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GLOBAL 2016: Chinese and retail brands enter the Global Top 100

The seven brands that entered the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands this year illustrate several trends, including the impact of China and the strength of the retail category in this year’s ranking. Two of the newcomer brands are Chinese and a third accelerated its expansion in China; and three of the brands are retailers. The other two brands are from the technology and beer categories.
Moutai, a premium version of baijiu, China’s traditional white alcohol, rebounded from a sales slump that began two years ago when the Chinese government imposed restrictions on official gift giving as part of its anti-corruption campaign. Moutai lowered prices and expanded distribution to make the brand more accessible. Brand strength helped sustain the brand while the company developed and executed revised strategies.
The success of JD.com, China’s second largest e-commerce site, reflected the overall strength of online retailing and the particular strength of the JD.com brand. It successfully challenged Alibaba with more efficient distribution and social media effectiveness. Consumers that access JD.com through WeChat, the social networking site, can then text, shop, and pay without switching platforms. Insurance brand AIA, which serves 18 Asia-Pacific markets, increased its agent sales force in China and grew the value of new business in China by 45 percent.
Lowe’s and CVS, two U.S. retailers, benefited both from the strength of the U.S. retail market and also some clear brand strengths. Lowe’s partnered with Facebook and Snapchat to reach the next generation of DIYers. The brand also partnered with Microsoft in an initiative that enables shoppers to view kitchen remodel designs in 3-D, using the Microsoft HoloLens.
CVS, the U.S. drug store chain that stopped selling cigarettes two years ago, continued to strengthen its brand purpose as a health provider, allocating more of its retail space for urgent-care clinics and other medical treatment centers. CVS also partnered with the IBM Watson Health Cloud to collect and analyze customer medical data.
The entrance of Adobe into the BrandZ™ Global Top 100 shows that a business-to-business technology brand can exhibit the kind of rapid value growth usually associated with technology business-to-consumer brands. Adobe also confirms the argument for disrupting the market before the market disrupts the brand. A provider of creative tools for the marketing industry, Adobe shifted from a boxed software model to a cloud subscription model three years ago. The subscription business grew 55 percent in 2015.
Heineken entered the BrandZ™ Global Top 100 in a year of beer category consolidation, as the two largest global brewers, AB InBev and SAB Miller, prepared to merge. Heineken continued to be the number one imported beer in most of its 179 country markets, and it performed especially well in the developing markets of Africa and Southeast Asia.