HDFC Bank beat the crowds to top the list of 75 most valued brands in India, keeping its position intact from the previous year. At second and third spots, too, the old order held its grip. Public sector insurer Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and IT major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) retained their second and third ranks in the list of most valued Indian brands.
The big change, however, has been in the overall growth of brand values in the BrandZ 2019 Most Valuable Indian Brands, a report by WPP and Kantar Millward Brown. The total value of the top 75 brands increased to $228.2 billion, growing at a moderate 6 per cent over 2018, far slower than 34 per cent recorded the previous year. The report calculates valuations and ranking by combining companies’ financial data with consumer insight and opinion.
While brands grappled with many challenges this year, a few managed to push valuations up significantly. With a 34 per cent jump in brand valuations, Jio led the band of top risers, a diverse set of brands on the list. Preeti Reddy, CEO South Asia, Insights Division, Kantar, said, “They (Reliance Jio) have built an entire ecosystem around Jio which is feeding into each other and they continue to be disruptive.” Among the other brands that increased their valuations at a significant clip are Infosys, TCS, Maggi, Ola, and others.
HDFC Bank saw its brand value increases five per cent, growing slow but at a steady clip, to keep the top spot. “HDFC has utilised the digital ecosystem well and secondly they were very prudent about their business decisions. They are with the customers, walking with the times,” said Vishikh Talwar, chief client officer, Kantar Insights Division.
Banking brands make up the largest share of the BrandZ Top 75, with 23 per cent of the total brand value tied up in that sector. However, in comparison to other countries, where one category dominates the brand ranking (such as France with luxury goods,
US with technology, or Indonesia with banking), India’s top brands are much more evenly dispersed.
Consumer tech, retail are the fastest-growing categories with brand values increasing 30 per cent. Among the high performers in this category, Flipkart saw a sharp 14 per cent spike in its valuations while newcomers to the list, Oyo, Swiggy and Zomato also took a big leap forward. Vodafone was the top ranked newcomer to the list of most valued brands that saw eight new entries in 2019. This is much lower than the 30 newcomers that debuted the list in 2018.
According to the report brands need to be innovative in dealing with the challenges thrown up by the economy. Jio (Rank 9) is a brand that has read the market accurately, even taking its rank up a notch as compared to 2018. Talwar said that Jio did not stop at being the cheapest. “They kept their focus on expanding the base of their services and are almost trying to own the smartphone ecosystem,” he said. Smartphone user numbers in India increased by 18 per cent in 2018 (the fastest rate of growth in the world).
Jio's peer Airtel (Rank 4) lost 10 per cent in brand value, but it ranked above Jio and debutante Vodafone (Rank 24) on the list this year. “Vodafone is not exploiting the brand value that they actually have,” Reddy said.
Retail brands have been best able to leverage their equity in the present scenario, creating omnichannel platforms and focusing on what the report labels ‘middle India’. This is the growing number of people in second, third and fourth-tier towns that are changing India’s traditional urban-rural divide. Both Talwar and Reddy said the new band of consumers prefers brands that cater to local needs and improve their daily life. For brands keen to get on the list next year, the trick then is to go local and get personal.