The world’s most valuable brands have experienced record growth according to the Kantar BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands 2021 ranking, with the total worth reaching $7.1 trillion– equivalent to the combined GDP of France and Germany. This has been driven by confidence derived from vaccine availability, economic stimulus packages and improving GDP outlooks, the study said. US brands account for 56 of the Top 100 brands, with Amazon and Apple leading the way – each now worth over US $ ½ trillion.
Amazon maintained its position as the world’s most valuable brand, growing 64% to US$684 billion (or the equivalent GDP of Poland). Having first entered the BrandZ ranking in 2006, Amazon’s value grew by almost $268 billion this year and became the first half-a-trillion-dollar brand, joined by Apple, valued at $612 billion. Tesla is the fastest growing brand and became the most valuable car brand, growing its value by 275% year on year to $42.6 billion. Five brands more than doubled their brand values Pinduoduo, Meituan, Moutai and TikTok from China, and Tesla from the USA.
Overall growth has been fuelled by 69 brands increasing their value by at least 5% since 2020, together with 13 new entrants, including Zoom, Nvidia and AMD, and Spotify. Technology dominates the top end of the Kantar BrandZ ranking, with seven of the top ten brands coming from the tech sector. Tech has also enabled non-tech brands to achieve significant growth. The Top 10 brands are today valued at $3.3 trillion, compared to $800 billion in 2011.
US brands grew fastest in 2021 with their brand values growing an average 46% year-on-year, meaning the US now accounts for 74% of the Top 100’s total value, despite having just 24% of global GDP. China has consolidated its lead over Europe. Chinese brands have grown from 11% of the Top 100 value in 2011 to 14% today. European brands, in contrast, now represent 8% of the ranking’s value versus 20% in 2011.
“2020-21 has been a record year for brand growth, and despite many facing a difficult year, our research has again proven that strong brands deliver superior shareholder returns, are more resilient and recover more quickly,” Nathalie Burdet, CMO of Kantar, said. “With global ecommerce growing from 12% to 15% of all sales in 2020, it has been a positive year for brands involved in that value chain – from the retailers through to the couriers like FedEx and UPS. However, we have also seen growth in industries where many were predicting challenges early in the pandemic. Apparel brands for example have collectively grown even more than media and entertainment brands in the ranking, and luxury brands, despite reduced travel and lockdowns globally, have refocused their energies and seen growth as a result,” she added.
According to the study, as consumers spent more time at home during lockdown, the Kantar BrandZ Top 10 Media and Entertainment Brands experienced impressive growth (+50%). The technologies behind gaming, chip providers Nvidia and AMD, entered the ranking for the first time. The Media and Entertainment space was overtaken by the Apparel category with value growth of 53%, as people redefined the boundaries between work and leisure wear.
Furthermore, as more of the world turned to online shopping during the pandemic, the Top 20 retailers grew their brand value by a combined 48%. Beyond Amazon’s success, Chinese ecommerce brands showed strong growth; Alibaba, 7th in the global ranking consolidated its position as the second most valuable retail brand, and Pinduoduo was the fastest growing retail brand.
Subscription models have been a significant driver of success for many. Microsoft is one of the best examples of this (+26%) innovating offers to adapt to new working environments and transitioning to subscription models to improve convenience and scalability. Xbox (+55%), Disney (+13%) and Netflix (+55%) all saw growth, while Spotify entered the ranking following a 454% growth in subscribers from 2015-20 and a significant improvement in consumer brand equity.