US Insights

US brands dominate through disruption

Elizabeth Wilner

US Editor

Brands 06.07.2016 / 23:00

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Of the 2016 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, the US claims 49, including the entire Top 10

It’s Google, Apple and Microsoft in first, second and third in the 2016 BrandZTM Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands. While Google and Apple continued their longtime duel for the top slot, with Google edging out 2015 leader Apple by a mere $1 billion in brand value and Microsoft remaining at #3, the real shake-up occurred among the rest of the top 10.

AT&T is now the world’s fourth most valuable brand, up from #6 in 2015 thanks to 20% year-over-year growth in brand value. Facebook shot from #12 to #5 this year on 44% growth in brand value. Amazon likewise climbed from #14 to #6 after seeing growth of 55%, making it the fastest riser in the rankings.

The rise of this trio of brands helped dislodge IBM from #4 in 2015 to #10 this year, and nudge Visa and Verizon down one notch apiece to #6 and #8, respectively. IBM, Visa and Verizon saw either single-digit growth or, in IBM’s case, single-digit decline in their brand value since 2015, allowing AT&T, Facebook and Amazon to surge past them. McDonald’s remains at #9.

Download the Top 100 chart below.

US domination. In addition to claiming all Top 10 brands, the US also is home to nearly half - 49 - of the Top 100 as well as 14 of the Top 20 Tech brands. The US also has outgrown all other countries or regions studied, up 10% in total US-based brand value this year and up 213% since the first rankings were conducted in 2006. The BrandZTM Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands are compiled annually by Kantar Millward Brown and Kantar parent WPP.

US-led disruption. The 2016 data and analysis depict a stable year for the world’s most powerful brands in the face of global financial pressures, including the economic slowdown in China. The total brand value held by the Top 100 rose 3% year over year to hit $3.4 trillion.

Amidst this overall stability, disruption was the dominant trend, with brands changing the status quo through their offerings and often beyond the use of technology. Google edged past Apple on the basis of continual innovation, higher ad revenue, and growth in its cloud business. Amazon and Facebook, on the other hand, began building multi-faceted ecosystems around their consumers’ needs and wants, including by diversifying into new categories. Amazon built its own logistics network using independent contractors, which enabled it to offer flexible and one-hour delivery options, and started producing its own content. Facebook began hosting publishers’ original content to keep members active.

Another disruptor, Starbucks (#21 with 49% growth), moved into the ecommerce space with a “tap and go” app and extended its relevance through enhanced cold beverage and food offerings plus beer and wine.

“The brands that thrive, regardless of sector, are those that behave like challengers and adopt disruptor models and mindsets,” said David Roth, CEO EMEA and Asia, The Store WPP. “The power these brands already hold, combined with the strength of their platforms, is enabling them to quickly and successfully move across sectors.”

Disruption is a catalyst for value growth. The categories that increased in value were all either shaken up by challenger brands founded on a unique and meaningful proposition, such as Victoria’s Secret and new entry Under Armour in the apparel category (up 14% overall), or innovated to a high degree in response to a new trend, such as the brands in the fast food category (up 11% overall) which successfully responded to global demand for healthier products.

Apparel is the fastest growing category, rising to $114 billion across all apparel brands in the Top 100. There is an emphasis on high performance, with brands including Nike (+26%) and Under Armour launching specialist premium lines, incorporating technology such as heart monitors into their clothing, and integrating sportswear with free apps to provide a total consumer experience.

Disruption extends to the ranking itself. Close to half (46) of the brands in the 2016 Top 100 entered the ranking after it was first launched in 2006; 54 have been there since the inaugural ranking. This shows how a strong brand can sustain its value over time, but also illustrates the potential that exists for new brands to successfully shake up the status quo.

Doreen Wang, Kantar Millward Brown’s Global Head of BrandZ, comments: “By stretching their brands in innovative ways and expanding into new categories, the strongest brands in the Top 100 are increasing their penetration and their relevance in people’s day-to-day lives.”

“There is a risk in doing this, however,” Wang adds. “It blurs the lines between categories and can leave brands struggling for identity. Defining and articulating a very clear positioning and purpose will play a more crucial part than ever in building a strong, distinct brand.”

Source: Kantar Millward Brown

Editor's Notes

The BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report and rankings, and a great deal more brand insight for key regions of the world and 14 market sectors, are available online here. A new suite of interactive smartphone and tablet applications is available for free download for Apple IOS and all Android devices from or search for BrandZ in the respective iTunes or Google Play app stores.

Download the Top 100 chart above. Journalists, to speak with the BrandZ team, contact us. Follow @Kantar and sign up for our insight alerts. 

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