Japan’s most valuable brands have a combined brand value of $225.9 billion, according to the new Kantar BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Japanese Brands report released today. While the latest ranking indicates a decline of 4% year-on-year, due to macroeconomic pressures in Japan and challenges in international markets, it also shows that strong brands lose less value in difficult times and are able to recover faster.
Toyota retains its number one position with a brand value of more than $28.5 billion and accounts for 12.6% of the total Japanese brand ranking. One of only a handful of truly global Japanese brands, Toyota also ranks at No. 62 in Kantar’s Global Top 100 ranking and is the second most valuable brand in the global top 10 Automotive ranking.
NTT (No.2; $22.9bn) and Sony (No.3; $20.2bn) complete the top three in the new Japanese ranking. One of the best performing brands, Uniqlo, is at No.4 ($13.7bn), increasing its brand value by 26% on last year. With around two-thirds of its stores outside of Japan, the innovative fashion brand has expanded into international markets, but kept quality and affordability at the heart of its business. The company has also stayed relevant through successful collaborations with cool and luxury designers, launching new collections with JW Anderson and Marni and helping to drive customer and digital engagement.
Retail and Apparel brands increase Top 50 presence
The Japanese ranking includes two new Apparel brands - GU (No.33; $1.6bn) and ASICS (No.42; $1.2bn). While in the Retail category, which has a significant presence in the Top 50 ranking with nine brands, wholesaler Gyomu Super (No.36; $1.5bn) also joins for the first time, with Lawson (No.49; $932m) re-entering the ranking.
A sister brand of Uniqlo, GU has built a strong presence in Asia and more recently expanded into the US, focusing on affordable fashion for Gen Z shoppers while tapping into pop culture and fashion trends. Grocery retailers, Gyomu Super and Lawson have also carved out their presence in the sector, with Lawson one of the top convenience store chains in Japan, second only to 7-Eleven (No.5; $12.0bn), and Gyomu Super creating brand value by offering quality products at low prices.
The last few years have been very challenging for Japanese brands. But, with the last pandemic restrictions being lifted, a more buoyant hospitality sector, and the positive effects of a weaker yen on exports, we are starting to see signs of recovery. This will have a huge impact, especially for brands with strong international credentials. The Kantar BrandZ Top 50 Japanese brands generate nearly half of their business overseas, which seems like a good balance, but in reality, this is down to a small number, including Toyota, Sony and Honda. Most businesses focus on the domestic market, which limits their ability to grow and increase brand value. Brands must look to balance local success with international market opportunities.
Kantar BrandZ Top 10 Most Valuable Japanese Brands 2024
Being ‘Different’ can make all the difference for Japanese brands
Japanese brands have an opportunity to amplify their Difference, Meaning and Salience to help build strong brand equity. In this year’s Top 50, some brands perform well in one or two, but few excel in all three. “Compared to the Global Top 100, Japanese brands are falling behind, especially when it comes to Difference where a brand is seen as offering consumers something that others do not. For brands with strong Meaningful Difference, it can also generate Pricing Power; a brand’s ability to justify its price point. It’s important that they address this to become more globally competitive,” adds Kantar Japan’s Akiko Kosukegawa.
Logistics company, Yamato Transport (No.31; $1.6bn) has successfully differentiated itself in a sector not known for sustainability by making a public commitment to more sustainable operations and renewable sources of energy. Yakult (No.22; $2.5bn) has tapped into its strong brand heritage while continuing to innovate, promoting wellness and the benefits of its new Y1000 product for a good night’s sleep. Skincare brand, SK-II (No.24; $2.1bn) has also differentiated itself with a distinctive look and feel and by offering a good online experience using digital technology to help diagnose users’ skin and recommend products. This has contributed to its high Pricing Power and helped it to grow $455m in brand value since the 2021 ranking.
Other highlights from the Kantar BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Japanese Brands 2024 report include:
• Most of the ranking’s brand value comes from Telecom Providers and Automotive brands, with NTT the highest ranked of the four telecoms brands, which together account for a fifth (20%) of the total Top 50’s brand value. Of the five automotive brands, Toyota leads, with Honda (No.8; $8.5bn) and Nissan (No.12; $5.6bn) in the top 20, together with Bridgestone (No.34; 1.6bn) and Suzuki (No.37; $1.4bn).
• Financial Services brands increased their value by 15% this year, with four of the Top 5 fastest risers from this category, including MUFG, which entered the Top 10 with a brand value of $7 billion. Brands in this category balance domestic strength with a solid international presence.
The Kantar BrandZ Most Valuable Japanese Brands ranking, report and extensive analysis are available now at www.kantar.com/campaigns/brandz/japan
For an overarching view of brand performance, Kantar has launched a new, free interactive tool powered by BrandZ’s wealth of data and Meaningful Different Salient framework. Kantar BrandSnapshot delivers intelligence on 10,000 brands in 40+ markets, offering a quick read on a brand’s performance in a category. Explore for free on Kantar Marketplace today.