Category Changes

Despite disruptions, most categories rise in value

Led by fast food and technology, all but two of the 13 product categories in the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report improved in Brand Value – often significantly – over the past 10 years.

Seven categories at least doubled in value: fast food, technology, beer, apparel, telecom providers, soft drinks and retail. But disruption touched many categories. And every category felt both the immediate impact of the global financial crisis and the hangover of cautious consumer spending.

The biggest shift of Global Top 100 Brand Value went to technology, which along with telecom providers accounted for 44 percent of the total in 2015, compared to 35 percent 10 years ago. The consumer categories collectively declined in their proportion of overall value.

Although consumer concern about healthy ingredients and calorie consumption increased significantly during the past decade, the two categories most impacted by this trend, fast food and soft drinks, increased in Brand Value 252 percent and 118 percent, respectively.

That’s because the Brand Power of the category leaders, McDonald’s and Coca- Cola, enabled the brands to sustain their value even as they strove to adjust their businesses for rapidly evolving consumer expectations.

In addition, value rose rapidly for newer, healthier, innovative brands, like Panera and Chipotle, which was not yet in the fast food category ranking when the BrandZ™ Global Top 100 launched in 2006. Responding to health concerns, Chipotle removed genetically modified food from its menu.

Personal care brands also responded to consumer concern about the safety of product ingredients, as well as more inclusive ideals of beauty and the rapid growth of the male grooming sector. The fluctuations of China’s economy, which helped drive category brand value growth, also influenced its recent slowdown.

Changing millennial tastes shaped beer brands, which introduced craft beer versions and new flavor options. In the luxury category, consumer reluctance to spend ostentatiously during the recession evolved into more conscious consumption, with greater interest in craftsmanship and provenance than logos.

Fast-fashion brands drove brand value growth in the apparel category, although the athletic clothing and affordable luxury apparel brands also prospered. Brands in the middle, lacking a compelling value proposition, felt squeezed.

Some business-to-business technology brands worked to reinvent themselves for cloud-based enterprise solutions. Meanwhile, the business-to-consumer leaders broadened their influence on people’s lives. Competition not only included Apple, Google and Facebook, but also the Chinese contenders, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu.

BrandZ™ includes Alibaba in the retail category because of its e-commerce dominance. E-commerce led a transformation of retail so radical that today the two most valuable retail brands – Alibaba and Amazon – operate no physical stores.

The Internet and disintermediation impacted the insurance category. Brands analyzed big data to personalize their offerings, even as aggregators commoditized the business in certain markets, like the UK. Chinese brands grew rapidly based on the size of the market and the needs of the growing middle class for insurance and wealth-management products.

Telecom providers also focused on building brands and expanding from simply being conduits of voice and data to becoming content-provider brands. The heavy investment to create these ecosystems and build networks drove industry consolidation.

The global financial crisis especially impacted the cars and banks categories. While business ratcheted back up, cars and global banks remain the only two categories that have not recovered in Brand Value to pre-recession levels. (For further details about 10-Year trends and performance, please see Part 5: The Categories.)

Global Top 100 Brand Value shifts to technology

The biggest shift of Global Top 100 Brand Value went to technology, which along with telecom providers accounted for 44 percent of the total in 2015, compared to 35 percent 10 years ago. The consumer categories collectively declined in their proportion of overall value.

10-year value change (2006 to 2015), % Top 100 value
10-Year Category Changes

BrandZ Top 100 2015

BrandZ Global 2014 Report Top 100 Report

Top 100 Chart

Top 100 Infographic


Methodology and valuation by Kantar Millward Brown


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