Jessica Goodfellow
Jul 27, 2020

Australians turn their back on high-end brands and embrace social media, vitamins and deliveries

COVID-19 and Chris Hemsworth appear to have driven the biggest swings in Australia's top brands listing.

Chris Hemsworth in a Swisse brand campaign.
Chris Hemsworth in a Swisse brand campaign.


The top brands selected by consumers in Australia in this year's Asia's Top 1000 Brands research is a revealing early look at the influence of COVID-19 on consumer behaviour and attitudes—trends that will inevitably have been accelerated since the research was conducted.

In normal circumstances, one would never expect to see such a surge in brand awareness of logistics providers, for example. But analysis of Australia’s top 100 brands finds that DHL (96th) had the biggest lift of any brand, moving up a considerable 53 places. Competitor FedEx (108th) also climbed up the list—by a more moderate 18 places.

In a similar vein, ecommerce giant Amazon (36) was also a big winner in this year's ranking, up 37 places. Amazon has recorded monumental growth in Australia since it launched there two years ago, and while its share of the ecommerce market was prediced to be a low 3% last year, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major boon to the world's largest online retailer. Interestingly, while Amazon is dwarfed by rival ecommerce platform Ebay in terms of market share, the latter wasn't so lucky in this year's Top 1000 Brands listing, falling -19 places to 61st.

Matt Robinson, the partner and managing director at independent creative digital agency AnalogFolk, explains that brands in Australia are "finally starting to see the opportunity in direct-to-consumer".

"To be honest I believe brands here are still playing catch up with the demands and desires of the Australian consumer," he says. "Perhaps it’s the (very much welcomed) arrival and emergence of Amazon spurring them on, but we are seeing a huge increase in demand from clients looking for our help in selling online."

Within the top 100 list, those that lifted 10 places or more include, in descending order:

DHL (96th) up 53
BMW (91st) up 50
Amazon (36) up 37
Palmolive (68th) up 31
Swisse (95th) up 27
Aptamil (90th) up 26
Panadol (52nd) up 23
Levi’s (98th) up 23
Devondale (69th) up 19
Australian Football League (94th) up 18
Mount Franklin (73rd) up 17
Starbucks (30th) up 16
Toyota (99th) up 14
Phillips (34th) up 13
Samsonite (50th) up 13
Qantas (38th) up 12
Golden Circle (47th) up 12
Huggies (28th) up 10
Pizza Hut (55th) up 10
Heineken (75th) up 10

The performance of vitamin brand Swisse (95th) is particularly noteworthy in the above list of top jumpers. Health and wellness is another category that has been boosted by the coronavirus pandemic—and Swisse has done a particularly good job of capitalising on Australians' love of staying healthy.

Swisse has "completely outspent and outgunned" the competition, Robinson says, including heavily investing in celebrity endorsements such as with Australia’s "biggest star" Chris Hemsworth, his wife Elsa Pataky, and a swathe of other "perfectly-chiseled athletes and local stars". But in the vitamin game, there can only be one winner, apparently. In parallel to Swisse's growth—Blackmores, which has "long been the Australian winner in this space" according to Robinson—fell out of the top 100, tumbling 30 places to 124th.

BMW (91st) was the second highest winner in the top 100, up 50 places. Japanese carmaker Toyota (99th) also grew, up 14 places, but fellow Japanese brand Mitsubishi (100th) fell down by -21 places.

Turning now to the biggest fallers, this list includes several high-end luxury and fashion brands—which again could be influenced by the global pandemic and the impact on spend.

Ralph Lauren (112nd) had the biggest fall at -68 places, pushing it out of the top 100, along with Louis Vuitton (down -6 to 106th) and Zara (down -11 to 107th).

Those that fell out of the top 100 include:

Nikon (104th) down -12
Moccona (105th) down -33
Louis Vuitton (106th) down -6
Zara (107th) down -11
Hogs Breath (114th) down -31
Omo (115th) down -17
Ralph Lauren (122nd) down -68
Blackmores (124th) down -30
Hertz (126th) down -35
Bose (129th) down -36

Gucci (56th) and Calvin Klein (58th) experienced some of the bigger drops too, down -21 and -18 places respectively. Lower down the ranking, Tommy Hilfiger fell a significant -59 places to 186th.

Within the top 100 list, beauty conglomerate L’Oreal (62nd) experienced the largest fall of -30 places.

Within the top 100 list, those that fell 10 places or more include, in descending order:

L’Oreal (62nd) down -30
YouTube (92nd) down -25
Gucci (56th) down -21
Fujitsu (81st) down -21
Mitsubishi (100th) down -21
Masterfood (88th) down -20
Ebay (61st) down -19
Calvin Klein (58th) down -18
Bunnings (87th) down -17
Schweppes (35th) down -14
Gloria Jeans (70th) down -13
Microsoft Xbox (89th) down -13
Gatorade (45th) down -11
Priceline (63rd) down -10

Looking beyond the top 100, social media platforms Snapchat (177th) and Twitter (139th) had by a wide margin the biggest growth in the top end of Australia's Top 1000 ranking, up a mammoth 259 and 192 places respectively. Rival Instagram (77th) enjoyed a much more modest boost of 18 places, while parent company Facebook (29th) bumped up 4 places. It is somewhat surprising Facebook rose at all, given the criticism angled at it by the Australian government over the past year.

"Social media and its continued growth seemingly has no end in sight with Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook performing strongly – although missing is TikTok, who we hear from good sources has been adding users in the millions from December onwards," notes Robinson. "While recording less modest growth, Facebook continues as the powerhouse of social media and remains a valued platform for consumers, despite courting controversy."

YouTube (92nd) was among the biggest fallers in the top 100 brands, down -25 places. Robinson says the video platform's performance "feels like the anomaly" amid the growth of all of its rivals, and could be a sign that its dominance may be fading as it is facing growing competition from new entrants.

"Maybe our already short attention spans are shifting towards the new dopamine inducing 15-second Instagram/Facebook stories, TikToks and Snapchats," he suggests.

"I would have to imagine that post-COVID-19 we will see YouTube turn around very quickly. Whether it’s cocktails, knitting, home haircuts, or DIY, YouTube’s well-earned place as the home of inspiration and education, should see its popularity (and usefulness) rise again," he adds.

Robinson notes that whilst this research ended just on the cusp of the COVID-19 lockdown (the survey was conducted between February 21 and March 19, 2020) many of the trends discussed above "will only have been accelerated".

Finally, looking to the top 10, Panasonic fell three places to 10th, while Visa was pushed out to 12th (down two slots). Woolworths lifted one place to 7th as rival Coles fell to 4th—more on the rivalry between the two supermarkets here.























Nike joined the top 10 at 9th place (up three slots). Much further down the ranking, fellow sporting manufacturer Reebok (145th) enjoyed an enviable 53-place boost. 

Campaign Asia

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