Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Superbrands - where to next?

The annual Superbands survey always makes interesting reading – who has pushed who from the top spot, new entrants in the top 500... It gives a bit of an insight into what people care about and how brands are moving into the consumer consciousness.

This year, expanding on a trend we’ve seen in recent years, tech takes precedence. While Microsoft took number one, bumping Google to number three (after Rolex) the order isn’t of so much importance as the volume of IT brands.

The Telegraph quotes Shar VanBoskirk, analyst at Forester: "You may drink a Coca-Cola or Starbucks drink once or twice a day, but most of us interact with Microsoft and Google every hour of our lives. These technology companies have entered into our homes, our offices - even our friendships."

So the question is who or what is next?

The FT raised this question earlier in the week, covering a research report by Wolff Olins, that tipped five food and drink brands from emerging markets to become global brands. As it stands now, there are no African brands in the list (Columbian coffee, Saudi fruit juice, Lebanese chocolate, Chinese wine and Indian liquor). So no tech here then?

Their focus on the East comes from market size – if you are to become a dominant brand you need dominant position in sales and customers – hence India and China. But Africa represents an enormous opportunity of almost 1 billion consumers, with increasing buying power. Not only that, but the “what works in Africa works anywhere” position makes for a hotbed of innovation and new ideas. MXit, the IM platform for mobile, developed in South Africa, is already looking at 17 million registered users across the world.

It will be interesting to see the ensuing battle between established western brands and new names from emerging markets. While everyone seems to be looking East, I’ll have my eyes peeled for the Starbucks of Sub-Saharan Africa or the Rolex of Rwanda.

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