Despite a 39 per-cent drop in its first-quarter year-on-year profits, Samsung still triumphs in the perception of Asian consumers. It remains the leader of our Top 1000 Brands ranking for the fourth year running and remains the top brand in all markets except Japan — where it falls well outside the top 100 — and Taiwan and Vietnam, where it comes fourth and second respectively.
Perhaps it’s fortunate for Samsung that research for this report was conducted around the same time as the launch of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, which went on sale on April 10. The phone went on sale with 20 million pre-orders and has raised Samsung’s market value by about US$16 billion since the phones were announced in March, according to Bloomberg.
As part of its comeback strategy, Samsung spent US$13.8 billion on R&D in 2014 and the results show in the rave reviews of the glass-and-metal Galaxy S6.
The brand also debuted the Samsung Gear VR at the start of the year. The device, powered by Oculus Rift, is still in its early stages of development content-wise, but our colleagues at Stuff have been impressed with its build and quality. The brand has also replaced Qualcomm as the manufacturer of chips for Apple’s iPhone.
Samsung’s lead among the Top 1000 is also due to its top-five ranking in at least 14 consumer electronic sub-categories. Besides smartphones, it also leads in mobile phones, refrigerators and TVs.
After a long period in the weeds, things are at last looking up for Sony. Consumer perception of the brand has remained strong despite poor business performance in recent years, and against the odds it recently posted an operating profit of US$170 million for the year ending 31 March. Cost-cutting and sales of parts have helped, and while TV and smartphone sales remain weak, the PlayStation 4 has contributed to a more positive outlook. In terms of perception, Sony remains strongest in Taiwan and Vietnam, where it again comes first in the rankings.
The FMCG giant rises this year to overtake Apple, having spent three comfortable years in fourth place. Organic growth in Asia, Oceania and Africa stood at 5.7 per cent in Asia — again the highest for all regions but down on last year’s 7.4 per cent. It performed strongly both in emerging markets where it introduced new products, and in more established ones, including Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. Nestlé performs strongest in China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, coming second in all four.
Thinking in pure brand terms, it is surprising that Apple continues to trail the likes of Samsung and Sony. Business is booming — the company just reported revenue of US$58 billion in its Q2 2015 earnings — and it has arguably a much more clearly defined image and set of values than either of its closest competitors. Yet, it falls another place this year. While Apple retains strong equity, it is increasingly challenging for it to maintain its image as a leader in innovation. The iPhone 6 has drawn mixed receptions and Samsung has outpaced it in smartphone sales. Apple’s strongest markets, according to the ranking, are Singapore, Australia and Thailand, where it places second.
Panasonic is still the top brand in its home market of Japan, and elsewhere makes its strongest showing in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, where it ranks fifth. While Panasonic’s core remains consumer electronics, the brand continues to expand into less familiar areas. The company has been focusing more on community level initiatives and promoting local development, production and energy-saving products and initiatives.
Nike has always pushed the limits of its marketing, and its efforts have been best received in the Philippines, where it ranks fifth, and China, Korea and Thailand, where it comes sixth. With significant resources invested into the brand, the bar is constantly rising. Nike has taken significant steps to tackle challenges in local markets such as ‘sneaker speculation’ in Greater China. Turning this into an opportunity to engage fans, Nike launched ‘Locker room’, a campaign and mobile website that allowed users to pre-order sneakers and enter a draw for limited-edition products.
Aside from its home market of Korea, where it comes in just after Samsung, LG enjoys its strongest brand positioning in Indonesia, at fourth. It comes a respectable fifth in Australia and India, but seems to have failed to make much of an impression on Chinese consumers. While LG reported a net loss of US$189 million in Q4 last year and discontinued its plasma TV operations to focus more on its OLED and LCD TV product lines, the brand’s mobile business picked up financially. Recently, localised branding efforts have played a key role in bringing LG’s product brands forward.
Despite slumping sales in the compact camera market worldwide, Canon retains its position, bucking a trend of three successive years of single-position decline. The camera brand fares best in Malaysia and the Philippines, where it ranks sixth and seventh respectively. Canon recently lowered its 2015 sales forecast to 7 million cameras from 7.8 million. As a sign of innovation, Canon recently announced that it was acquiring digital start-up Lifecake, a photo-sharing app for families.
Chanel holds on to ninth position for the fourth consecutive year as the only luxury retail brand in the top 10. The label is particularly strong in China and in Taiwan, where it sits in third and second place respectively. In the luxury sub-category, Chanel enjoys the top spot in China, Taiwan and South Korea, but is less loved in Indonesia, where it ranks 10th. Earlier this year, Chanel lowered prices in China due to the falling value of the Euro.
Adidas holds on to 10th position overall for the fourth consecutive year as its biggest competitor, Nike, moves up to sixth. In the sportswear sub-category the brand falls behind Nike in all markets with the exception of Taiwan and Indonesia, where it still manages to trump its rival to take the top spot in the ranking. The brand continues to be strong in the areas of running and football, and its sports-inspired fashion brands Originals and Neo also achieved solid growth over the past year.