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Marlboro Keeps its Spark as World’s Most Valuable Tobacco Brand

06 February 2020
This article is more than 4 years old.
  • Marlboro has retained title of world’s most valuable tobacco brand, brand value U$32.7 billion
  • Winston records impressive 9% brand value growth to US$4.1 billion
  • In contrast, Camel drops 14%, brand value damaged by increased regulation of menthols
  • Two new entrants in Brand Finance Tobacco 10 ranking – Rothmans & Gold Flake
  • L&M named sector’s strongest, Brand Strength Index (BSI) score 76.9 out of 100

View the full Brand Finance Tobacco 10 report here

Marlboro has retained its title of the world’s most valuable tobacco brand, despite recording a 3% decrease in brand value to US$32.7 billion, according to the latest report by Brand Finance, the world’s leading independent brand valuation consultancy. The tobacco giant remains in a league of its own in the sector with the second most valuable tobacco brand, L&M, significantly behind with a brand value of US$6.3 billion.

Philip Morris International-produced and Altria-owned Marlboro is the world’s top selling cigarette brand and has maintained solid sales and shipment volumes over the years in the face of changing tastes and greater scrutiny of the industry as a whole. Marlboro’s high shipment volumes have largely been driven by growth in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Philippines, where the brand has benefited from narrowing price gaps with the below premium price segment.

Philip Morris International is championing a smoke-free future through its new campaign ‘unsmoke the world’, contradicting its 173-year history. Its decision to spearhead the revolution in the tobacco sector towards cigarette alternatives has had mixed fortunes for the group. Its significant investment in e-cigarette brand Juul and development of its own brand IQOS have been damaged by tightened regulation of the e-cigarette market, with the US and China banning fruit flavoured e-cigarette products and with leading retailer Walmart banning the products all together.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“Tobacco brands are certainly familiar with being criticised and scrutinised closely, having had to continually react to ever-changing consumer tastes and heightened regulation. We have witnessed the damage that plain packaging has caused the industry and the subsequent shift towards smoke free, supposedly healthier, alternatives. However, with the e-cigarette market now very much under the limelight, these tobacco giants will have to plan their next steps wisely if they want to maintain their dominance and relevance globally.”

Winston accelerates

Three brands in the ranking have recorded solid brand value growth – Pall Mall, Winston and Copenhagen – with Winston leading the way, seeing an impressive 9% increase in brand value to US$4.1 billion. Winston is currently sold in a staggering 120 countries worldwide, and is the second best-selling cigarette brand globally, falling only behind long-standing leader Marlboro. JTI began manufacturing Winston cigarettes in Greece last year, simultaneously boosting it production and export capabilities and widening its global footprint to a further nine countries in the EU.

Camel gets the hump

In contrast, fellow JTI-owned brand Camel has suffered the largest drop in brand value in the ranking, down 14% to US$3.4 billion. Historically, Camel has been a leading brand in the menthol market, however with more countries banning these products, including Canada, the US and the EU as of May 2020, the brand’s sales, and consequently its brand value, has suffered.

Newport has been dealt a similar fate in the face of increasing regulation around menthol cigarettes and has dropped out of the Brand Finance Tobacco 10 ranking this year, following a 6% drop in brand value.

Sampoerna’s uncertain future

Sampoerna (brand value up 1% to US$3.3 billion) has been the top selling brand in Indonesia for over 10 years, where consumption of flavoured tobacco continues to be popular and unregulated. Recent announcements from the Indonesian Government, however, declaring plans to raise minimum prices of cigarettes by a third in 2020 in attempt to cut its smoking rates that currently stand at some of the highest in the world, poses an uncertain future for the brand.

Two new entrants

There are two new entrants into this year’s ranking, Rothmans (brand value US$3.1 billion) and Gold Flake (brand value US$3.0 billion). British brand Rothmans’ brand value has been boosted by its strengthened position in the Russian market. The brand originally entered the market in the early 1990s and has been recording double digit growth ever since, rising to the second most popular brand in the country.

Entering the ranking in 9th position, after dropping out last year, is ITC-owned Gold Flake. Its brand value was damaged by the highly active illicit trade market in India, as well as by the prolonged period of higher taxes across the nation. The brand has reaped the rewards, however, from Modi’s cut in corporate taxes last year and has thus seen a spike in its brand value and a re-entry into the ranking.

L&M is sector’s strongest

In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, familiarity, loyalty, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value. According to these criteria L&M is the world’s strongest tobacco brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 76.9 out of 100 and a corresponding AA+ brand strength rating. L&M is the 4th best-selling international cigarette brand outside of the US and China and thus one of the best performing brands in the Philip Morris International portfolio.

View the full Brand Finance Tobacco 10 report here


Note to Editors

Every year, Brand Finance values 5,000 of the world’s biggest brands. The 10 most valuable Tobacco brands are included in the Brand Finance Tobacco 10 report.

Brand value is understood as the net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market. Brand strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures relative to its competitors.

Additional insights, charts, and more information about the methodology, as well as definitions of key terms are available in the Brand Finance Tobacco 10 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

Penny Erricker
Communications Executive
Brand Finance

About Brand Finance

Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. Bridging the gap between marketing and finance for more than 25 years, Brand Finance evaluates the strength of brands and quantifies their financial value to help organizations of all kinds make strategic decisions.

Headquartered in London, Brand Finance has offices in over 20 countries, offering services on all continents. Every year, Brand Finance conducts more than 5,000 brand valuations, supported by original market research, and publishes over 100 reports which rank brands across all sectors and countries.

Brand Finance also operates the Global Brand Equity Monitor, conducting original market research annually on over 5,000 brands, surveying more than 150,000 respondents across 38 countries and 31 industry sectors. Combining perceptual data from the Global Brand Equity Monitor with data from its valuation database enables Brand Finance to arm brand leaders with the data and analytics they need to enhance brand and business value.

Brand Finance is a regulated accountancy firm, leading the standardization of the brand valuation industry. Brand Finance was the first to be certified by independent auditors as compliant with both ISO 10668 and ISO 20671 and has received the official endorsement of the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) in the United States.

Definition of Brand

Brand is defined 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. Brand Finance evaluates brand strength in a process compliant with ISO 20671, looking at Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and the impact of those on Business Performance. The data used is derived from Brand Finance’s proprietary market research programme and from publicly available sources.

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 Brand Rating up to AAA+ in a format similar to a credit rating.

Brand Valuation Approach

Brand Finance calculates the values of brands in its rankings 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, while 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 Discount post-tax brand revenues to a net present value which equals the brand value.


Brand Finance has produced this study with an independent and unbiased analysis. The values derived and opinions presented in this study are based on publicly available information and certain assumptions that Brand Finance used where such data was deficient or unclear. Brand Finance accepts no responsibility and will not be liable in the event that the publicly available information relied upon is subsequently found to be inaccurate. The opinions and financial analysis expressed in the study are not to be construed as providing investment or business advice. Brand Finance does not intend the study to be relied upon for any reason and excludes all liability to any body, government, or organisation.

The data presented in this study form part of Brand Finance's proprietary database, are provided for the benefit of the media, and are not to be used in part or in full for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

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