Living in one of the most locked down markets during the Covid pandemic, Australian consumers have sought comfort and dependability. Ice cream brand Magnum has witnessed the biggest rise in 2021's ranking of Australia's top 100 brands, which branding experts attribute to both an innovative product and marketing strategy, and consumer demand for "a treat at home".
"Depending on your lockdown experience, there is ‘working from home’, and ‘dealing with everything going on and needing a treat at home’," explains James Graver, MD of Australia, Essence. He says Magnum and Hitachi, two of the top risers in Australia's top 100 list, are two brands that have positioned themselves to help consumers manage in the pandemic by "displaying continued dependability through their product range and flexibility".
Magnum's rise from from 144th place to 95th place shows why "innovation matters, even in a pandemic", says Rose Herceg (pictured, left), chief strategy officer, WPP AUNZ. The brand keeps itself top of mind in several ways: it continually adds new flavours to its range, has launched popup stores allowing consumers to 'personalise' their Magnum, and uses star power to appeal to younger segments—such as its January collaboration with Miley Cyrus for a concert series online.
Simon Hakim (pictured, right), CEO of Melbourne-based creative branding agency Hunter, explains: "Smart marketers behind brands like Magnum have always been quick to learn from FMCG challengers, whereby they embrace new trends and supercharge their innovation. For example, there’s a dairy-free and certified vegan version of the Magnum Classic. What’s not to like about that? The plant-based category, non-dairy, vegan and no-to-low alcohol categories are going insane at the moment and will only continue to grow."
Meanwhile, Japanese multinational conglomerate Hitachi has "an enormous range of products including ones that make working from home, teaching from home, and living from home a touch more bearable", says Graver.
Airbnb also notched up more than 100 places in the Australian ranking. As international travel has been largely suspended in Australia and heavily reduced worldwide, Airbnb has prospered from a surge in domestic bookings. The homestay marketplace jumped from 189th to 142nd in the overall Asia's Top 1000 Brands consumer survey, conducted by Campaign Asia-Pacific and NielsenIQ.
In Australia's top 100 list, those that lifted 20 places or more include, in descending order:
Magnum (95th) +144
Airbnb (77th) +137
Hitachi (94th) + 106
7-Eleven (90th) +84
Daikin (97th) +69
Ralph Lauren (59th) +63
Coffee Club (86th) +62
Zara (49th) +59
Dell (81st) +59
Toyota (56th) +43
Christian Dior (84th) +39
Pizza Hut (26th) +29
Fifa World Cup (89th) +28
DHL (69th) +27
Blackmores (98th) +26
YouTube (70th) +22
Mitsubishi (79th) +21
Booking.com (64th) +20
Michael Hill (83rd) +20
7-Eleven is another brand that has surged during the pandemic due to its essentials offering. It rose 84 places in Australia's rank to join the top 100 at 77th place, and it jumped from 101st to 60th place in the Asia-Pacific ranking.
The biggest shifts in Australia's top 100 brands occur at the bottom of the list—there was little change among the top 10 beyond the decline of Nestlé by eight places, to 16th place. Despite its decline, Hakim views the FMCG as "one to watch over the coming years".
"I’m super excited to see what comes out of their cross-category innovations R&D Accelerator in Switzerland. We’ve seen plenty of attempts from the likes of Amatil X (Coca-Cola Amatil), ZX Ventures (Carlton & United Breweries/Asahi) and Lion Unleashed (Lion/Slingshot) locally or P&G Ventures in the US—but this looks really different and entrepreneurial," says Hakim.
Food brands and food delivery services stand out in Australia's top brands. Five new brands on the listing—McCain, Uber Eats, Menulog, Birds Eye, and Ingham—are all within the food convenience space and jumped straight up to the high ranks. All these brands have product propositions focused on making life a little easier, from easy food preparation to delivering meals, making them "especially relevant during the Covid pandemic and lockdowns", says Essence's Graver (pictured, left).
New entrants to Australia's ranking:
Uber Eats (14th)
Birds Eye (48th)
Home delivery with a local flavour
Food delivery services Menulog and Uber Eats have witnessed a rapid ascension in Australia through a combination of convenience and stand-out marketing campaigns.
"From Uber Eats delivering on one of the most real-time content integrations through the Australian Open, to tapping into a series of much-loved characters around the world, or Menulog revamping its brand led by an iconic 90s rapper who remains relevant as ever—these brands have opened the door to nostalgia and new youth audiences," Graver says.
Matt Robinson (pictured, right), partner and MD of AnalogFolk Sydney, says Uber Eats has "really found its voice" in Australia. Its now global campaign 'Tonight I’ll be eating' was a pre-pandemic success, scooping several awards, and has since gone on to feature major celebrities from Kim Kardashian to Elton John. The brand has maintained local relevance in Australia with tennis stars, local comedians, and singing group Wiggles—a "brilliant strategy that is delivering clear results", says Robinson.
Menulog has also opted for star power—it brought on US rapper Snoop Dogg as an ambassador in November 2020 to broaden its appeal among younger audiences and witnessed some its "best performing weeks" as a business shortly after, AdNews reported.
"I can’t get the song out of my head," says Hunter's Hakim.
UM Australia group director Angela Swayn (pictured, left) notes: "Home delivery services was not even seen a category a few years ago, so its inspiring to see the growth and expansion of the likes of Uber Eats and particularly Menulog in this market. Equally it demonstrates how Australians have the ability to quickly shift their share of wallet and appetite to meet even more convenient options."
The FMCG category was in a state of flux in Australia—this category accounted for the majority of brand losses and those that fell out of the top 100 ranking.
In Australia's top 100 list there were far fewer significant losses. Those that fell 20 places or more include:
Dove (73rd) -49
Coca-Cola (58th) -42
Nescafe (82nd) -23
Maggi (47th) -26
Samsonite (72nd) -22
There were 14 brands that joined the top 100 in 2021, versus a total of 19 brands that fell out of the top 100, including:
- Golden Circle
- Dairy Farmers
- Mount Franklin
- Harley Davidson
The final two brands, Virgin and Extra, disappeared from the Australian ranking altogether (Virgin Atlantic joined at 204th).
Essence's Graver explains: "For brands that have exited the top 100, the noise around them—be it cultivated or natural—has been fairly minimal. For new entrants, their presence, or helpfulness, cannot go unnoticed. Ultimately, it shows that the combination between relevance and saliency are key cultivators of brand preference."