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Preeti Reddy, CEO - South Asia, Insights Division, Kantar
Preeti Reddy, CEO - South Asia, Insights Division, Kantar analyses the 2020 BrandZ Top 75 Most Valuable Indian Brands r...

Brands that demonstrate they care for consumers, communities and the environment will find favor with today’s and tomorrow’s consumers: Preeti Reddy, Kantar

Preeti Reddy, CEO - South Asia, Insights Division, Kantar analyses the 2020 BrandZ Top 75 Most Valuable Indian Brands r...
  • WPP and Kantar released the 2020 BrandZ Top 75 Most Valuable Indian Brands ranking today.
  • Preeti Reddy, CEO - South Asia, Insights Division, Kantar talks to us about some of the major highlights from the reports while telling us what brands need to do to future-proof themselves.
  • She also told us what will help brands become a more important part of their consumer's lives and some factors that have helped the top few brands grow in an otherwise difficult year.
The 2020 BrandZ Top 75 Most Valuable Indian Brands ranking, released today by WPP and Kantar revealed that brands that were quick to adapt, were not scared to innovate and were agile were able to grow, despite adverse market conditions.

To understand some of the larger trends that ruled the markets, we spoke to Preeti Reddy, CEO - South Asia, Insights Division, Kantar.

The report revealed that this year’s ranking was worth $216 billion in brand value which was a 6% dip over last year and was caused due to a slowdown in the brand value of companies in the banking and automotive sectors. However, despite this overall decline in brand value of the Top 75, 26 brands increased in value and five were new entrants.

Speaking about the factors that could have possibly led to this increase in brand value, Reddy said, “The 26 brands that have gained value are largely in the food , retail, telecom and digital services and the pandemic actually helped these brands. Food was an obvious one but even in food retail saw good growth. These are brands that have adapted very well to the new reality. They have gone digital, created safe shopping environments but most importantly they have connected with consumers and satisfied the new consumer needs very well. For instance brands like Zomato, Airtel, Jio are among the top 10 brand. It’s a whole ecosystem that has come together to help consumers when they were at their most vulnerable. They have been creative, agile and innovative in how they catered to consumer needs.”

It is also interesting to note that India’s top brands performed well against other countries where declines in total brand value were much greater. Explaining the reason for this, Reddy said, “The Indian brands that have gained have done that by improving on all pillars of equity. They have remained meaningful, have differentiated themselves, and have been salient. Global brands have acted more upon salience which means they’ve been around and visible but the efforts on meaningful differentiation have been lower in them than Indian brands.Also in India, all brands have headroom for growth because of factors like penetration levels. So the multiplier on anything that you do in India is always higher and if you do it right, you’re rewarded more.”

Rural v/s urban

Over the years, brands have realized the importance of the rural market which is slowly having more money in hand. This presents a huge opportunity for most brands, and most of them have realized that for them to succeed in India, they cannot be a metro-only brand.

Elaborating on this, Reddy added, “For most brands, rural has been a growth driver. Last few years, rural growth had slowed down but its picking up again now, thanks to good monsoons and also because there is more money going into rural. Marketers have realized you can no longer remain metro-only. India’s rural and small town are a hub for workers because now with the migrant movement, people have gone back home. Data has shown us that by the end of this decade, the residence in thousands of small towns will actually mirror profiles and aspirations of their big city counterparts. So, rural can no longer be one more thing they’re doing. Marketers have realized that and are already acting upon it.”

The role of communication

Communication also took on a much larger role in the last few months and purpose, trust and sustainability became very important. Brands that were able to communicate with their consumers, telling them about their brand purpose, and taking a strong moral stand, stood out for consumers.

“Consumers today want to know that a brand cares not only for its shareholders but other stakeholders like its consumers, the community and the environment. Brands that demonstrate that will find favor with today’s and tomorrow’s consumers. Consumers will prefer a brand that they feel has those attributes. They are also looking for brands that clearly say that they are a responsible corporate entity. Brands like Castrol which talks about environmental responsibility and Tata Salt and Tata Tea are all prime examples of brands that have taken a moral stand on various issues and have benefited from it,” shared Reddy.

Meanwhile, brands that have shown a strong sense of responsibility towards its employees, like Maruti and the Tata’s have also been viewed very favorably by today’ consumers, added Reddy.

When asked what are a few things that brands should definitely not do during adverse times, Reddy said that brands needed to ensure they did not stop communicating with their consumers. “We saw a lot of brands become completely silent during the lockdown. There could have been various reasons for that, there were supply chain disruptions, and certain brands perhaps did not fall under the essential category. However, it was the brands’ responsibility to tell consumers why they were silent. Bad communication is bad, but being completely silent isn’t good either. These brands will now find that it will take them some time to actually reconnect with consumers because they forget,” explained Reddy.

The importance of investing on brand-building

Over the years, we have come across many examples where we have seen brands that have actively invested on brand-building succeed. Reddy said that BrandZ has been able to demonstrate just this over the years.

“What BrandZ year after year has demonstrated is that companies that invest in brand-building and see it as an investment rather than a cost actually reap the rewards and benefits because consumers reward them for it. They stay close to their consumers, continue to be meaningful and continue to be visible. They build equity with consumers which holds them in good stead when times are bad. Brand building is a continuous, constant effort, not something you should simplyswitch on and off,” she added.

Lessons on future-proofing businesses

The lockdown experience has been a good teacher and the lessons learnt during these past few months can help brands be better prepared for what lies in the future.

So what are a few things that brands can do to future-proof their organizations? “During these past few months, we have seen marketing and the consumer playbook undergo a complete change. We’re unlearning and re-learning the principles of marketing because something like this had never hit us before and we still don’t know what else the future will bring. In such a scenario, the most important thing is agility. It’s the ability to do things fast and to seek opportunities that new environments and scenarios are throwing up and respond to those new consumer needs that will help a brand succeed,” said Reddy.

On a brand that did this well during the pandemic, Reddy spoke about Wildcraft, which is a brand that was primarily known for its outdoor clothing, footwear and bags. However, looking at the opportunity that the lockdown brought with it, Wildcraft started manufacturing masks and has been increasing its production for the offering, and doing well.

“Their core offering was backpacks and outdoor clothing. But since people weren’t going out, the brand would have been hit hard. However, they seized the opportunity. That’s the kind of agility you need. They also showed a lot of creativity and innovation in the way in which they responded to the crisis. Another brand that did well was Center Fresh. They came up with a campaign that asked people to stay fresh behind the mask. In today’s scenario it’s a real need and they’ve used the situation to their advantage and done it creatively, while keeping their messaging completely aligned to the brand. That’s the kind of agility that will be needed in the future.”

Reddy also noted that the brands that were constantly in touch with their consumers and responded to their needs fast were the ones that gained.