The tech titans top the list of leading global brands in a new ranking that also saw significant growth despite the pandemic.
Amazon, Apple and Google top The Kantar BrandZ 2021 Most Valuable Global Brands rankings as tech companies claimed seven of the top 10 spots.
Kantar reports 42% overall BrandZ growth for the top 100 brands – $2.1 trillion dollars over the past year – and a growth rate 4.5 times the average over the past 15 years.
Amazon, whose value rose 64% to $648 billion, held on to the No. 1 spot. Apple, up 74% to $612 billion, and Google, rising 42% to $458 billion, came in second and third. Rounding out the top 10 are Microsoft, Tencent, Facebook, Alibaba, Visa, McDonald's and Mastercard.
Tesla, ranked 47, made the list for the first time, earning the top spot for growth with a 275% increase to $42 billion. Zoom, valued at $37 billion, debuted at number 52 after a year of pandemic life transformed the video conferencing platform into a combination classroom-cocktail bar-wedding venue-gym and more.
New sectors appeared in the ranking as well – Including media and entertainment, consumer technology, and business solutions and technology providers – reflecting the pandemic-driven evolution to virtual work and play.
U.S. brands, which increased 46% in value, account for 74% of the top 100 companies' total value. The value of Chinese companies represents 14 percent, while European companies represent 8 percent – down from 20 percent from 2011. Four Chinese companies more than doubled their BrandZ value: TikTok, up 158%; Pinduoduo, up 131%; Meituan, up 119%; and Moutai, up 103% – ranking second through fifth for percentage of growth after Tesla.
Facebook Dominates Consumer Engagement
Facebook is consumers’ top choice for engagement, according to a new survey.
Nearly 80 percent of consumers choose it as their go-to vehicle for following brands, according to a Sprout Social survey detailing consumer and marketer trends on social media. In addition, Facebook tops the charts as consumers' most-used platform (87 percent).
These findings serve as a reminder to social media communicators to revisit Facebook as a platform for driving business, despite a groundswell of buzz for newer platforms like TikTok and Clubhouse.
When consumers follow a brand on social, 91 percent say they are likely to visit its website or app. This high level of conversion is surprising, given social platforms' (particularly Facebook) aim of keeping social media users on-platform.
In terms of customer service, consumer expectations for responses from brands on social to queries remain strong. When asked what they think makes a brand best-in-class on social, consumers ranked “they offer strong customer service” at the top of the list of criteria out of nine categories. The rest of the list included storytelling, “distinct personality” and “the first to join a social network.”
This is in stark contrast to the survey’s marketer respondents, who ranked customer service sixth. Higher on the priority list for marketers is brands that “engage their audience.”
While 'audience engagement' arguably is an umbrella term that includes customer service, 'engagement' usually refers to the good stuff—how often audiences interact with content in a positive way, through likes, views and comments.
But customer-support questions, which often drip negative sentiment, also are a good place to strengthen audience interest and loyalty.
Sprout’s analysis concludes follower counts are no longer a vanity metric, considering that most business-critical actions consumers take appear to result from following brands on social first.
Nine of 10 consumers said they’d buy products or services from brands they follow on social, with 86 percent of respondents sharing that they would purchase from a brand they follow over a competitor. This would indicate that social media practitioners would do well to place a renewed emphasis on recruiting followers (or poaching them from the competition).
Consumer use of social continues to increase (spurred on, no doubt, by the pandemic). Moreover, Sprout reported a 54 percent increase in Boomer usage of social media, and Gen Z upping usage a whopping 78 percent.
The survey makes a case for leaning on social media for competitive advantage. Nearly all (93 percent) marketers say social media accelerated competition in their industry. In other words, competitors’ social media strategy – from creative, to response time when a customer complains – is an open book, and with smart analysis, can help brands establish consumers’ baseline expectations and preferences. Studying competitors’ posts and metrics helps 86 percent of marketers “identify new business opportunities,” according to the survey.
In addition to social media's prowess as a business tool and role in personal communication, social is associated with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Yet it’s more complicated than ‘too much social media leads to mental health problems,’ according to a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults.
Released last month, the survey from PR firm EvolveMKD and Ipsos includes some surprising findings. For example, half of Americans say social media doesn’t influence their mental health. And of those who say it does, 3 in 4 believe social media is a positive influence.
There’s a gender gap, though. More women (30 percent) than men (18 percent) say social media impacts their mental health in a negative way. The survey suggests the culprit perhaps is how the sexes spend time on social. Men and women spend comparable time on social. Yet women (54 percent) devote more effort to scrolling through their feeds than men (40 percent).
One reason to look at social media and mental health is that women’s mental health has declined during the past decade, especially in the pandemic. 75 percent of women who reported changes in mental health said it got worse in 2020, compared to 49 percent of men.
Moreover, there’s a connection to communication. The survey found 7 in 10 respondents believe how they communicate is linked directly to their mental health.
Gmail Gets Collaboration Tools
Google has announced a major Gmail redesign with a slew of new productivity tools that'll work across the company's other apps, like Docs and Sheets, aiming to turn the service into a hub for planning projects and collaborating with other people.
The idea is to bring Google's separate productivity apps all to one place, with Gmail serving as the command center. The update brings Gmail more in line with competitors like Slack and Microsoft Teams, which make popular collaboration software. But instead of targeting only office workers, Google is bringing the features to its consumer version of Gmail.
The biggest change is the addition of a feature called Spaces. The tool works similarly to Slack channels, which let people collaborate in real time. In Google's version, people can chat, swap files and edit Google Docs without switching tabs. The Spaces feature was previously called Rooms in the version for paid accounts.
Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!
» TODD SMITH is co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Deane | Smith, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm – based in Nashville, Tenn. – is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at email@example.com, follow him @spinsurgeon on Twitter and like the ageny on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deanesmithpartners, and join us on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/company/deane-smith-&-partners.