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Amazon, Asian Paints and Tata Tea emerge as most powerful ‘purpose’ brands in India

Covid-19 has amplified the need for brands to do more than focus on profits alone

While the fundamentals of brand-building remain the same, in a post-pandemic world what has changed is the expectation that the brand will stand for something more – beyond its functional use. In India too, perceptions of a brand’s purpose and ability to ‘make people’s lives better’ have emerged as crucial to establishing the brand’s meaningful quotient and boosting prospects for its long-term growth.

According to the recently-released 2021 edition of the annual BrandZ India report by Kantar, brands that have led with a clear sense of purpose to make consumers’ everyday lives better have ranked higher.

As per this ranking, Amazon, Asian Paints and Tata Tea have emerged as the leaders in India across technology, non-FMCG and FMCG categories of the most purposeful brands respectively.

The winner’s recipe

  • In the changing marketing landscape, Covid-19 amplified the need for brands to do more than focus on profits alone, and the rankings reiterate that the brands that have taken a bolder social stance have managed to shine. Increasingly brands are being valued across the globe on ESG criteria (environmental, social and governance) alongside traditional factors, such as valuations and earnings growth.

  • In the technology ranking, Amazon at the top is followed by Zomato, YouTube, and Google and Swiggy jointly in fourth place, followed by Flipkart.

  • The non-FMCG ranking is dominated by telecom brands, with Samsung and Jio jointly second, followed by MRF, Tata Housing and Airtel.

  • The FMCG category includes Tata Tea followed by Surf Excel, Taj Mahal, and Parachute and Maggi both in the fourth position, followed by the confectionery brand Britannia. The Kantar report includes an analysis of 418 brands across 30 categories.

Emerging patterns in what Indian consumers deemed ‘purposeful’ in 2021

  • Tech brands making daily life easier: Tech brands show how everyday convenience contributes to brand purpose. These brands have been able to scale up and showcase a wide range of products, plus enter new categories at a time when consumers were desperate for at-home and delivery solutions. Everyday convenience in turn made lives easier and fueled saliency for brands.

  • FMCG brands taking a social stance: FMCG brands that score high on brand purpose have shown that purpose and profit can go hand-in-hand. They are working to reduce their environmental impact and promote social causes – which in turn attracts customers, partners and talent.

  • Non-FMCG brands adding newer associations: Non-FMCG brands are adopting marketing strategies that promote the brand in ways that look beyond the function of product or service; the key is to do more than just meeting consumers’ immediate needs, adding new and potentially differentiating associations.

Experts speak

  • Brand purpose provides an anchor as well as reassurance to consumers amid constant uncertainty. According to Deepender Rana, executive managing director South Asia, Insights Division, Kantar: “A larger societal purpose is even more critical to success for brands in India and real purpose flows from, and builds on, a brand’s existing core values and DNA.”

  • This, of course, precludes vague slogans and one-off ‘corporate charity’ events that do not work. “It is not about jumping on the bandwagon of the latest fashionable cause either. Instead, this reinforces the need to understand and measure if a brand’s purpose is perceived as adding real meaning to consumers’ lives,” he added.

  • Soumya Mohanty, managing director client and quantitative, insights division, Kantar, said: “Purpose can work as a strategy for brands when it’s based on the right consumer insights and executed effectively.”

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