Is Britain turning into a nation of gamblers driven by speed, ease and convenience? Kantar Millward Brown’s newly-expanded BrandZ Top 75 most valuable UK brands certainly seems to suggest just that – with the 25 new entrants dominated by online retailers, food and drink services and betting sites.
While the top end of the ranking remains stable – led by Vodafone, HSBC, Shell, BT and Sky – players such as Just Eat (30), Ocado (49), BrewDog (65), National Lottery (37) and Bet365 (44) are beginning to disrupt the status quo – indicative of a change in social behaviours and a sign of things to come.
“When we look at the new entries, the vast majority reflect almost where our society is going,” explains Peter Walshe, BrandZ global strategy director at Kantar Millward Brown.
“It’s fascinating because you see a lot of online stuff, the way convenience food eating and drinking is really taking off. You’ve got a lot of betting brands in there – again, a reflection of our entertainment and the way in which we’re watching television and betting on our phones. Because we’ve expanded the 50 to 75 it gives us a real insight as to what is bubbling under.”
Just Eat’s UK marketing director Ben Carter, says a combination of building engagement, becoming famous nationwide and activations that “add a sprinkling of Just Eat magic” have been integral to growing the brand.
We’ve always believed that it doesn’t matter one iota how you value your brand; it only matters how your customers or potential customers value it.
Sarah Warman, BrewDog
It has also been experimenting with virtual and augmented reality over the past couple of years, as well as trialling self-driving delivery robots, which shows it is innovating to make the lives of consumers easier through technology – a key driver of growth for the most valuable global brands.
“For us to become the food app, we’ve created a community to champion customers, restaurants and the vibrant takeaway sector,” Carter says. “We’ve built our business in having the widest choice available on our platform. That’s how we’ve built our brand too.”
Other new entrants in the top 75 include Deliveroo (64), Comparethemarket.com (46), John Lewis (56), Very (58) and Ladbrokes (70).
Top risers and biggest losers
The top three fastest growing UK brands are life insurance company Prudential (40%), Dyson (31%) and Asos (31%) – with the top 10 risers together worth as much as the remaining 65.
They are perceived to be healthier and more innovative brands, scoring better than the others on metrics such as purpose, experience, brand love, ‘shaking things up’ and ‘leading the way’.
Being exposed to overseas markets is another key factor, meaning the most successful brands in future will have thought about growth beyond the UK borders once Brexit happens.
Whisky brand Johnnie Walker, the sixth-fastest riser, has the highest proportion of branded overseas exposure, while Vodafone – which has held the top spot as the most valuable UK brand since 2006 – delivers the greatest actual number of dollars of overseas branded revenue.
“The one thing the top risers share in common is their growth engine is not in the UK anymore,” explains Elspeth Cheung, global BrandZ valuation director at Kantar Millward Brown.
“For Prudential, Dyson and Asos, the growth engine is in the US and Asia. So actually we don’t really have to just rely on our EU partners to grow, there are a lot of opportunities to succeed beyond the EU region.”
If you’ve got a purpose you’ve got an advantage.
Peter Walshe, Millward Brown
Over the next 12 months it will be interesting to watch the growth in value of Costa – a new entrant at number 60 – following the recent acquisition by Coca-Cola. Costa’s footprint outside of the UK is currently relatively small, however the takeover will no doubt boost its expansion and grow the overall value of the Costa brand – both in the UK and internationally.
At the other end of the spectrum, the brands that have seen their value decline the most year-on-year are British Gas (-14%), Co-op (-11%), Waitrose, ITV and Jaguar (all -10%).
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t valuable. ITV and British Gas, for example, are in challenging categories that are being disrupted by new players, while retailers like Co-op and Waitrose are saddled with legacy infrastructures that are yet to catch up with digital pure-plays such as Ocado.
Meanwhile, car brands are generally perceived to be lacking in innovation with the electrification of vehicles and promise of Tesla; however Land Rover, Jaguar and Mini, while they are all now foreign-owned, continue to be incredibly valuable British exports.
Difference and purpose
Most brands want to be seen as having ‘purpose’ nowadays – and now there is proof that it does add value to brands. Having a solid purpose that is fully engrained into the brand can add up to 9%, according to Kantar’s metrics, with the top scoring brands here including the BBC, Boots, Dove, Nationwide and Royal Mail.
However, while purpose it a significant driver of growth, it is not the biggest. Instead, the “real value magnifier” is communications, which increases the value of the top half of brands by 13%. British Airways, Dulux, Lloyds, Marks & Spencer and Sky are perceived to communicate their messages well.
“If you’ve got a purpose you’ve got an advantage,” Walshe says. “If you’ve got a perception that is clear and sticks to your brand as opposed to other brands, you’re therefore different in a way that is understandable and meaningful to consumers.”
One such brand is BrewDog. And the proof is in the can, with the Scottish craft beer brand over-indexing massively on every metric score.
Take purpose, for example, where the average is 91 and BrewDog scores 121. Or innovation and communications, where BrewDog scores 130 for each compared with other brands’ mid-90s averages. It gets 137 on being ‘meaningfully different’ against an average of 81.
Just Eat also scores 137, while Dyson sweeps the floor with 155.
“We’ve always believed that it doesn’t matter one iota how you value your brand; it only matters how your customers or potential customers value it,” says Sarah Warman, BrewDog’s vice-president of brand strategy.
“Our mission has always been crystal clear, to make other people as passionate about craft beer as we are. That’s why we launched Equity for Punks, our pioneering crowdfunding programme that means our business is owned and valued by our customers. The very people who love our beers, our business and our culture, so much so they’re actively invested in being a part of our future.
“We’re obsessed with two things; our beer and our people. Our commitment to both will always drive us to come up with new ideas and continue the craft beer revolution to bring great beer to more people across the planet.”
UK versus the rest of the world
Compared to the global rankings, it is clear the UK’s online innovation market is still very underdeveloped. While brands like Just Eat are coming in, the UK lacks any real strong technology-driven brands that are disrupting established categories.
Similarly, there are no fast drivers in retail, which in the global league has seen the likes of Chinese behemoths Alibaba and JD.com grow incredibly quickly.
“The UK has a lot of online-only brands which we don’t see in France, Germany, Spain or Italy, so we do have the capability to do it, it’s just how we can bring it to a much bigger scale,” Cheung says. “This is something UK brands will need to think about.”
Also, when looking at UK brands’ growth over the past year compared to other markets it is far slower. This year’s top 50 UK brands have grown 5% collectively compared to the top 50 from 2017. This compares with 34% in India, 23% in China and 13% in Indonesia, which the growth rate globally is 21%.
While next year’s rankings will likely welcome a host of new digital pure-plays and see existing ones grow in value, there is good news for more traditional brands, Walshe says, because “what they are pretty good at is communicating and marketing themselves and offering great service and delivery”.
He concludes: “Once you get into that big mindshare in consumers’ heads and it’s based on something that appears to be the best, is differentiated and relevant to them, it’s really hard to chuck you out. That’s the power of brand.”