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Brand building initiatives, market dynamism drive record increase in value

Brand building initiatives, market dynamism drive record increase in value

Five-year anniversary ranking

adds insights for future growth

Timing is everything.

That sentiment opened this column five years ago when I welcomed readers to our first annual BrandZ™ India ranking, launched just months after the country elected a new government. Conditions in India were ripe for building and sustaining valuable brands, and we promised to provide the knowledge and insight required to help brands grow in this rapidly changing country.

In retrospect, our assessment of change and brand-building possibilities was conservative. Rapid digitization, lower prices for data consumption, and affordable mobile phones have democratized access to information. Striving for a better life, more people—rich and poor, urban and rural—have embraced brands: local Indian brands, multinational brands, and new arrivals.

Change has brought new challenges, of course. How could it not, especially in a country as vast and complicated as India, with over 1.3 billion inhabitants. In last year’s report we discussed the impact on brands of tax reform and demonetization—the effort to accelerate the transition away from hard currency to an economy based around digital financial transactions. This year we watched those disruptions fade in the rearview mirror.

In 2018, the value of BrandZ™ Indian Top 50 Most Valuable brands increased 34 percent, the greatest year-on-year growth since the launch of the ranking in 2014. Over that five-year period the value of the BrandZ™ India Top 50 more than doubled, while the BrandZ™ Global Top 50 rose 60 percent and the China Top 50 rose 76 percent. These results are based on the eligibility criteria that have been in place for five years.

For this fifth anniversary of the BrandZ™ India report we’ve revised the criteria and expanded the ranking to become the BrandZ™ India Top 75. The expanded ranking keeps pace with the changes in India and keeps the promise I made five years ago—to chart India’s rapidly changing brand landscape and provide insights necessary for building valuable brands.

Once again, timing is everything

Five years ago, many India start-ups were gaining traction and the service sector was growing in importance. Today, our comprehensive picture of India’s brand landscape includes important unicorn brands and business-to-business leaders. We’ve added 30 Newcomers to the ranking, and seven of them are in the Top 15, including the payment system Paytm and flipkart, the e-commerce leader.

Flipkart illustrates the pace of change. Flipkart launched in 2007, the same year Walmart entered India with a local wholesaler partner to comply with regulations limiting the activities of global retailers. Five years ago, Amazon had just arrived. Today, Flipkart and Amazon are battling for e-commerce dominance and Flipkart has accepted Walmart’s bid to acquire a majority stake.

If Indian regulators approve the deal, India will become a hotly contested market where two of the world’s largest retailers go head-to-head. It is not only the size of the Indian market today that is attracting these giants and other brands, but also the market’s potential to constantly create thousands of new consumers searching for products and services that will improve their lives.

This potential is everything its seems to be—but, in some ways, it is also different from what it seems to be. Understanding the nuances is a central challenge for all brands now present in India or planning to enter the market. Our BrandZ™ research discovered new insights to help brands find opportunities and avoid pitfalls. For example:

  • Difference BrandZ identifies Difference, being distinctive, as an important driver of brand equity in all parts of the world. But Indian consumers can be skeptical of Difference for the sake of being different. They seek useful, relevant, life-improving innovations.

  • Trust Trust generally results from positive experiences with a brand over time. The importance of trust is amplified in India. And many newer brands have already reached levels of trust that that took some of India’s oldest brands decades to achieve.

  • Premiumization Premiumization is now the clearest path to brand value growth. Around two-thirds of the brands in the BrandZ 2018 India ranking score high in the BrandZ Premium metric. Only around half the brands in the 2014 ranking scored high in Premium.

One factor that remains reliably consistent across all country markets, including India, is the ability of valuable brands to deliver superior shareholders returns. Over the past five years, a stock portfolio of the BrandZ™ India Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands increased 39.2 percent in value, while India’s SENSEX, an index of 30 stocks on the Bombay Stock Exchange, increased only 21.4 percent. As these results indicate, investing in brands is an investment, not a cost.

To learn more about the extensive BrandZ™ year-on-year and five-year analysis and brand implications, please turn to Part 2 and Part 5 of the report. For on-the-ground perspective, turn to Part 3, and the comments from C-Suite executives at three of India’s leading brands—HDFC Bank, Maruti Suzuki, and Hindustan Unilever.

In Part 4 and Part 6 of the report gain cutting-edge insights from our colleagues, the brand experts from the WPP companies across India. They examine the importance of trust in India today, including the impact of technology on trust, the challenges of managing consumer trust, and the special challenges of cultivating trust among young people.

How we can help

Our Brand™ enterprise has grown dramatically over the past five years, since we added the India Top 50 to our library of BrandZ™ country reports which, at the time, included only our BrandZ™ Global Top 100, along with our China Top 100 and Latin America Top 50. I invite you to access our current extensive library of BrandZ™ reports with our compliments at Along with the BrandZ™ Top 70 Most Valuable Indian Brands, here are just some of the reports you will find there:

We have the data, knowledge, experience, insight, determination, and single-minded purpose to help you create and build valuable brands. We operate over 3,000 offices in 113 countries. WPP’s proprietary BrandZ™ database and brand building platform includes information from 3.6 million consumers regarding their attitudes about (and relationships with) 122,000 brands in around 420 categories across over 50 country markets. All that produces more than 5.1 billion data points.

To learn more about how to harness our passion to work for your brand, please contact any of the WPP companies that contributed expertise to this report. Turn to the Resources section at the end of this report for summaries of each company and the contact details of key executives. Or feel free to contact me directly.

When I started thinking about creating the BrandZ™ Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands, some six years ago, I was guided by the wisdom of Ranjan Kapoor, WPP India Country Manager and icon of the Indian advertising industry. Ranjan’s help in the planning stages of this project was invaluable in making it a reality. Over the years, Ranjan’s ongoing support, friendship, and razor-sharp observations made the project better.

I was deeply saddened by Ranjan’s sudden death this year. BrandZ™ India has lost both a friend and a wise advisor. Ranjan was excited that we are expanding the number of brands in the India ranking this year. With gratitude for his guidance and pride in what he helped us accomplish, I dedicate our fifth anniversary edition of the BrandZ™ India report to Ranjan’s memory.


David Roth


Twitter: davidrothlondon