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WeChat Accelerates to Victory as World’s Fastest Growing Brand

  • WeChat tops ranking with brand value growth of 1540% (CAGR 75%) in Brand Finance’s inaugural report on world’s 100 fastest growing brands over last 5 years
  • China and US monopolise ranking with 39 brands from each country
  • Porsche races ahead as fastest growing from outside China or US, 5-year brand value growth 734% (CAGR 53%)
  • Amazon records greatest brand value growth in absolute terms over five years at US$142.8 billion
  • Banking sector dominates ranking with 15 brands featuring

View the full Brand Finance Fastest Growing Brands report here

WeChat has claimed the title of the world’s fastest growing brand, recording a colossal 1540% 5-year brand value growth (75% CAGR), according to the latest report by Brand Finance, the world’s leading independent brand valuation consultancy. The inaugural report ranks the world’s 100 fastest growing brands that have featured consistently in the Brand Finance Global 500 ranking between 2014 and 2019.

WeChat has significantly broadened its proposition since its inception, successfully leveraging its brand to develop an extraordinary level of vertical product integration, providing a range of complementary services that would require dozens of specialised apps to deliver in Western countries. With over one billion monthly users, the app has positioned itself as a brand essential for everyday communication and life in China. The instant messaging software brand that developed WeChat, Tencent (QQ), is the 12th fastest growing brand seeing 550% 5-year brand value growth (CAGR 45%).

Alex Haigh, Valuation Director, Brand Finance, commented:

“WeChat has successfully entrenched itself in Chinese society, a feat unmatched by any other brand. However, despite attempts to launch in the Western world, the brand has failed to gain a strong foothold in the market, against stiff competition from incumbents, such as Facebook and WhatsApp. Now the Chinese economy is starting to stall, it raises the question whether Chinese brands can match domestic growth internationally.”

China and US

Chinese and US brands monopolise the ranking with 39 brands from each nation among the world’s top 100 fastest growing. The Chinese brands dominate, however, claiming two out of every three spots in the top 30, and with their combined worth accounting for 48% of the total brand value in the ranking and equating to a staggering US$856.8 billion. Chinese brands’ rise both at home and on the global stage has been meteoric, a credit to the country becoming one of the world’s best places to do business. Slightly behind China, US brands account for 40% of the total brand value in the ranking, at US$727.3 billion.

Porsche is the fastest growing brand from outside China or the US and the only European brand in the top 10. The German luxury car manufacturer has recorded an impressive 734% 5-year brand value increase (53% CAGR). Porsche is synonymous with world-class, superior quality sports car manufacturing. Although steeped in that tradition, Porsche has not shied away from product innovation. The brand was quicker than its competitors to develop SUV models and seize growth opportunities in China and in the female driver market in Europe and America. Porsche has also recently announced the launch of its first electric car, the Taycan, demonstrating both its commitment to product innovation and a continued understanding of evolving customer preferences. The combination of the brand’s reputation for luxury and forward-thinking product strategy has allowed Porsche to record solid sales growth year on year, consistently outpacing other marques.

Banks dominate ranking

The sector with the largest presence in the ranking, banking features a total of 15 brands among the world’s top 100 fastest growing, with 10 hailing from China. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank has recorded the highest 5-year brand value growth in the industry at 397% (CAGR 38%).

Chinese banks’ immense growth is a result of their access to the largest and wealthiest consumer and retail banking market in the world, boosted by the increasing prosperity of the Chinese middle class. In addition, Chinese banks are in a unique position compared to most of their international counterparts, being state-owned, they can count on state help should they run into any difficulty. Many of these banks’ largest clients are also state-owned enterprises, with their liquidity guaranteed by the government, resulting in a nearly risk-free financial ecosystem.

Alex Haigh, Valuation Director, Brand Finance, commented:

“Chinese banks have thrived in the face of turbulent times, shielded by implicit government assurances and benefitting from servicing large state-owned enterprises. A looming question, however, is how long they may continue to enjoy these comfortable conditions. With the US-China trade war reaching peak tensions, Chinese banks may have to look for completely new expansion strategies to continue on their steep trajectory of growth.”

Banks are not the only Chinese brands that have benefitted from state backing, with the real estate sector another avenue that the government has regularly turned to in order to stimulate growth. Real estate brands Country Garden (5-year brand value growth 872%; CAGR 58%) and Evergrande (5-year brand value growth 858%; CAGR 57%) are the world’s second and third fastest growing brands respectively.

Outside of China, India’s HDFC Bank is the fastest growing banking brand, seeing a 296% 5-year brand value growth rate (CAGR 32%). Over the last few years, the bank has focused on its digital offering, resulting in an influx of customers from the burgeoning younger generation.

Media sector revolution

Media is the second-most valuable sector in the ranking, with a combined brand value of US$242.6 billion. Aside from WeChat and Tencent, five further media brands feature: NetEase (5-year brand value growth 853%; CAGR 57%); Facebook (5-year brand value growth 747%; CAGR 53%); Netflix (5-year brand value growth 566%; CAGR 46%); Baidu (5-year brand value growth 282%; CAGR 31%); and ABC (5-year brand value growth 148%; CAGR 20%).

Traditional media brands are now faced with the reality of global shifts within the sector and are increasingly under pressure to respond. Disney, for example, which has topped the Brand Finance Media 25 ranking since 2015, and is currently the world’s 25th most valuable brand overall, despite intensive efforts to expand its offering, has not been able to match the growth pace of the sector’s challengers, failing to enter the fastest growing brands ranking. It is the social networks, online gaming, and digital streaming that have become the new normal of media consumption, catapulting brands providing these services to leadership positions in the sector.

Alex Haigh, Valuation Director, Brand Finance commented:

“Brand Finance has updated sector allocations for brands in its rankings to provide a more accurate representation of the world in which brands are now operating. With technology disrupting all industries, describing innovators as ‘tech’ brands, supposedly operating in a competitive space of their own, is no longer correct or useful. By grouping brands by what they do, rather than how they do it, we can see a clearer picture of the impact of innovation on sectors such as media or retail.”

Amazon records greatest growth

Amazon has recorded the greatest brand value growth in absolute terms among the world’s top 100 fastest growing brands – US$142.8 billion. Since the brand’s humble beginnings as an online bookstore, Amazon has become the world’s largest internet business by both market capitalisation and revenue. Having turned the world of retail upside down, the brand has now also ventured into electronics, cloud infrastructure, and logistics, among others. Amazon’s unrivalled technology has allowed the brand to outpace competitors both in distribution speed and distribution costs. Last year, Amazon crossed the US$1 trillion threshold on Wall Street for the first time in its history.

Fellow e-commerce brand, Alibaba (5-year brand value growth 143%; CAGR 19%), also features in the top 100 ranking. The platform accounts for over half of all online retail sales in China and boasts a staggering 750 million active users. Alibaba has shown its commitment to diversification through forging several strategic partnerships with NBA China, Starbucks, and Intel.

The four further retail brands in the ranking – Circle K (ranked 46th), Ross Dress for Less (50th), T.J. Maxx (65th), and Marshalls (71st) – are traditional bricks and mortar chains, with very different business models and approaches to Amazon and Alibaba. These brands, which have not embraced tech at the same rate, have boosted growth through alternative methods, by successfully competing on scale and price. Canada’s Circle K (5-year brand value growth 241%; CAGR 28%), for example, has committed to its expansion programme, rolling out a new, consistent brand identity across all stores and stations around the world.

Alex Haigh, Valuation Director, Brand Finance, commented:

“With four out of the six retail brands in the ranking operating in the bricks and mortar space, it is clear that there is still hope outside of e-commerce. Traditional retailers are able to compete successfully by applying smart strategies and tapping into the customer base which prefers in-store purchases. As retail convergence – where digitally native brands open bricks and mortar stores – picks up pace, the distinction in the market will start to obscure.”

Traditional sectors lagging

At the same time, failure to embrace innovation has hindered the growth rate of brands in some other sectors, particularly engineering & construction and logistics.

25 engineering & construction brands feature in the Brand Finance Global 500 2019 ranking, however only seven of these rank as fastest growing brands. Five of these seven are Chinese brands – China Railway Construction Corporation (5-year brand value growth 479%; CAGR 42%), China Railway Engineering Corporation (5-year brand value growth 388%; CAGR 37%), CRRC (5-year brand value growth 209%; CAGR 25%), China State Construction Engineering Corporation (5-year brand value growth 181%; CAGR 23%) and China Communications Construction Company (5-year brand value growth 175%; CAGR 22%) – all of which are bolstered by the Chinese government’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative and thus have less pressure to digitally transform to outpace the competition.

The story is similar in the logistics sector, 12 logistics brands feature in the Brand Finance Global 500 2019, however none of these count among the world’s fastest growing brands. Although logistics brands are now starting to embrace digitalisation, they have been slow on the uptake. Arguably, the highest ranked logistics brand in Brand Finance’s most recent Global 500, UPS (brand value US$29.3 billion), has started to lead the revolution in the sector, through innovation in its supply chain management and artificial intelligence utilisation.

Alex Haigh, Valuation Director, Brand Finance, commented:

“Traditional logistics brands have certainly been slow to embrace digital innovation, despite the sector’s potential to thrive considerably under such transformation. We are starting to see key global players finally springing into action as they are faced with competition from brands such as Amazon, successfully leveraging 21st century solutions to expand into new industries.”

ENDS

Note to Editors
Every year, Brand Finance values 5,000 of the world’s biggest brands. The 100 fastest growing brands from among those featured consistently in the Brand Finance Global 500 ranking over the past five years, are in the inaugural Brand Finance Fastest Growing Brands 2019 ranking.

Brand value is understood as the net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market.

Additional insights, charts, and more information about the methodology, as well as definitions of key terms are available in the Brand Finance Fastest Growing Brands 2019 report.

Data compiled for the Brand Finance rankings and reports are provided for the benefit of the media and are not to be used for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

Media Contacts
Konrad Jagodzinski
Communications Director
T: +44 (0)2073 899 400
M: +44 (0)7508 304 782
k.jagodzinski@brandfinance.com

Florina Cormack-Loyd
Communications Manager
T: +44 (0)2073 899 400
M: +44 (0)7939 118 932
f.cormackloyd@brandfinance.com

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About Brand Finance           
Brand Finance is the world’s leading independent brand valuation consultancy, with offices in over 20 countries. Brand Finance bridges the gap between marketing and finance by quantifying the financial value of brands.

Brand Finance helped craft the internationally recognised standard on Brand Valuation – ISO 10668, and the recently approved standard on Brand Evaluation – ISO 20671.

Brand Finance is a chartered accountancy firm regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), and also the first brand valuation consultancy to join the International Valuation Standards Council (IVSC).

Brand Finance’s brand value rankings have been certified by the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) through the Marketing Metric Audit Protocol (MMAP), the formal process for validating the relationship between marketing measurement and financial performance.

Methodology
Definition of Brand
Brand Finance helped to craft the internationally recognised standard on Brand Valuation – ISO 10668. It defines a brand as a marketing-related intangible asset including, but not limited to, names, terms, signs, symbols, logos, and designs, intended to identify goods, services or entities, creating distinctive images and associations in the minds of stakeholders, thereby generating economic benefits.

Brand Strength
Brand strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures, relative to its competitors. In order to determine the strength of a brand, we look at Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and the impact of those on Business Performance.

Each brand is assigned a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score out of 100, which feeds into the brand value calculation. Based on the score, each brand is assigned a corresponding rating up to AAA+ in a format similar to a credit rating.

Brand Valuation Approach
Brand Finance calculates the values of the brands in its league tables using the Royalty Relief approach – a brand valuation method compliant with the industry standards set in ISO 10668. It involves estimating the likely future revenues that are attributable to a brand by calculating a royalty rate that would be charged for its use, to arrive at a ‘brand value’ understood as a net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market.

The steps in this process are as follows:

  1. Calculate brand strength using a balanced scorecard of metrics assessing Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity and Business Performance. Brand strength is expressed as a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score on a scale of 0 to 100.
  2. Determine royalty range for each industry, reflecting the importance of brand to purchasing decisions. In luxury, the maximum percentage is high, in extractive industry, where goods are often commoditised, it is lower. This is done by reviewing comparable licensing agreements sourced from Brand Finance’s extensive database.
  3. Calculate royalty rate. The BSI score is applied to the royalty range to arrive at a royalty rate. For example, if the royalty range in a sector is 0-5% and a brand has a BSI score of 80 out of 100, then an appropriate royalty rate for the use of this brand in the given sector will be 4%.
  4. Determine brand-specific revenues by estimating a proportion of parent company revenues attributable to a brand.
  5. Determine forecast revenues using a function of historic revenues, equity analyst forecasts, and economic growth rates.
  6. Apply the royalty rate to the forecast revenues to derive brand revenues.
  7. Brand revenues are discounted post-tax to a net present value which equals the brand value.

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