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I haven’t always been a believer in brand surveys especially those done in India. We tend to have skewed databases owing to lazy researchers and then again, there is very little information given by the brands under the survey to the research agency. But thankfully, all of that is changing. These surveys tend to help the research agencies more than the brands they assess. They make money from selling these reports both on the strength of substance and vanity.
The Millward Brown-WPP Brandz 50 Report has very few surprises but what is interesting is that it is more a thesis on the quintessential Indian consumer than any path-breaking insights that would have us startled. Consider this: banks are unusually high in the top-five. One would have thought an FMCG brand like Coca Cola or Cadbury would have been there right at the top, but the reality of such surveys is that they take mass ambiguity into account rather than minority consumer user groups. For instance, in the top-10, we have four banks: nowhere in the world would banks occupy such high positions in a brands top-table survey. So, one would wonder if India, unlike other nations, still trusts its financial institutions? Please also note that none of these banks is as high an advertising and marketing spender as some of the FMCG brands; so recall is certainly not the issue. Maybe their brick-and-mortar avatars add to their recall. Could these banks have superlative consumer experience and would this not add or detract from the overall consumer trust in these brands? I would imagine there would be some traction on this account but the survey doesn’t seem to suggest that.
For the survey to base its insights on the following premise is a bit rich:
“Being meaningful and different builds value—India’s most valuable brands are highly relevant to consumers and differentiate themselves through service, new offerings and brand experiences. One such example is personal care brand Colgate (No.28)—even after 70 years in India the brand has successfully remained relevant and continues to differentiate itself from the competition”
This seems to suggest that Colgate, which is a daily-use brand in cross-segmented consumer homes, is at number 28 but then banks and generic brands such as Bajaj are way up. What is strange is that the survey has no linkages to profit and performance (or for that matter sales and scale) or else how would you explain