Ecosystem brands help people sustain daily life routines during pandemic
BrandZ™ insights provide guidance for value growth in a changed world
In January 2020, not long after we began the process of developing this report, it seemed as if the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands would describe another year of healthy value growth with some brand and category fluctuations.
As we publish this report six months later, the word fluctuation doesn’t come close to describing the global upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that extracted a terrible human toll, isolated households in months-long quarantines, and curtailed most economic activity.
No brand could possibly be fully prepared for this level of devastation. But certain brands had already adjusted to the way people live today. And some of those brands had actually shaped the habits of modern life—the way we navigate our digitized daily routines on smart phones, checking in with friends, shopping, ordering takeout, hailing a car.
During the period when we were all locked down at home, ordering our groceries for delivery, sitting in front of our screens to work remotely or catch-up with friends and family, these brands were not simply useful, they became our indispensable lifelines. These brands are the powerful ecosystems that we’ve been talking for several years.
These ecosystems—and others like them—flourished because they were exactly what people needed. These brands have become gravity-less and borderless, acting like superheroes in their ability to move when and where they want. In part because of its ability to respond during the crisis, one of these brands, Amazon, became the No. 1 most valuable brand this year, surpassing Apple, another gravity-less brand.
Borderless and gravity-less
Critically, powerful brands can come from anywhere to challenge market share. Among the newcomers to the BrandZ™ Global Top 100 this year is TikTok, the short-format video app that originated in China and rapidly gained popularity worldwide. TikTok is able to monetize this enormous audience not only with advertising, but also with e-commerce links.
TikTok is now among 17 Chinese brands that make up the BrandZ™ Top 100, compared with only one Chinese brand when we launched the Top 100 in 2006. Among the other Chinese brands ranked in the Top 100 are Haier and Ping An. This report includes interviews with key C-Suite executives from both of these brands that have transformed from a category-specific focus into an ecosystem.
Founded as a home appliances manufacturer in China over 35 years ago, Haier has become a world leading Internet of Things ecosystem, combining products and services to improve the home. Ping An, which was established as an insurance brand in 1988, is now a financial services ecosystem in which insurance is one of many products and services it provides customers as their lifetime, one-stop partner for financial wellbeing.
Not every brand has the resources to move into new businesses and categories. Not every brand can move as adroitly as Amazon shifts from e-commerce to physical retail, Apple connects its devices with streaming content, and Haier and Ping An expand from core businesses into enormous ecosystems of products and services. But all brands have capacity to grew and renew.
As the BrandZ™ analysis in this report explains, Difference (standing out and setting trends) was the most determinative factor in whether brands increased or decreased in value year-on-year. Difference is also a critical factor enabling brands to command a premium. Two factors principally drove difference—the ability of a brand to be creative and innovative.
And, as revealed for the first time in this report, Difference also is a critical factor in predicting whether a company’s stock can overperform against market expectations. This finding emerged from a new research joint venture between BrandZ™ and the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.
As the world emerges from the shock of Covid-19, brands will need to find new ways that their products and services can be relevant to how we will live in a changed reality. That’s where we at Kantar can help, as the world’s leading data and insights consultancy, with 30,000 people working with Kantar worldwide.
We help define and build meaningfully different brands with our holistic brand guidance approach that combines innovations, experiences, creative content, and media investment to optimize investment and accelerate profitable growth.
Our BrandZ™ database includes information from over 3.7 million consumers about their attitudes (and relationships) with over 14,000 brands across 450 categories in more than 50 country markets. That’s 5 billion data points and counting...
Using the vast Kantar and BrandZ ™ reservoirs of intelligence, we can help you successfully navigate today’s uncertainty. I am available to personally discuss how we can help you and your brand succeed—building valuable brands that add value to people’s lives. Please feel free to contact me directly or contact any of our Kantar leaders listed in the Resources section at the end of this report.
Chief Executive Officer
Kantar, Insights Division