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The impact of the pandemic on brand growth and development is clear in the "Brand Finance Global 500 2022" report out this week — thanks to vaccines, Big Pharma is named the fastest-growing industry, with brand value and number of brands doubling compared with 2020.

And while tourism remains below pre-pandemic valuations, the sector shows signs of recovery, with all ranked brands experiencing brand value increases as lockdown rules loosened.

While no SA brands crack the big list, the trends are mirrored in the local pharmaceutical and tourism industries. Over the festive season Durban reported an 80% occupancy level with more than 200,000 visitors to the city and British Airways increased the number of seats it offers between SA and the UK because of increased passenger demand.

According to the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of SA, international companies have been ramping up investment in recent years and the body estimates the sector’s fiscal contribution to the state budget will total R5.4bn by year-end.

The Brand Finance report names the video-focused social media platform TikTok as the world’s fastest-growing brand — year on year its value more than tripled from $18.7bn to $59bn. TikTok, taking 18th spot among the world’s 500 most valuable brands, is the highest new entrant.

The brand valuation company says with Covid restrictions in effect across the globe throughout 2021, digital entertainment, social media and streaming services saw continued growth, and TikTok’s rise is testament to how media consumption is changing.

The three fastest-growing brands in the ranking are media brands — social media app Snapchat (brand value up 184% to $6.6bn) and South Korean internet company Kakao (up 161% to $4.7bn) follow closely behind TikTok.

In contrast, traditional media brands have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic — Warner Bros is among the fastest-falling brands in the ranking this year, with brand value down 33% to $6.8bn.

Apple retains the title of most valuable brand, rising 35% to $355.1bn — the highest value ever recorded in the ranking. Amazon and Google also saw good growth, keeping their respective No 2 and No 3 rankings.

The tech sector is again the most valuable in the survey, with a cumulative brand value of close to $1.3-trillion. But just three players — Apple, Microsoft (brand value $184.2bn) and Samsung ($107.3bn) — together account for more than half the total brand value in the sector.

The retail sector has cemented its position as the second-most valuable, crossing the $1-trillion mark for the first time. This year Walmart reclaimed its spot in the top five, climbing from sixth place to fifth with a 20% increase in brand value to $111.9bn.

More than two-thirds of the total value in the ranking is attributable to brands from just two countries: the US (49%, or $3.9-trillion) and China (19%, or $1.6-trillion).

Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a scorecard that evaluates marketing investment, stakeholder equity and business performance. According to these criteria, WeChat, the Chinese instant messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Tencent, remains the world’s strongest brand, retaining the title for the second consecutive year. This is probably the closest any SA entity comes to rubbing shoulders with the top 500 brands, given the Naspers stake in Tencent.


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