoppers worldwide “embraced online ordering for beauty products and home goods.”
Businesses globally “embraced new telework technologies and services, as part of a rapid shift toward Work From Home.” There was thus “a massive, cross-category move toward ecommerce and online ordering services.”
Thus, Domino’s is no longer just a pizza company: “it is a last-mile delivery expert, with efficiency protocols and customer service standards that would rate as world-class in any industry.” This need to master “last mile” logistics has, “forced big brands to think smaller and act more locally.”
The pandemic obviously increased the importance of the home. Homes became “principal sites for shopping, recreation, work, and consumption, with far reaching consequences.”
In the process, brands became increasingly important. The Kantar Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands recorded a massive 42% increase in value from a year ago. now amounting to $7 trillion in total value, compared to only $1.4 trillion in 2006.
Look in the Mirror, Not Out the Window
The report also contains five key recommendations for firms wishing to grow their brand. An essay by knowledge leader Walker Smith argues that “the foundational prerequisite of growth is the courage to grow. Impediments to growth sit within a company itself. Growth is rarely hostage to the marketplace.”
Even in sectors hardest hit during the pandemic, brands that pivoted to delivery, eCommerce, privacy safeguards, home- centered solutions, hygiene signalling and virtual experiences were able to grow.
1. Focus on doing the right things
Two things have particular importance. The first is a full-blown commitment to customer-centricity. The second is a firm-wide competency in organizational learning..
2. Grow the category, not just the brand.
Strong brands often beat the odds in weak categories, but growth-oriented companies do more. They take control of their categories and broaden the category boundaries.
In this way, “pet food becomes pet care, automotive becomes smart mobility, alcohol beverages become social beverages, cleaning becomes public health, dairy becomes protein, and the local pharmacy becomes local health care.”
3. Shift from small ideas to transformative ideas
In a rapidly shifting marketplace, the logistical complexity of managing multiple brands increases exponentially. Firms need to invest in “fewer yet bigger brands.” Innovation, too, must “shift from small ideas to transformative ideas worth the logistical complexity.”
4. Find profit through purpose
The pandemic brought purpose into sharper focus. Kantar’s analysis shows that “responsibility is three times more important to reputation than a decade ago.” Competition for the talent will reinforce this trend.
5. Plan against scenarios beyond “business as usual”
In a world where disruptions are the new normal, Kantar recommends “bringing together top-down and bottom-up trend-spotting and futures assessment.” Firms must get beyond “best-in-class” thinking and look for growth outside the comfort zone of “business as usual”.
The Top Global Brands 2021
According the report, the top ten brands in 2021 in descending order are Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Tencent, Alibaba, Visa, McDonald’s and Mastercard.
The 158-age report covers these, and the other 90 top global brands, along with the relevant sectors, in considerable detail. Overall, the report is a treasure trove of insights on modern branding.
Worth a look.
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