WPP and Kantar Millward Brown have released the 2018 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, reporting that the total brand value of the Top 100 grew by a record 21%. This added $750 billion to the ranking, and driving the total value to $4.4 trillion.
“We’ve seen the biggest ever rise in brand value this year, driven by growth across all categories. Both new and established players have seen the payoff in being bold and adopting a long-term outlook towards brand-building,” said WPP’s David Roth in a statement.
“WPP’s own focus is on providing innovative approaches for our clients that combine data and technology with world-class creativity. Those companies that invest in intelligence-led marketing and back their brands with the power of creativity and ideas will be the winners in today’s world of innovation, disruption and change.”
Not surprisingly, eight out of the Top 10 were technology brands. Google maintained top position, with Apple in second place, growing +23% to $302.1 billion and +28% to $300.6 billion respectively. Amazon moved up to number 3 after growing 49% to $207.6 billion, overtaking Microsoft. Interestingly, Tencent rose to number five, overtaking Facebook at number six. South Africa’s JSE-listed Naspers owns 33% of Tencent, China’s biggest internet firm. It grew 65% in brand value to $179 billion, up three places from 2017.
“Brands that are winning in the intelligence-led marketing era include businesses such as Amazon and Tencent who put the consumer at the heart of everything they do,” said Doreen Wang, Kantar Millward Brown’s global head of BrandZ. “These brands use technology to understand the needs of their consumers and apply these learnings to create an ecosystem of services that fulfil multiple needs, enabling a seamless consumer experience between platforms.”
Visa stands at number seven, followed by McDonald’s, China’s Alibaba and US telecoms company, AT&T at number 10.
This was the first year non-US brands grew faster than US brands. Fourteen Chinese brands appear in the Top 100 ranking compared to just one (China Mobile) in 2006. The total value of China’s Top 10 grew year-on-year by +47%, more than double that of the US brands (+23%).
Key trends highlighted in this year’s BrandZ Global Top 100 study include:
- Intelligence-led marketing, such as AI and AR, allows brands to ‘revive and thrive’ and maintain relevance to consumers.
- com and HP reappeared on this year’s list, having both been in the BrandZ Top 100 in 2016. US telecoms giant Spectrum (no. 27) led the Newcomers to the rankings, with Uber (no.81) and Instagram (no.91). Last year’s fastest riser Adidas jumped into the ranking at 100. It was also the first time an Indonesian brand entered the BrandZ Top 100 with regional bank BCA at no.99.
- Partnerships proved pivotal as brands sought ways to maximise efficiency. Leading brands continued to raise the bar on expectations for customer experience at every touch point—both online and offline—from trial to pick-up or delivery by seeking strategic, long-term partnerships.
- Retail demonstrated strong growth as the fastest rising category growing +35% in value over the last 12 months.
- Tech-related brands continue to dominate. In the ‘battle of the brands’, accounting for over half (+56%) of the BrandZ Top 100’s brand value.
In the luxury brands ranking, Gucci stole the show, growing to take place number three. Meanwhile Louis Vuitton retained its number one slot, and Hermès number two.
“Once shunned by luxury brands for fear of diluting their prestige and exclusivity, leaders such as Hermès, Burberry and Gucci are embracing digital technologies, attracting younger consumers while providing a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels; whether that’s online, mobile or in high-street stores,” said Wang. “We’ve seen particularly strong growth in Asian markets as consumption of luxury products in these regions increases and brands deploy more targeted, omnichannel marketing campaigns to reach this influential demographic group.”
Wang continued: “Snapping the perfect picture of their luxury item using image-sharing platforms, such as Instagram, consumers have been able to assert their voices and communicate personal brand experience stories. It was only a matter of time before luxury brands realised the importance digital technologies played in controlling and driving the narrative.”
The tech giants also topped the entertain brands rankings, with both Google (no.1) and Apple (no.2) appear “in tune with developments in the entertainment sector, offering music streaming services to compete against the likes of Spotify and Amazon Music. Apple Music provides consumers with a streaming music service, a live radio station and a venue for music fans to connect with their favourite artists, while Google has recently launched YouTube Music replacing Google Play Music, proving its ability to become successful as both a video streaming and on-demand music platform”.
Netflix (no.61 in the Top 100) received the red-carpet treatment, emerging as a true ‘A-list’ celebrity, growing +73% in brand value to $20.8 billion and climbing 31 places in the BrandZ Global Top 100 ranking.
“Over-the-top services are a game-changer as TV Networks and online video platforms compete for market share,” said Peter Walshe, BrandZ Global Strategy Director, Kantar Millward Brown. “For brands being squeezed in slow-growth categories such as telecoms, the only solution has been to tear down traditional category walls, as curators, creators and providers of content meet in what has become an epic entertainment battle for our eyes and ears.”