Amazon, Walmart and Costco are among the big-name retailers atop the third annual BrandZ Top 75 Most Valuable Global Retail Brands ranking released April 30 by WPP and Kantar. Other, more pure-play grocers such as Aldi, Whole Foods Market, The Kroger Co. and Publix Super Markets also made the cut.
The report reveals that the value of the world's top 75 retail brands increased 12% to $1.5 trillion in the past year. Launched in conjunction with the World Retail Congress (WRC), it provides an indication of the brands that are most likely to prevail in a post-coronavirus market and uses valuations data incorporating stock price performance from April 2020 to reflect the impact of COVID-19, according to the authors. It also drives home the retail sector's pivotal role in the global economy as brands respond to shifts in consumer behavior while facing business-critical changes to supply and demand, and a restricted ability to trade.
BrandZ combines analysis of retailers' financial performance with the opinions of millions of consumers surveyed in more than 51 markets around the world. Historical BrandZ data confirms that brands with the strongest brand equity recovered nine times faster following the financial crisis of 2008.
"The coronavirus crisis underscores the essential role that retail plays in both our daily lives and the overall global economy; we are seeing some heroic examples of retail companies stepping up to meet consumer need and keep the world turning,” said David Roth, CEO of The Store WPP EMEA and Asia, and chairman of BrandZ. “While this is a fast-moving and ongoing story, the report allows us to show the businesses that, having invested in becoming a strong brand, are potentially better able to withstand the current shock. Twenty-two years of BrandZ data analysis consistently confirms that strong brands help their businesses to survive turbulent times."
The theme of “brand investment” recurs throughout the report as the authors note that smart retailers are resisting the temptation to cut back on advertising investment, learning lessons from China, where brands that "went dark" are struggling to reconnect during the early stages of recovery as consumers opt for those that actively demonstrated support. Marketing is being adapted, of course, as people are confined to staying indoors, but the tone is being adjusted, along with the media mix.
"Brand value isn't just determined by financial performance, but also by reputation in the eyes of consumers. How retailers behave now in terms of helping people through the crisis, as well as the way in which they treat their staff, and whether they comply with government and health advice, will be important to their survival,” said Graham Staplehurst, global strategy director for BrandZ at Kantar. “Those that have actively demonstrated their relevance and usefulness, and continue to do so as consumers' lives start to get back to normal, will be best placed to strengthen customer relationships both in the recovery phase and the long term."
Other highlights of the BrandZ Retail Brands ranking include:
The strongest got stronger: The Top 10 brands in the ranking outpaced the rest of the sector, posting an average rise in brand value of 16.4%. Amazon's growth sees it account for 27% of the Top 75's total brand value, while robust performances by other Top 10 brands, such as Alibaba, show that strong brands can do more than get by; they can redefine what's possible.
Sector leaders continued to dominate: McDonald's (No. 3, $129.3 billion) is by far the most valuable quick serve food brand in the world, although others enjoyed rapid growth, thanks largely to delivery and other service innovations such as AI-powered suggestions at drive-thrus and delivery partnerships behind incremental orders. Louis Vuitton is the most valuable luxury brand, with a new global flagship store in Seoul and creative partnerships with major artists, while Nike (No. 6, $50 billion) leads the apparel category with e-commerce, product customization and collaborations driving strong sales.
Five new entrants: Three Japanese brands made their debut in this year's ranking: online fashion store Zozotown (No. 52, $4.5 billion); retail network Aeon (No. 64, $2.9 billion); and convenience story company Family Mart (No. 75, $2.4 billion). Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo (No. 26, $9.4 billion) is the highest new entry, following the success of its online group-buying model; Bunnings hardware chain (No. 69, $2.7 billion), from Australia, is the fourth new entry.
The Top 75 Most Valuable Global Retail Brands was due to be launched at the 2020 WRC, originally scheduled for April 28, but now taking place Oct. 28-30. BrandZ said that it continues to partner with WRC, with which it launched the retail report via a bespoke digital experience.