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New WPP BrandZ Top 100 survey shows it’s women on top in the fastest-growing companies

Yes it does, really. BrandZ is WPP and research company Millward Brown’s annual study of the world’s biggest brands, combining financial info and consumer reports. This year’s study shows that 77 per cent of the top 100 have women in the boardroom, the average value of these brands is $27bn (double the men only amount) and their five-year growth rate is 66 per cent compared to a measly six per cent for men only companies.

Here are BrandZ’s own edited highlights.

The world’s biggest brands have continued to grow in value during the current economic uncertainty, according to WPP company Millward Brown’s annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands study. The No 1 brand for the second year, Apple, rose 19 per cent in value and is now worth $182.9bn. IBM grew 15 per cent to $115.9bn and overtook Google, which dropped to third place in the ranking and is now worth $107.8bn. In advance of its IPO, eight year-old Facebook rose 74 per cent in value, making it the fastest brand value riser in the ranking. Worth $33.2bn, the social network moved up to No 19 from No 35.

The study, commissioned by WPP and conducted by Millward Brown Optimor and now in its seventh year, identifies and ranks the world’s most valuable brands by their dollar value, an analysis based on financial data, market intelligence and consumer measures of brand equity.

The 2012 survey claims it shows the power of strong brands as both a driver of new business growth and a critical support in hard times. Between 2006 and 2012, the total value of the BrandZ Top 100 rose 66 per cent and is now worth $2.4 trillion.

“Brands are an insurance policy for businesses,” says Eileen Campbell, Global CEO of brand research company Millward Brown. “Despite a prolonged period of economic stress, political uncertainty and natural disasters that buffeted brands across many categories, the value of the world’s leading brands keeps rising across many categories, sustaining and nurturing businesses.”

BrandZ’ Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands 2012 (last year in brackets) were 1 (1) Apple $182.9bn, 2 (3) IBM $115.9bn, 3 (2) Google $107.8bn, 4 (4) McDonald’s $95.1bn, 5 (5) Microsoft $76.6bn, 6 (6) Coca-Cola $74.2bn, 7 (8) Marlboro $73.6bn, 8 (7) AT&T $68.8bn, 9 (13) Verizon $49.1bn, 10 (9) China Mobile $47bn.

David Roth of WPP says “Brands help businesses create competitive differentiation, command a price premium and become more resilient to crises or economic turbulence. This year, those businesses that leveraged technology, focused on the customer experience or boosted control of their brands thrived.

“Apple continues to innovate and maintain its ‘luxury’ brand status, but faces future competition from Samsung. Now worth more than $14.1bn, thanks in part to the success of its Galaxy handsets, Samsung is successfully outpacing Apple in a significant number of markets by positioning as a cool, well-priced alternative to the ubiquitous iPhone.”

Key findings highlighted in this year’s research report include:

Technology Prevails: Technology has become ubiquitous in all areas of life. Seven of the top ten brands are technology or telecoms brands. However, the power of smart, simple-to-use technology can also be seen beyond these two sectors. In other categories – cars, financial services, luxury and retail for example – brands are gaining significant advantages by using smart technology to enhance their customer experience. For example, Burberry – up 21 per cent to $4bn. – created a virtual world where younger brand followers can view fashion shows and more.

The Rise of Africa: This year’s ranking highlights the progress of Africa’s economic development with the arrival of the first African brand in the Top 100 – South African mobile company MTN – No 88 at $9.2bn. But it’s not just African brands that are thriving south of the Sahara. Around 40 per cent of Guinness’s sales come from Africa, Airtel’s third quarter results showed a 16 per cent increase in revenue in Africa. Similarly Orange enjoyed rapid growth in Africa in 2011, while Walmart invested there with the acquisition of Massmart.

The Future is Mobile: The future of the internet will be predominantly mobile rather than computer based. Mobile, to some extent, has been shielded from the recession as one of the few items consumers don’t want to give up or cut back on. The most valuable telecoms brand is AT&T worth $68.8bn. The USA’s largest mobile service provider, Verizon, increased its brand value by 15 per cent in the last year and is now worth $49.1bn.

Retail: Constructing an ‘omnichannel’ business: The customer experience is a new focus for many retailers as they recognise its importance in keeping customers loyal and the need to be present anywhere and everywhere on the path to purchase. Walmart knocked Amazon from the top position and its brand is now worth $34.4bn whilst Amazon is now worth $34bn.

Brands with Women on the Board Outperform: As the number of women on corporate boards continues to rise, the study this year reveals the success that women bring to brands. 77 per cent of the brands appearing in the BrandZ[Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands have women in the boardroom. The average value of brands with women on the boards is $27 billion, double that of those companies without female directors. Not only that, these brands also show an average five-year growth of 66 per cent compared to an average growth of only six per cent for those BrandZ Top100 brands that don’t have a woman on the board.

Strong Brands Provide Better Shareholder Value: An analysis of BrandZ Top 100 as a ‘stock portfolio’ over the last seven years shows a highly favourable performance compared to a current stock market index, the S&P500. While the total return on investment (ROI) for all companies in the S&P500 index was just 2.3 per cent, the BrandZ Portfolio provided a 36.3 per cent ROI, proving that companies with strong brands are able to deliver better value to their shareholders.

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