Faaez Samadi
Jun 12, 2018

The category killers: Top brands in food, cars, luxury, streaming

Nestlé and Chanel are among the brands dominating in their categories this year.

The category killers: Top brands in food, cars, luxury, streaming

In our Asia's Top 1000 Brands research, certain brands stand out as powerhouses in their categories. Here, a closer look at the champions of food, streaming, cars and luxury.

Nestlé peerless in food

The food industry is known to be a highly competitive environment, with a swathe of leading brands fighting over consumer loyalty with ever more tasty and original products. Yet in this battleground there is one seemingly unassailable leader in the eyes of APAC consumers: Nestlé.

In a world where consumers electronics and apparel dominate the upper ranks of the Top 1000 list, Nestlé is a remarkable outlier in being so highly placed. The brand has seen continuous presence in the top 10 since 2010, and in the top five since 2012. Although it has dropped to fifth place, its lowest position in seven years, Nestlé significantly outperforms its rivals.

(Source: Nestle/Flickr)

It's closest challenger is Heinz at position 24 — a huge achievement in itself given that in 2017 it was placed at 106 — followed by Meiji at 28. Korea’s Lotte comes next at 35, followed by India’s much-loved Maggi at 36. Kraft, a new entrant brand in 2018, debuts at 44. Five big brands, none of which are close to Nestlé.

Nestlé’s position owes much to its enormous strength in India and China, Asia’s two largest economies, where the brand ranks second and fifth, respectively. It also has strong showings in the Philippines (3), Indonesia (5) and Hong Kong (5). The only major market where there remains work to be done is Japan, where Nestlé relatively wallows at 23.

Netflix streams ahead

The OTT streaming battle is well underway in APAC and, for now, the spoils are going to Netflix. Making its debut in an admittedly nascent Top 1000 Brands sub-sector, Netflix dominated its streaming rivals, coming in at position 70 overall. Following the brand’s expansion in January 2016 into 130 new countries, including the likes of India, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, it seems Netflix is exerting the same influence in APAC as it does in the West.

Placing at 70 is all the more impressive when comparing Netflix to its closest rivals. Fellow new entrant Amazon Prime Video lands at 291, a long way away. China’s IQiyi debuts at 411, and Malaysia’s Iflix, also a first-timer, comes in far behind at 584.

Of course, other telcos and media firms have or are creating streaming services, and as this sector grows, time will tell whether the likes of SingTel or Tencent become stronger rivals to Netflix. But for now, it’s clear Netflix is wearing the crown.

Japan driving the automotive sector

Taken as a whole across the Top 1000 Brands, the picture for the automotive sector is a rather bleak one. Around a decade ago, the likes of Toyota and Honda were riding high in the Top 10, but since then there has been a sharp decline, followed by a steady presence in what sports fans might term ‘mid-table mediocrity’, the highest firms hanging around the 50-place mark.

However, motor companies are still big, global brands, and taken in isolation, the automotive sector reveals the continued strength of Japanese firms, relative to all others. While luxury European brands such as BMW, Mercedes and the like are perceived to be top of mind for APAC consumers, this is largely misconstrued because of affluent markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong and now China. But for the majority of APAC consumers, Japanese brands are the winners.

Their dominance is illustrated by the presence of Japanese motor brands in the top four spots in the Top 1000 automotive sector. Most successful is Honda, up five places from 2017 at 27. The next closest, Yamaha, is some way away at 48, followed by Bridgestone at 66 and finally Toyota at 68. That Toyota remains so far behind Honda speaks to still having not recovered from its 2010 recall crisis, after which its rating plummeted in Top 1000 and only marginally recovered.

Chanel luxuriates in its prominence

The luxury sector has seen something of a see-saw recently in Asia-Pacific. There was significant growth for years, driven primarily by China’s rapid wealth expansion and penchant to spend it on nice things. But we are currently in something of a lull as many brands, who saw that growth as reason to invest heavily in China and other APAC markets, don’t see that investment coming quite to fruition.

According to Bain & Company, recovery in China is on the cards, forecasting around 22 percent growth in the country’s luxury sector this year. Good news for all, because in this year’s Top 1000, almost all the luxury brands have seen a drop in their rankings. All, that is, except the consistent star performer, Chanel.

Sitting at 8 in the rankings, it is the only luxury brand in the top 10, and more impressively, throughout all the ups and downs of the luxury market, it has been ever-present in the top 10 since 2012. That pre-dates the brand’s 2015 decision to have price parity between China and its other markets, showing that Chanel’s appeal goes beyond just the price tag.

The brand’s performance comes into sharper relief when looking at its rivals. Of late, Gucci has been on its heels, only three places behind Chanel in 2017 at 11. This year, Gucci has fallen to 19. Dior, with which Chanel competes in one of our brand battles, used to be a peer; it now languishes in 78, a 42-place drop from 2017.

The story is the same for many other luxury brands: Giorgio Armani dropped to 49, LVMH stayed at 50, Burberry fell to 84, Tiffany & Co to 104, Bvlgari to 112, and Cartier to 122. Rolex took a tiny step forward from 57 last year to 51 in 2018; hardly an assault on Chanel’s ivory tower.

Obviously the breadth of Chanel’s product offering compared to watchmakers' is a big advantage, but it is its dominance over all luxury brands, whether direct or indirect rivals, that is remarkable. It has been criticised for not acquiescing to the e-commerce phenomenon, particularly in China. On this evidence, woe betide its competitors if it does decide to up its digital game.

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