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Newcomers exemplify India’s evolving brand landscape


Newcomers exemplify India’s

evolving brand landscape

30 brands represent 17 categories

The 2018 BrandZ™ ranking of India’s most valuable brands includes 30 Newcomers, an unusually large number because of the expansion of the ranking from the Top 50 to the Top 75 and revised eligibility criteria.

The expanded ranking illustrates the rapid brand growth India experienced between 2014 and 2018, and it enables this fifth anniversary edition of the BrandZ™ India Ranking to more comprehensively present India’s brand landscape today.

Most of the Newcomer brands are from the service sector, and for the first time the BrandZ™ India ranking now includes business-to-business brands, unicorns, privately owned brands, and Indian brands that are listed outside their home market. Both the B2B and the unicorns signify the entrepreneurial energy and breadth of the Indian economy. A growing list of over 10 unicorns operate in India.  

Indicating how brand activity percolated throughout India’s economy, the 30 Newcomer brands come from 17 categories. The most represented category is technology, with six brands. The technology brands (except, along with two bank brands and a courier brand, appear because of the inclusion of B2B brands.

The other categories represented are: insurance and home appliances, with three brands; and tobacco, alcohol, and personal care with two brands apiece. The tobacco category is new this year. Individual Newcomer brands appears from these categories: retail, payments, entertainment, transport, airlines, paints, telecom providers, travel agencies, and fast food.

Of the 30 Newcomer brands, 18 entered the ranking because of the revised eligibility criteria, which include these changes. (Please see Methodology in the Resources section for full details.)

  • The brand originated in India and its corporate parent is listed on a recognized stock exchange outside of India.

  • The brand is privately owned, but its complete financial statements are publicly available.

  • Indian unicorns have their most recent valuation publicly available.

  • Bank valuations include business-to-business activities.

Insurance brand growth

The inclusion of three insurance brands in the Newcomer ranking indicates the rising interest in insurance products—and the availability of government incentives—as more Indians consider the need to protect their increasing assets. One of the Newcomer brands, LIC, is government-owned and has penetrated deeply into rural areas, where people view insurance as less risky than other financial investments.

LIC joined the ranking because of the new criteria that widen eligibility to include not only publicly-traded brands, but also private brands whose financial results are publicly available. LIC ranks No. 2 in the 2018 India Top 75. Other Newcomer insurance brands are challenging LIC’s dominant market share.

The other two insurance Newcomers, HDFC Life and SBI Life, are eligible because they recently became listed. They were among insurers that turned to the stock market to raise capital when foreign investment failed to meet expectations, after the Indian government liberalized insurance regulations, two years ago, to allow up to a 49 percent ownership by a non-Indian company.

HDFC Life benefits from the consumer recognition of its corporate parent, financial conglomerate HDFC. The insurance brand gains a substantial portion of its sales from customers of the HFDC Bank, which operates around 5,000 branches throughout India. A significant investment in marketing and brand building also drives the growth of HDFC Life. Similarly, SBI Life is part of a bank and derives a significant portion of sales from bank customers.

Shelter and food

Several of the Newcomer categories and brands reflect India’s economic growth and changes in how middle-class Indians fill basic needs, shelter and food. Increased housing construction in part drives the consumer spending on home appliances, for example.

Some of the spending goes to standard large appliances like refrigerators, a specialty of the heritage brand Godrej, part of a private family conglomerate now included in the ranking because its financial results are publicly available.

The product ranges of the Havells and Crompton brands include small appliances, sometimes at the premium end of the market, intended so satisfy the middle-class consumer desire for state-of-the-art technical innovation and design. The paint brand Nerolac also reflects the growth of housing and interest in home decoration.

India’s middle-class, and the impact of millennials, drove the growth of the fast food sector, and especially Domino’s Pizza, which appealed to Indian consumers by catering to local tastes and providing both an enjoyable eating-out experience and rapid delivery.

Middle-class aspirations

Rising affluence and middle-class aspirations also propel brands in categories as diverse as travel agencies, airlines, entertainment, technology, and telecoms. Brands in these categories often illustrate not only India’s domestic growth, but also its widening international influence.

The online travel portal MakeMy Trip began in the US 18 years ago to serve people traveling between India and the US, and the brand soon established in India. Today it operates several other

 online travel brands, including and To drive traffic to those brands, MakeMy Trip recently formed a strategic partnership with Flipkart.

Traded on the New York Stock Exchange, MakeMy Trip became eligible for the ranking because, like it is a local Indian brand whose corporate parent is listed on an overseas exchange. Air India, the country’s national airline, entered the ranking this year because the brand’s financial information is publicly available, although the brand is not publicly traded.

Twenty-five years after its launch as a Hindi language satellite channel, Zee TV has become an entertainment brand that reaches a diverse Indian audience with content in multiple regional languages, and another 570 million people outside of India with content in local languages.

Fundamental to fulfilling middle class aspirations is finding the right job, which drives the growth of the technology brand,, an online job search site. The government-owned telecom provider BNSL competes in one of India’s most competitive, price-driven categories. To remain relevant to consumers, BNSL, like most telecoms, offers low-price voice and data plans.  It qualifies for the ranking because its financial results are publicly available.

Personal care, alcohol, and tobacco

Two well-known personal care leaders—Gillette and Parachute, a hair care brand—joined the BrandZ™ India Top 75 because of the increased interest in grooming, driven in part by younger customers and the desire to appear competitive in the workplace.

Two of India’s best-selling whiskeys—Royal Stag and Imperial Blue—joined the ranking this year on the strength of their results and the change in ranking criteria. The French producer Pernod Ricard, listed on an overseas stock exchange, owns both Indian brands.

Alcohol sales have rebounded, following two disruptions: the impact of demonetization in 2016, when the government removed certain currency from the market to accelerate the transition to digital payments; and an Indian Supreme Court ruling that prohibited sales of liquor along highways. Two tobacco brands, Gold Flake and Wills, appear as Newcomers because the tobacco category was added to the BrandZ™ India ranking this year.