Kantar BrandZ™ Most Valuable Global Brands 2021 Ranking

Economic optimism drives brand values to record levels
Kantar BrandZ Head Picture
Martin Guo 2015

Editor in Chief, Kantar China Insights, China

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The world’s most valuable brands have experienced record growth according to the Kantar BrandZTM Most Valuable Global Brands 2021 ranking, with the total worth reaching $7.1 trillion – equivalent to the combined GDP of France and Germany. The 42% increase; more than four times the study’s annual average percentage increase over the past 15 years, has been driven by confidence derived from vaccine availability, economic stimulus packages and improving GDP outlooks. US brands account for 56 of the Top 100 brands, with Amazon and Apple leading the way – each now worth over US$½ trillion.

Altogether 18 brands from China1 made the cut into the ranking, making China the second most represented country after US and extending its lead over Europe. Both Tencent and Alibaba strengthened their positions in the global Top 10. Tencent also became a member of the world’s Top 5 most valuable brands with a significant annual brand value increase of 60%. Moutai became the world’s most valuable alcohol brand with its value more than four times that of Budweiser, the second highest in the category.

Key trends highlighted in this year’s Kantar BrandZ™ Most Valuable Global Brands study include:
Amazon maintained its position as the world’s most valuable brand, growing 64% to US$684bn (or the equivalent GDP of Poland). Having first entered the BrandZ ranking in 2006, Amazon’s value grew by almost $268bn this year and became the first half-a-trillion-dollar brand, joined by Apple, valued at $612bn.
Tesla is the fastest growing brand and became the most valuable car brand, growing its value by 275% year-on-year to $42.6bn.
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, for example Gucci - harnessing the power of TikTok during the pandemic, and Domino’s – leveraging online and delivery services. 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.

Kantar BrandZTM is the global currency when assessing brand value, quantifying the contribution of brands to business’ financial performance. Kantar’s annual global and local brand valuation rankings combine rigorously analysed financial data, with extensive brand equity research. Since 1998, BrandZTM has shared brand-building insights with business leaders based on interviews with 4 million consumers, for 18,000 brands in 51 markets. 


The number of Chinese brands on the ranking hit 18, including new entrant Pinduoduo and Ke. Out of the 15 brands that were on Global Top 100 last year, 13 managed to grow their brand value, and eight moved up their position in the ranking. Chinese brands are exceptionally strong in speed of value growth. On the ranking, there are five brands more than doubled their brand value. Besides Tesla, the rest are either from China or owned by a Chinese company: Pinduoduo, Meituan, Moutai and TikTok.

Doreen Wang, Kantar Greater China President & Global Chair of Kantar BrandZTM, says: “Chinese brands underwent an exceptionally challenging year in 2020, but they still achieved robust growth and are becoming an increasingly important force on the global stage. On the one hand, it is because Chinese economy has stabilized and returned to growth, injecting new optimism into Chinese consumers. Chinese brands are good at adapting themselves to serve changing consumer needs, and were rewarded by more love and higher loyalty. On the other hand, after China entered a new phase of development, more Chinese companies understand they need to evolve from China speed to China quality, from Chinese Product to Chinese Brands. So they never stopped investing in brand building even in the darkest moment.” 

She continued: “Also in last year, many Chinese brands didn’t quit their journey of going global. One of Kantar’s top priorities is to build great, resilient and truly powerful global brands for Chinese companies. The year of 2020 was like a year-end examination on the journey of building a great global brand, and many Chinese brands passed it with flying colors.”

Nathalie Burdet, CMO of Kantar, comments: “2020-1 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. 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."

She added: "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.”

Across industries, brands have been rewarded for meeting consumers’ changing needs and behaviours:
As consumers spent more time at home during lockdown, the Kantar BrandZTM 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. This was driven by athleisure, with Adidas, Nike, Puma and Lululemon all securing 50%+ value growth. Whilst, collectively, fast fashion did not grow as fast, although, notably, Uniqlo (+88%) and H&M (+47%) grew valuations significantly.
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, #7 in the global ranking consolidated its position as the second most valuable retail brand, and Pinduoduo was the fastest growing retail brand. The ecommerce giants are not the only retail winners: The Home Depot saw 22% value growth thanks to online sales growth of 86%2, while Walmart grew its value by 30% and Lowe’s 51%.
During the pandemic, more than ever, people felt the importance of connection between life scenes and brands as well as the value of co-creation experience. In the past year, IoT Ecosystem brand Haier achieved an increase of 41% in brand value and moved up 3 notches to #65; 
New entrant Zoom was one of the big tech stories of 2021, with its ease of use and reliability driving momentum with business and personal users. It entered the ranking at 52 with a valuation of $36.9bn. 
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. Beyond technology, subscription-based models are also increasing the value of a broad range of brands including Lululemon, Nike, Mercedes-Benz and Heineken.
Alcohol maintained its growth throughout the pandemic, fuelled by Chinese Baiju brands. The most valuable alcohol brand in the world is Moutai ($109.3bn)– which doubled its valuation in one year and is now four times the size of Budweiser (with the second biggest alcohol valuation of $25.5bn). Heineken was the fastest growing beer brand growing 16% (#4 in alcohol ranking).

Reputation, especially for sustainable and ethical purposes, is increasingly a driver for brand growth. The luxury category saw 34% brand growth with, predominantly, French and Italian luxury companies such as LVMH investing in their corporate reputation through pandemic-related initiatives, sustainable transformation, and support for social movements such as BLM. Similarly, L’Oréal Paris successfully bucked the trend across beauty brands in the pandemic, securing brand growth by flexing its assets and driving female empowerment.

“This year’s results show that brand building remains critical to securing growth,” explains Burdet. “We track the stock market performance of our strongest brands and have seen these recover twice as fast as other key indices. Our analytics have uncovered that 70% of what makes a brand successful is executing four fundamentals well: providing superior experience across consistently branded touchpoints, a range of well-designed and functional products and services, convenience, and exposure through great advertising. However, COVID-19 has emphasised consumer values such as trust and reliability. Those brands that are evolving their values, projecting leadership on these issues are demonstrating differentiation and standing out.” 

About Kantar BrandZTM:

Kantar BrandZTM is the global currency when assessing brand value, quantifying the contribution of brands to business’ financial performance. Kantar’s annual global and local brand valuation rankings combine rigorously analysed financial data, with extensive brand equity research. Since 1998, BrandZ has shared brand-building insights with business leaders based on interviews with 4 million consumers, for 18,000 brands in 51 markets.

1 This includes brands originated from China’s mainland and Hong Kong as well as brands owned by a Chinese company;
2 SOURCE: Kantar Retail IQ – Online Growth 2019-2020

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