In a pecking order that would confound many, HDFC Bank, India’s second largest private sector lender, has emerged as India’s top brand with a value of $9.4 billion, more than a tenth of the combined worth of the 50 top Indian brands of $70 billion. In a ranking in which only one Tata brand found its way into the top 50, and that too somewhere near the bottom of the heap — Tata Motors came in at 31 — marketing and brand consultancy Millward Brown and WPP Group, the world’s largest communications services group led by veteran advertising professional Martin Sorrell, has compiled the first ever BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands.
Other curious misses are Titan, Vodafone and LIC, all brands that have great reach and touch everyday lives. Given the voraciousness with which Indians are devouring mobile phones — three mobile service provider brands are in Brandz’s top ten — it is surprising handset manufacturers like Samsung don’t figure. And despite the rise of the internet, none of the big global brands like Google, Facebook or Twitter feature.
Brand experts are puzzled as to how the Anil Ambani-led mobile telephony firm Reliance Communications, which slipped to being India’s fourth largest telco by subscriber base in September 2013, made it to the tenth spot ahead of the likes of beer brand Kingfisher — was this hit by the eponymous airline going bankrupt? — and automobile maker Maruti Suzuki. Santosh Desai, managing director and chief executive of Future Brands, a brand management and marketing consultancy firm, said that while it may not be accurate to compare brands across categories, RCom being ranked 10th was surprising.
More so given Sorrell’s statement that there is a “direct correlation between strong brands and strong investment behind them”. In an interaction on Tuesday, Sorrell added that brands had faced some challenges in the last two years. “With the new government in place, action will be taken to strengthen these brands in and outside India,” he said. According to GroupM data, brands spent around R2,520 crore towards digital media advertising in 2013, up 30% from the year earlier. It estimates this expenditure will grow 35% year-on-year to reach R3,402 crore in 2014.
Services brands from industries like banking, telecom and insurance comprised seven of the top 10 spots on the list. Going by the rankings, financial services firms seem to have invested significantly towards creating a brand recall in the minds of customers, with 12 banks and insurers accounting for 30% of the total value of $70 billion ascribed to these 50 brands — given the financial services sector’s fall from grace in the developed world, this should be reassuring.
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The top 50 brands come from 13 different categories. Seventeen are MNCs, 26 are private Indian brands and seven state-owned ones. This indicates India is an open, fertile market for building valuable brands, irrespective of age, origin, structure, category, ownership or even price range, according to the report.
“Any global manufacturer that makes the effort to understand the diversity of the Indian consumer’s needs, tastes and aspirations, and which can build a proposition that is both meaningful and appropriately differentiated, will succeed in building a strong brand,” said Prasun Basu, Millward Brown’s managing director for South Asia.
Experts believe the digital and social media revolution in India, in terms of the way people consume information, makes it a necessity for brands to invest in a social and digital media strategy. CVL Srinivas, chief executive in charge of South Asia at GroupM, WPP’s media planning and buying arm, observed that advertisers were witnessing the impact of the purchasing power of internet users in India with the exponential growth shown by e-commerce companies.
fe Bureau | The Financial Express