Top 20 Risers
Fastest rising brands align with key trends
Risers leverage tech to provide customer-centric services, convenience
The Top 20 Risers, brands that increased in value by the greatest percentage year-on-year, illustrated a key finding of the BrandZ™ 2020 Global Top 100 report. The most successful brands aligned with how people today conduct both their personal and business lives. These brands provided high levels of customer-centric service and convenience while meeting concerns about health and sustainability.
Of the Top 20 Risers, 12 brands came from categories that most typify these trends: six brands came from technology and six from retail. Four of the other nine categories represented in the Top 20 Risers are technology-related, including: entertainment, lifestyle platform, cars, and payments. Technology was critical but less centric to the other three categories represented in the Top 20 Risers: alcohol, apparel, and personal care.
In addition, five of the Top 20 Risers are Chinese brands, which is significant for two reasons. First, digitization to achieve extreme convenience has achieved its most extreme expression in China. Second, they are among the record 17 Chinese brands in the 2020 BrandZ™ Global Top 100, reflecting a growing presence of Chinese brands across categories.
The Top Riser results suggest that technology, specifically digitization, will be a key driver of future brand growth. With the caveat that new products and services need to result not simply from new technological capabilities, but from insight in how technology can help improve peoples’ lives.
Technology and retail
Although technology was important to brand value growth overall, top-risers used technology in brand-specific ways. Instagram, which increased 47 percent in value, has emerged as an important platform for posting content for connection, sharing, and self-expression. Similarly, Tencent has become a platform with a vast array of apps used by people in China to navigate everyday life. Tencent’s revenue from gaming was also key to its value growth.
In contrast, the other technology top riser brands—LinkedIn, Microsoft, Adobe, and Intel—primarily created the tools, often cloud-based, that help people conduct their business lives in the online, off-premise way that became critical during the Covid-19 crisis. These brands have also created communities. Beyond its function as a jobs and professional networking site, for example, LinkedIn, provides business self-improvement tutorials.
Brands in the retail category share similar characteristics. Amazon and Alibaba are enormous technology-driven retail businesses and cloud computing providers. They have used technology to create communities that connect buyers and sellers worldwide. JD, similar if smaller in brand value, has used technology to create sophisticated logistics system and improve the online-offline customer experience with an extensive network of physical locations.
Meanwhile, Walmart and Target have managed to sustain their retail leadership by transforming their extensive networks of physical stores into critical shopping and distribution locations for modern online-offline retailing, making them vital during the Covid-19 crisis and positioning them well for the post-pandemic world. Costco, which relies primarily on its physical locations, experienced a spike in e-commerce during the height of the pandemic.
In the technology-related entertainment category, Netflix continued to grow its streaming service, particularly outside the US, and reached over 180 million subscribers worldwide. Covid-19 kept a lot of people binging on video, but it also challenged the ability of Netflix to create new content as most studios had shut down. Similarly, the need for interactive amusement and connecting with friends during the pandemic drove more people to Xbox.
Having launched in 2010 as a Groupon-like business in China, Meituan has evolved into a one-stop O2O super app that people use to navigate everyday life tasks, including booking travel, bike sharing, ride hailing, and event tickets. These services, and restaurant delivery, suffered during the Covid lockdown, but Meituan’s grocery delivery business experienced strong demand.
Mastercard was able to take advantage of the regulatory changes that opened up the Chinese market to foreign payments brands. Signaling a shift in payments technology, contactless transactions increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic as people attempted to limit contact with potentially infectious surfaces.
Tesla not only increased 22 percent in value, it was the only brand in the BrandZ™ Cars Top 10 to increase. While most of the car brands expected to introduce more electric models this year, Tesla was expanding into the mass market with the introduction of its more affordable Model 3. It also entered the world’s largest car market, China, where it will both produce and sell cars.
The key trends also touched the apparel and personal care categories, which increasingly rely on technology. Lululemon increased 47 percent on the strength of producing the comfortable apparel people desired. Its leggings and other attire were both fashionable and engineered for performance. The brand also benefited from a community it has created with courses offered both at physical stores and online.
Estée Lauder, the personal care brand, introduced several technological innovations to address needs of women who want to simplify their beauty regime. The brand also continued to gain popularity in China. The fastest rising brand, Moutai, is a traditional Chinese baijiu alcoholic drink that successfully expanded its reach while maintaining its premium price positioning.