New Delhi: India's largest private sector lender, HDFC Bank, topped the list of the country’s top 70 most valuable brands, according to a report released by marketing and advertising conglomerate WPP Plc and Kantar.
This is the sixth consecutive year in which HDFC Bank continued to dominate the ranking owing to its forward-thinking outlook, new financial products, an ongoing drive towards digital banking and new branches set-up throughout the country. The bank grew 5% in brand value to $22.7 billion, which is a positive contrast to the 8% decline in value of the top 20 global banks.
The 2019 edition of the ranking revealed a 6% rise in overall brand value to $228.2 billion, a moderate pace compared to previous years, given India’s recent macroeconomic challenges. Despite that, such growth is still in line with that of the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, as India steadily rises in global economic rankings. The BrandZ study combine companies’ financial data with consumer insight and opinion shows that trust is a key to develop the stability required for long-term success; highly trusted brands in the Top 75 are worth 129% more than less trusted ones.
"For the last five to six quarters our growth rates have been tanking. We are perhaps at our lowest point in the last two decades and these are the reasons why growth has been a challenge this year. Having said that, brands have grown because they had the right conversation with the consumer and offered them the right kind of products/services," said Vishikh Talwar, chief client officer, Kantar Insights Division.
Trusted brands include many of the consumer-facing technology platforms and service providers. With a 30% increase in value, this sector was the fastest growing group of brands in the ranking. Some of the notable brands include e-commerce site Flipkart (which occupied 12th spot), which increased its brand value 14% to $4.7 billion, while unicorn brands hotel booking site Oyo ($2 billion), online food ordering service Swiggy ($1.6 billion) and online restaurant marketplace Zomato ($1 billion) are newcomers to the ranking at 30, 39 and 61 ranks respectively.
The fastest riser in the 2019 ranking is telecom provider, Jio, which climbed one place to number ninth spot with a 34% increase in brand value to $5.5 billion. Its disruptive business model has made internet access available to many Indians who were previously unable to afford it, thereby opening up access to digital platforms and services. Vodafone ($2.5 billion) was the top-ranked newcomer at 24th spot.
Both digital and offline brands such as D-Mart (No. 25, $2.4 billion) have found success as a result of the rise of ‘middle India’; the growing number of people in the country’s second, third and fourth-tier cities and towns that are changing India’s traditional urban-rural divide. These previously poorly-served segments increasingly have access to a variety of online services, with Swiggy and Zomato building much of their growth on this shift.
With an expanding choice of offerings to buy, Indian consumers increasingly care more about the quality of service than whether a brand originates in India, as long as it demonstrates that it understands what it means to be Indian. That insight is reflected in the decision by Amazon to launch itself a year ago as India’s ‘neighbourhood shop’.
"Brands should stick to the fundamentals of marketing in the tough times. They should continue to invest, drive innovation, stay connected with the consumer, be authentic and earn their trust. For a corporate firm good brands, built over a period of time, become an insurance against bad times," said Preeti Reddy, chief executive, South Asia, Insights Division, Kantar.
Some of the key trends highlighted in the report include increased mobile internet penetration because of Jio phenomenon and renewed competition, retail being the second fastest growing category, with online and offline both growing strongly. New entrant Reliance Retail (No. 55, $1.1 billion) opened nearly 500 new stores and used Jio’s service to connect retail shops with grocery deliveries, while D-Mart ($2.4 billion) focused predominantly on offline, rising two places to No. 25.
Amazon and Flipkart compete with many Indian brands across several sectors, with Amazon also opening its largest campus yet in India. The success of unicorn brands such as Swiggy, Zomato and Oyo is fostering a new-found confidence in India as they look to expand their operations globally.