Study: Tech brands ranked most valuable

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The world’s most valuable brands have experienced record growth according to the Kantar BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands 2021 ranking, with the total worth reaching $7.1 trillion – equivalent to the combined GDP of France and Germany.

The 42 per cent increase; more than four times the study’s annual average percentage increase over the past 15 years, has been driven by confidence derived from vaccine availability, economic stimulus packages and improving GDP outlooks. US brands account for 56 of the Top 100 brands, with Amazon and Apple leading the way – each now worth over $0.5 trillion.

Key trends highlighted in this year’s Kantar BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands study include:

  • Amazon maintained its position as the world’s most valuable brand, growing 64 per cent to $684 billion (or the equivalent GDP of Poland). Having first entered the BrandZ ranking in 2006, Amazon’s value grew by almost $268 billion this year and became the first half-a-trillion-dollar brand, joined by Apple, valued at $612 billion.
  • Tesla is the fastest growing brand and became the most valuable car brand, growing its value by 275 per cent year on year to $42.6 billion
  • Five brands more than doubled their brand values: Pinduoduo, Meituan, Moutai and TikTok from China, and Tesla from the USA.
  • Overall growth has been fuelled by 69 brands increasing their value by at least 5 per cent since 2020, together with 13 new entrants, including Zoom, Nvidia and AMD, and Spotify.
  • Technology dominates the top end of the Kantar BrandZ ranking, with seven of the top ten brands coming from the tech sector. Tech has also enabled non-tech brands to achieve significant growth, for example Gucci – harnessing the power of TikTok during the pandemic, and Domino’s – leveraging online and delivery services. The Top 10 brands are today valued at $3.3 trillion, compared to $800 billion in 2011.
  • US brands grew fastest in 2021 with their brand values growing an average 46 per cent year-on-year, meaning the US now accounts for 74 per cent of the Top 100’s total value, despite having just 24 per cent of global GDP.
  • China has consolidated its lead over Europe. Chinese brands have grown from 11 per cent of the Top 100 value in 2011 to 14 per cent today. European brands, in contrast, now represent 8 per cent of the ranking’s value versus 20 per cent in 2011.

“2020-1 has been a record year for brand growth, and despite many facing a difficult year, our research has again proven that strong brands deliver superior shareholder returns, are more resilient and recover more quickly,” comments Nathalie Burdet, CMO of Kantar.

“With global ecommerce growing from 12 per cent to 15 per cent of all sales in 2020, it has been a positive year for brands involved in that value chain – from the retailers through to the couriers like FedEx and UPS. However, we have also seen growth in industries where many were predicting challenges early in the pandemic. Apparel brands for example have collectively grown even more than media and entertainment brands in the ranking, and luxury brands, despite reduced travel and lockdowns globally, have refocused their energies and seen growth as a result.”

Across industries, brands have been rewarded for meeting consumers’ changing needs and behaviours:

  • As consumers spent more time at home during lockdown, the Kantar BrandZ Top 10 Media and Entertainment Brands experienced impressive growth (+50 per cent). The technologies behind gaming, chip providers NVIDIA and AMD, entered the ranking for the first time.
  • The Media and Entertainment space was overtaken by the Apparel category with value growth of 53 per cent, as people redefined the boundaries between work and leisure wear. This was driven by athleisure, with Adidas, Nike, Puma and Lululemon all securing 50 per cent+ value growth. Whilst, collectively, fast fashion did not grow as fast, although, notably, Uniqlo (+88 per cent) and H&M (+47 per cent) grew valuations significantly.
  • As more of the world turned to online shopping during the pandemic, the Top 20 retailers grew their brand value by a combined 48 per cent. Beyond Amazon’s success, Chinese ecommerce brands showed strong growth; Alibaba, #7 in the global ranking consolidated its position as the second most valuable retail brand, and Pinduoduo was the fastest growing retail brand. The ecommerce giants are not the only retail winners: The Home Depot saw 22 per cent value growth thanks to online sales growth of 86 per cent1, while Walmart grew its value by 30 per cent and Lowe’s 51 per cent.
  • New entrant Zoom was one of the big tech stories of 2021, with its ease of use and reliability driving momentum with business and personal users. It entered the ranking at 52 with a valuation of $36.9 billion.
  • Subscription models have been a significant driver of success for many. Microsoft is one of the best examples of this (+26 per cent) innovating offers to adapt to new working environments and transitioning to subscription models to improve convenience and scalability. Xbox (+55 per cent), Disney (+13 per cent) and Netflix (+55 per cent) all saw growth, while Spotify entered the ranking following a 454 per cent growth in subscribers from 2015-20 and a significant improvement in consumer brand equity. Beyond technology, subscription-based models are also increasing the value of a broad range of brands including Lululemon, Nike, Mercedes-Benz and Heineken.
  • Alcohol maintained its growth throughout the pandemic, fuelled by Chinese Baiju brands. The most valuable alcohol brand in the world is Moutai ($109.3 billion)– which doubled its valuation in one year and is now four times the size of Budweiser (with the second biggest alcohol valuation of $25.5 billion). Heineken was the fastest growing beer brand growing 16 per cent (#4 in alcohol ranking).

Reputation, especially for sustainable and ethical purposes, is increasingly a driver for brand growth. The luxury category saw 34 per cent brand growth with, predominantly, French and Italian luxury companies such as LVMH investing in their corporate reputation through pandemic-related initiatives, sustainable transformation, and support for social movements such as BLM. Similarly, L’Oréal Paris successfully bucked the trend across beauty brands in the pandemic, securing brand growth by flexing its assets and driving female empowerment.

“This year’s results show that brand building remains critical to securing growth,” explains Burdet. “We track the stock market performance of our strongest brands and have seen these recover twice as fast as other key indices. Our analytics have uncovered that 70 per cent of what makes a brand successful is executing four fundamentals well: providing superior experience across consistently branded touchpoints, a range of well-designed and functional products and services, convenience, and exposure through great advertising. However, COVID-19 has emphasised consumer values such as trust and reliability. Those brands that are evolving their values, projecting leadership on these issues are demonstrating differentiation and standing out.”

 


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