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HDFC Bank is India’s most valuable brand for 4th straight year: BrandZ

HDFC Bank retained its position as India’s most valuable brand for the fourth consecutive year in BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands 2017, the annual report brought out jointly by WPP and Kantar Milliard Brown. The BrandZ ranking and report highlights the success that many Indian companies have had in 2017 with managing their most important intangible asset: their brand. For many that has been driven by a rapid response to rising consumer optimism, and evolving to meet people’s needs as their financial circumstances, preferences and expectations change. 

HDFC Bank (24%) is India’s most valuable brand for the fourth year running, almost doubling its brand value since the ranking started in 2014 from $9.4 billion to $18.0 billion. It has a strong purpose – to improve lives by bringing world class financial services to all sections of India – and demonstrates it through increased access to banking in rural areas, an expanded digital presence and leveraging the latest technology to simplify its offering for customers. BrandZ data shows that consumers perceive the bank as increasingly innovative. 

David Roth, CEO EMEA and Asia, The Store WPP, remarked, “Indian consumers seek authenticity and value for money, and the meaning of those things is being constantly redefined. As consumers become wealthier, they look beyond price to factors like extra features, innovation and a personalised experience. As reflected in this year’s ranking the most agile Indian brands have recognised the complexity in the market, and achieved just the right balance between aspirational and affordable.” 

The automobile category, which also includes tyres, lubricants and motor fuels, grew 23% in value. Brands responded to the changing market with new models that combined smart pricing and functionality with style and power. Royal Enfield, Maruti Suzuki and TVS were among the Top 10 overall fastest risers. Royal Enfield (No. 40, 59%) engaged with biker groups on social media, and marketed a range of accessories. Maruti Suzuki (No. 7, 56%) extended the brand beyond its traditional appeal to the value segment of the market, while introducing new showrooms called Nexa to reach premium customers. 

The India Top 50 have faced successive disruptions in the last year, some global, some created by fast-growing competitors and others strategically imposed by the government, including demonetisation. 

The FMCG category, which includes alcohol, food and dairy, personal care and soft drinks, was significantly affected by these challenges but still managed to grow 6% in total value. Some brands achieved impressive value increases by accurately understanding and responding to Indian sensibilities. Noodle brand Maggi (No.32, 66%), the overall second-fastest riser, aligned itself with the trend for nostalgia. This helped it bounce back after a difficult couple of years; its rapid regrowth demonstrating how a strong brand can help a company weather a crisis and recover faster, although it is still some way below its peak brand value of $1.1 billion in 2014. Health food brand Saffola (No. 36, 24%), meanwhile, introduced oats in new localised flavours and expanded its range of oils into a new super premium sub-segment. 

The financial services category increased its value by 26%. The fastest rising banks were Punjab National Bank (No. 39, 43%), which is highly customer-focused and more agile than some of its competitors, and Kotak Mahindra Bank (No. 6, 36%), which has innovated in areas including digital banking. Both of these brands still have significant catching up to do, however, if they are to reach the top of the leader board. 

Vishikh Talwar, Managing Director, Kantar Millward Brown, South Asia, noted, “There are now ‘multiple Indias’. Consumers continue to love the brands they’ve loved for generations, while equally embracing the brands of the future. Brands must be completely in rhythm with the pulse of the market. Those that can accurately interpret Indian sensibilities, while ensuring smart pricing, are likely to be most successful. This is easier for local brands, but people will relate just as positively to a global brand if it uses insight to understand and meet their needs, and communicate in a way that builds trust.” 

Other trends highlighted in this year’s BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands include: 

There are seven newcomers to the ranking. Telecom provider Jio ranks at No. 11 only months after its launch, having disrupted its category with free-data promotions. The others are newly listed retailer D-Mart (No. 24), appliance brand Whirlpool (No. 45), insurance brand Bajaj Allianz (No. 49), Canara Bank (No. 50) and entertainment brands Sun Direct (No. 27) and DishTV (No. 47). 

The long-term growth curve of the Top 50 is positive, with the total brand value of the ranking up 57% since the study was first carried out in 2014, when it amounted to $69.6 billion. 

India experienced a resurgence in national pride, while also embracing globalisation. This manifested in a desire for products and brands that best reflect Indian heritage, sensibilities and tastes, which benefited local brands and put pressure on multinationals to follow suit. Colgate (No. 28, 2%) launched a toothpaste with Ayurvedic properties to meet this demand. 

The top riser is insurance brand ICICI Prudential (No. 35, 89%). It benefited from the ‘halo effect’ of other brands’ successful responses to rising consumer affluence, which led to an increase in sales of assets such as cars that need insurance protection.

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