Tech dominates India's top 100 brands, FMCG names struggle

An analysis of India's top 100 brands, according to consumers. Which made significant gains in 2019, and which lost their stripes?

Brands on the go in India, clockwise from top left: Ola, Maggi, Jio and Coca Cola
Brands on the go in India, clockwise from top left: Ola, Maggi, Jio and Coca Cola


It’s durable at the top, as the consumer durables category continues to dominate India's top 10 brands this year, as revealed in a detailed survey by consumer insights firm Nielsen, in partnership with Campaign.

While Samsung and LG remain at the top of the rankings, holding their number one and number three spots from last year, Sony and Philips have also enhanced their presence in consumers' minds by advancing one rank each to sit pretty in fourth and eighth positions respectively.

Lloyd Mathias, a former marketing director, consumer PCs, Asia Pacific and Japan for HP isn’t surprised by Samsung’s continued dominance in the top Indian brands list. “Mobile phones and technology are big categories. The Galaxy Note fiasco Samsung had in 2017 was a small blip and was handled very well. Over the next few years, we might see some pressure on Samsung as the smart phone category is seeing more and more brands enter and spend loads on advertising. The devices are constantly in our faces and the category has been at a high for a decade,” he said.

S Subramanyeswar, group chief strategy officer, MullenLowe Lintas Group, echoed Mathias’ views and attributed the dominance to the world-class technology the brand provides. He said, “It continues to maintain its standards as a world-class technology brand by reliably responding to ever-changing consumer expectations of today by being useful, creating products, services and the necessary tools that serve their needs.”

India’s telecom players are conspicuous by their absence in the top 10 even as the country has witnessed, and continues to experience, the outcome of a telecom revolution. Reliance’s Jio leads the telecom services players and occupies the 30th spot in India's top 100 brands. Airtel comes next at rank 46, while Vodafone trails at rank 97, shedding as many as 25 spots in a year when the brand has seen a merger with rival brand Idea. Both of Vodafone’s rivals (Airtel and Jio) have improved their ranks compared to 2018.

In the tech space, Google drops two ranks to settle in the ninth position, while Amazon also drops two spots, landing in 12th. Apple drops a rank, too, settling in the seventh spot.

Both Mathias and Subramanyeswar expressed surprise at Amazon being missing from the top 10 list in 2019. The brand was 10th in 2018 and dropped two spots to number 12 in this edition.

“It’s surprising to see Amazon drop out (of the top 10) because it is one company that truly reinvents itself before reinventing the industry and does it consistently. Ola’s entry (up to number five from 20) is interesting as I put it in the same basket as Amazon, Netflix, etc. as they improve our lives in very personal ways. The rest of the list, I guess is as expected, though honestly, I’d have imagined more new age tech brands making an entry,” said Subramanyeswar.

Mathias added, “Over time, digital brands will make a far higher impact than a physical brand. So brands like Sony and Philips could drop and be replaced by brands like the likes of Facebook, Uber, Oyo Spotify and Gaana. These consumer facing digital brands will start growing over time and push ahead.”

In the coming years, Mathias also expects brands like Jio and Airtel to make it to the top 10, as they are ‘significant and visible players in the market’. “They’ve made a big difference to the lives by making data accessible with lower costs,” he added.  

Among FMCG brands, Nestlé holds on to its number two spot. However, the company’s star brand Maggi drops four ranks to take its perch in the 15th position. Amul, which was at number four, drops to six.

Among the fast climbers this year are taxi aggregator Ola and FMCG challenger Patanjali. Ola zooms up from its previous year’s position at 20 to become the fifth ranker this year (rival Uber climbs only five places to settle at rank 16, by comparison), and Patanjali also sees a huge surge in fortunes, rising from 45th position last year to settle at number 13 this year.

Barring Patanjali’s meteoric rise, there is not much good news for India’s FMCG brands. Coca-Cola drops from rank 13 to 20, while Pizza Hut drops from 17 to 21. There’s some reason to flash a Colgate smile as the dental care major moves up three ranks to take the 23rd rank. Johnson & Johnson that has been facing headwinds because of quality issues for some time now has also dropped ten ranks to take the 29th rank in this edition of the survey.

India has the largest and fastest growing audience for YouTube. But in the top 100, the brand ranks at a lowly 73 – though it’s an improvement if you consider that the brand was not even in the top 100 in the last year’s edition of the study. The country’s obsession with social media does not do any wonders to the ranking of facebook. The social media giant drops 10 places to settle at rank 41. India is crazy about TikTok and Whatsapp, but these brands find no spot in the top 100. However, Instagram appears in the top 100 at the 81st rank—it was not in the top 100 last year.

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