The value of UK brands has decreased substantially this year, with the UK failing to keep pace with other countries amid a warning that UK brands could disappear from the list of the top 100 global brands within three years.

Kantar’s annual BrandZ list of the top 75 most valuable brands in the UK finds that UK brand value has fallen by 13% over the past 12 months and 15% since 2017. That amounts to a loss of $32bn overall.

By comparison, the global top 100’s value rose by 5.9% this year and is now worth close to $5trn – more than the gross domestic product of Japan, the world’s third largest economy.

If current trends continue, Kantar warns UK brands could disappear from its global BrandZ list by 2024.

Vodafone remains the UK’s biggest brand with a value of $23.1bn but its value has fallen by 13% over the past year, putting it at just 55 in the global rankings. Among the rest of the top 10, all the brands have experienced a decline in value except Lipton, whose value has remained steady.

The top 10 UK brands remain largely unchanged from 2019. HSBC ($18.7bn) comes second, followed by Shell ($16.1bn), BP ($11bn) and BT ($9.2bn). Lipton moves up to sixth, with Sky dropping a place to seventh and Tesco eighth, while Dove remains ninth and Barclays drops out of the top 10, replaced by O2.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic loom large over this year’s list, with entertainment, food and drink, and personal care brands experiencing an increase in value while other sectors such as retail, cars and luxury absorbing significant blows.

This is reflected in the group of fastest risers, with Ocado, Deliveroo, JustEat, Innocent, Cadbury and Co-op all rising up the list. Ocado is the UK’s fastest growing brand, increasing its value by 63% to $3.3bn and reaching number 18 in the ranking. JustEat at number 20, saw its brand value rise 19% to $2.8bn while Deliveroo came in at 29with a 40% increase in its brand value to $1.9bn.

This is also evidence among the seven newcomers on the list: Grand Theft Auto (in at number 53, worth $1.1bn), TransferWise (62, $831m), construction company Berkeley (68, $701m), gin brand Gordon’s (70, $651m), Aquafresh (74, $582m) and fintech Revolut (75, $582m).

The report concludes that it is only brands which are able to anticipate change and adapt to new consumer behaviour patterns that will keep hold of their value in such uncertain times. Thinking and acting differently is key, even if the temptation is to switch to survival mode and try to sit out the storm and wait for a return to normality.

A pivotal point for UK brands

Kantar BrandZ insists that the list shows that now, more than ever, is the time for companies to innovate and invest.

However, as Kantar UK’s chief growth officer Jane Bloomfield points out, UK brands are nearing the point of no return. Embracing the opportunities that such a scenario presents is vital for any brand hoping to progress, although Bloomfield admits that such decisiveness takes a fair degree of confidence.

“Brands need to tap into the new consumer behaviours that we’re seeing under Covid-19,” she says. “They have to understand what people think, what they’re feeling, where and how they’re shopping and then acting on that really quickly. It’s a pivotal point for brands, they’ve got to take the equity they have and turn that into a really powerful form of defence.”

Differentiating doesn’t necessarily mean changing product lines or totally revamping brand identity. It’s more about things like cutting through the noise and communicating directly to a consumer’s wants and concerns, or improving home delivery or in-store experiences and service, says Bloomfield.

Thinking local is one obvious example. The pandemic has forced consumers to work and shop much closer to home, with out-of-town office blocks becoming a more attractive proposition in a safety-conscious age. Retailers and franchise chains can find ready markets and in turn revitalise sleepy suburbs and stagnant commuter-belt market towns.

It’s a pivotal point for brands, they’ve got to take the equity they have and turn that into a really powerful form of defence.

Jane Bloomfield, Kantar UK

Bloomfield cites Pret A Manger as a (now foreign-owned) brand that’s been looking to adapt to a shifting landscape, trying a number of concepts in recent months, including stocking groceries and opening in out-of-town locations. It has also launched a subscription service, with customers paying £20 a month for unlimited coffee.

Pret had to cut 2,800 jobs during lockdown but, as Bloomfield explains, the way that the company has engaged with consumers in tough times has been very telling.

“It’s about being honest and open,” she says. “There can be a confidence in that kind of vulnerability, in basically saying to consumers ‘we need you to come back’. I think that’s really refreshing from a brand.”

That approach ties in with notions of trust, and Bloomfield believes that brands are now increasingly filling a void left by the public’s disillusionment and distrust when it comes to politics.

“People are looking to brands to compensate,” she says. “They want them to take a more active approach to driving change. Social platforms allow brands to present a much more human voice and really engage.”

Consumers were taking a keen interest in how brands behaved around issues like sustainability and social responsibility well before the virus hit, but the events of this year have heightened demand and expectations.

For Bloomfield that can only be a good thing and she’s determinedly upbeat, confident that localism and engagement offer a way forward for brands hoping to up their pace of recovery.

“There’s a huge opportunity for brands to take positive action in this moment because of the change in consumer behaviour, but also changes in mindset,” she insists.

“Covid can provide a genuine lifeline to some British brands that they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten in normal circumstances. But they have to do it in a genuine and trustworthy way.”

About the BrandZ ranking

The valuation behind the BrandZ Top 75 Most Valuable UK Brands was conducted by Kantar, which specialises in brand equity research and brand valuation. The methodology mirrors that used to calculate the annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking, which is now in its 15th year. Commissioned by WPP and Kantar, the ranking combines rigorously analysed financial data from Bloomberg with the opinions of more than 140,000 UK consumers.

The UK brands in the list all meet these eligibility criteria:

  • They were originally created in the UK.
  • They are owned by a publicly listed company traded on a stock exchange, or its financials are published in the public domain.
  • British unicorns have their most recent valuation publicly available.

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