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Market Insight: Three is a charm for Toyota

Growing German: Audi's brand value grew by 43 per cent in this year's Millward Brown BrandZ Top 100 Brands list.

Toyota takes out most valuable global auto brand list for third year running

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Market Insight logo29 May 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

JAPANESE automotive giant Toyota has taken top spot for the third consecutive year in a study of the world's most valuable car brands, keeping German luxury car-maker BMW at bay, while 2015 marks Land Rover's first appearance on the annual list.

The Millward Brown BrandZ Top 100 Global Brands list, now in its tenth year, analyses the value of global brands, and while a number of car-makers recorded significant gains in the past 12 months, Toyota cemented its number-one placing in the automotive category with a value of $US28.9 billion.

While it was enough to ensure Toyota maintained its crown, the result was a two per cent dip over last year's result. Millward Brown highlighted the Japanese car-maker's leadership in hybrid technology, but added that in the past year it had worked to strengthen its “technical achievements with emotional appeal”.

BMW, which led the automotive list in 2012 after usurping Toyota, grew by two per cent to $26.3bn, its best result since 2008 when it was valued at $28bn.

The New York-based market research company identified the global roll-out of BMW's environmentally friendly 'i' sub-brand, that includes the i3 EV and plug-in hybrid city-car and the i8 sportscar as reasons for its rise.

Mercedes-Benz maintained its third place ranking of the past two years, but its brand value grew by just one per cent over last year to $21.7bn Honda also held steady in fourth place despite a five per cent drop to $13.3bn, while American giant Ford hung onto fifth spot with a value of $13.1bn, representing an 11 per cent increase over its 2014 result.

Ford's main American rival, General Motors, had no entries, with Chevrolet dropping out of the top 10 in 2015 after its appearance in the list last year.

Millward Brown highlighted GM's large-scale recalls and the congressional inquiry into faulty ignition switches in the past 12 months, as potentially having an impact on its standing.

In terms of the United States market, Millward Brown pinpointed a recovering American economy which helped the automotive industry to its best sales since 2006, with 16.5 million units shifted, “driven by pent up demand, low interest rates, and cheap gas at the pump”.

Nissan was the last car-maker to make the overall top 100 brands at 93, placing sixth in the automotive list, up three per cent to $11.4bn.

Bullish German luxury car-maker Audi rose one spot to seventh on the back of a massive 43 per cent increase to $10.1bn.

Millward Brown said a number of global brands sold fleets to car-share companies as a way to introduce new customers to the brand, adding that luxury brands “balanced this opportunity for mass exposure against potential brand dilution”. In Sweden, Audi launched its Audi Unite program where up to four people share the lease of a car.

Despite a drop-off in sales in the US, Volkswagen continued to grow in China last year to be the top-selling brand there, which had an impact on its 10 per cent increase to $9.2bn brand value.

Indian-owned British brand Land Rover debuted into the top ten in ninth spot with $4.9bn value, with Millward Brown saying it benefited from the “sweet spot” where the popularity of SUVs meets with the “desire for luxury”.

Finally, Toyota's luxury arm Lexus returned to the list in tenth spot after being kept out last year by South Korean manufacturer Hyundai.

Lexus' brand value was $4.3bn, and the market research company identified its number one ranking in two independent surveys for dependability, which has helped attract buyers looking for luxury and reliability.

In the overall list, technology companies were dominant, with Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM taking the top four places ahead of Facebook, which doubled its brand value, in 12th spot.

Toyota's ranking in the overall list saw it place 30th, well behind top-ranked Apple that recorded brand value of a whopping $246.9 billion, up 67 per cent over last year.

Japan and Europe dominated the automotive list with four brands apiece, while the United States was represented once and India – via the United Kingdom – also had one entry.

Millward Brown noted that car-makers enjoyed strong sales growth in the US and China, but suggested that Europe's economic situation had an impact on some results. The automotive category is one of just two categories in the BrandZ list that has not rebounded to pre-global financial crisis levels.

According to Millward Brown, societal trends that challenge growth in the category include platform and model sharing by car-makers to reduce costs, which can result in “sameness” of models.

The report also said younger buyers no longer rely on cars for freedom or to define a self-image, and that more people are choosing modes of transport based on sharing, rather than ownership. In terms of the methodology behind the BrandZ list, Millward Brown says it conducts “worldwide, ongoing, in-depth quantitative consumer research” to get a clear global picture of brands by market and by category.

Three million consumers and more than 100,000 brands in 50 markets are studied, and Millward Brown calculates the financial value and the contribution of the brand to establish to the overall value.

2015 Most Valuable Global Auto Brands
RankingBrandBrand value change %
1Toyota-2
2BMW+2
3Mercedes-Benz+1
4Honda-5
5Ford+11
6Nissan+3
7Audi+43
8Volkswagen+10
9Land RoverN/A
10LexusN/A

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