Biggest brands: Top 100 global brands by value 2009

Google is the world's first $100bn brand
Google is the world's first $100bn brand

We reveal the results of the 2009 BrandZ survey, which expresses in financial terms the strength of thousands of brands in 443 categories and in 30 countries.

The economy may be in freefall and advertising forecasts bleak, but this year's Millward Brown Optimor BrandZ survey reveals the world's first $100bn brand - Google.

While this news may be of little surprise and will provide cold comfort to struggling broadcasters (famously, the brand has never advertised on TV), the research does, however, underline the enduring power of strong brands. It also serves as a timely reminder that pulling back marketing support may well provide a quick fix to a company's bottom line, but is often to the long-term detriment of the business.

Despite the turbulence in the global economy, the value of the top 100 brands has risen by 2% in the past year to $1.95tn. A total of 85 of the top 100 brands remain in the table from last year. By category, the biggest faller was insurance (-48%) followed by cars (-22%) and financial institutions (-11%). On the flip side, mobile operators experienced the biggest growth in brand value (+28%), followed by soft drinks (+24%) and coffee (+18%).

There are also reasons to be cheerful in the UK, which is outperforming the broader market. The value of the top 10 UK brands has grown by 11% over the past year, compared with a 2% rise for all global brands. UK brands also account for half the growth in the global mobile category - the strongest brand category in the world. Vodafone and O2 together account for more than a quarter of that category-wide growth.

The recession is clearly not having a negative impact across all brands and categories; one of the big positive trends is the growth in popularity of activities undertaken at home that traditionally would have been done elsewhere. The ease and convenience of online shopping, for example, has been the driving force behind brands such as Amazon (+85%) and eBay (+16%).

Similarly, the value of coffee brands has risen as consumers ditch their costly skinny latte fixes on the go, choosing to indulge at home instead. Nescafe (+23%) and Nespresso (+27%), the coffee-pod brand fronted by George Clooney, have both benefited from this trend. A similar shift can also be seen in the personal care category, with dental brands in particular doing well as consumers look to save money by avoiding potentially costly trips to the dentist.

Elsewhere, while many commentators have heralded the recession as a wake-up call for consumers living in debt, Visa entered the rankings for the first time at number 36. The biggest climber is, surprisingly, a bank. China Merchants Bank increased in value by 168% this year. Additionally, despite the constant stream of bad news, consumers continue to be addicted to their Black-Berrys - the brand posted the biggest percentage rise in value on 2008, doubling in its total.

Discount brands have also made inroads to the rankings, and discount retailer Aldi has made its first appearance in the top 100 with a 49% increase in brand value. Lower-priced clothing brands have also fared well, with H&M experiencing a growth in brand value of 8% on the back of some impressive designer collaborations.

However, there is little doubt that the  pervasive gloom of the financial markets is having a bearing on consumers' purchasing habits. While the decline in sales of organic food has been well documented, consumers are rewarding themselves with treats such as fast food, cigarettes and alcohol. In line with this, McDonald's (+34%), Marlboro (+33%) Budweiser (+23%) and Johnnie Walker (+42%) all experienced solid growth. Peter Walshe, director of BrandZ, says: 'McDonald's is a brand that people kept writing off, but it has kept its brand values while vastly improving the experience, and this has been key to its success.'

As ever, consumers' purchasing decisions remain contradictory, and an interest in health and personal wellbeing also continues to be a strong trend. For example, Bud Light overtook its full-calorie stablemate to become the number-one beer brand. Moreover, while McDonald's famously never reveals sales figures for its salad items, its continued focus on menu innovation is seen by many as key to its revitalisation.

Elsewhere, the financial sector returned some interesting data, notably that consumer sentiment is remarkably similar year on year, despite the ravages of the global recession and growing distaste over the size of bankers' bonuses. As a sector, financial institutions declined 11% year on year. 'I suspect most consumers divorce their own relationships and dealings with their banks from the broader economy,' says Walshe.

For an industry facing up to claims that the economic downturn may not be cyclical, but a long-term 'correction' of the over-inflated advertising market, the latest BrandZ data provides welcome reading. It is well established that in times of turbu-lence consumers turn to brands they trust, and it is vital that recognition of this extends to the boardroom.

Brand valuations: What's in it for marketers?

When times are tough, companies that invest in their brands can protect their businesses and help them grow. The rankings prove that strong brands continue to outperform weaker ones in terms of both market share and share price. 'That brands have held up better than any other part of the business shows the power of investing in them,' says Peter Walshe, director of BrandZ.

The research shows brands are a valuable asset and, crucially, expresses the success of branding in financial terms that carry weight with non-marketers in the boardroom. Strong brands create competitive advantages by reducing business risk, lowering the cost of entry into new categories, boosting staff retention and  assisting with licensing in other territories.

What makes a strong brand?

A simple way to think about the brand relationship is to imagine it as the progression of a love story, from dating through to bonding. Millward Brown Optimor identifies five stages in the brand/consumer relationship.

  • Presence those who are aware of the brand
  • Relevance those who do not reject the brand for being too expensive or cheap
  • or for not meeting their needs
  • Performance those who do not find the brand lacking in their experience of it
  • Advantage those who believe the brand
  • to be better in some way than its rivals
  • Bonding those who find the brand has more advantages than other brands

Methodology

BrandZ is the world's biggest study into what people think about the brands they buy. The brand ranking uses data from BrandZ (a WPP-commissioned database of 443 categories in 30 countries, covering thousands of brands).

For the purpose of its BrandZ ranking, Millward Brown Optimor values brands in three steps.

First, it establishes a company's intangible earnings and allocates them to individual brands and countries of operation, based on publicly available financial data from Bloomberg, Datamonitor (www.datamonitor.com) and Millward Brown Optimor's own research. 

Second, it determines the portion of intangible earnings attributable to brand alone, as opposed to other factors such as price. This uses research-based loyalty data from the BrandZ database.

Last, the research projects what the brand value will be in the future, based on market valuations, the brand's risk profile and its growth potential.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers