Interbrand Best Japan Brands 2021: Announcing the Top 100 Japanese Brands
- Overall growth for Japanese brands down -3.9% over the previous year, with 47 of the 100 brands decreasing in value amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
- Toyota ranks #1 in Best Japan Brands for the 13th consecutive year
- First time in ranking history that all automotive brands experienced negative growth
- WORKMAN increases by 57%, the highest growth rate this year and the 2nd highest in the history of Best Japan Brands
- FANCL, Rinnai, and MORINAGA debut in the ranking
TOKYO, February 25, 2021 – Interbrand Japan, Japan’s biggest branding company (headquartered in Shibuya, Tokyo, President & CEO: Masahito Namiki) has announced Best Japan Brands 2021, a ranking of Japanese brand values using its unique Brand Valuation method to convert brand value into monetary value.
This is the 13th year these rankings have been announced. Best Japan Brands uses the same valuation methods used in Best Global Brands, a global brand value ranking Interbrand has announced every year since 2000, and investigates brand value in terms of business assets using global standards by comparing the value of Japanese brands and leading global brands using the same system of measurement.
Overview of Best Japan Brands 2021
In just a few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on the behavior, thinking, and values of people worldwide. It continues to alter society. In particular, the changes in values have not only transformed the way people work at companies, but also the very premise of manufacturing and services, making 2020 a year of challenges for businesses trying to adapt to this ever-shifting environment.
Neither is this temporary. COVID-19 can be viewed as a precursor of further disruption to come. This “wave of change,” symbolized by the digital transformation (DX) that was underway before the pandemic, means we have entered an era where the values held by customers and the very nature of companies—including employees, organization, and management—are undergoing major upheaval. As part of this, the wave of change has spread to branding, too.
How has this year’s Best Japan Brands changed in this historical turning point?
The year-over-year growth rate for all 100 brands ranked in Best Japan Brands 2021 was -3.9%, a contrast to the +9% overall growth in Best Global Brands 2020 announced last autumn (growth rate for last year’s Best Japan Brands: +0.9%). COVID-19 has affected many Japanese brands, with 47 of the 100 ranked brands decreasing in value and all automotive brands experiencing negative growth for the first time in the ranking’s history.
Meanwhile, several industries, including Personal Care and Retail, saw a clear delineation between successful and unsuccessful brands within the same category, allowing us to examine what makes a brand strong during a crisis.
In an increasingly data-based, digital society, customers now have the insight to determine what brands are “good” according to their own values, and can share this with others. Social media has also enabled customers to exchange enormous amounts of information at breakneck speed, leading to ever-changing and ever-diversifying values.
Under these circumstances, brands must now provide a brand experience that involves the customer (Engagement) under strong leadership (Leadership) and maintain a continuous relationship with the customer (Relevance). COVID-19 has increased these demands on brands.
Leadership: Building a Strong, Adaptable Brand
- Daikin, “A Company That Provides Solutions With Air” (#26, +18% YoY); Ajinomoto, “Enhancing Life With Amino Acids” (#43, +19% YoY), BANDAI NAMCO, “More Fun For Everyone” (#55, +19% YoY); Mercari, “Creating a Circular Economy” (#94, +19% YoY); and other brands with a clear purpose were able to take fast, cohesive action even during the coronavirus pandemic because employees had a clear enough sense of direction to know what to do, leading to significant growth for both the brand value and for business.
- Additionally, brands that have made brand value a corporate goal, such as Kirin (#22, +11% YoY), Yamaha (#30, +8% YoY), and Ajinomoto (#43, +19% YoY) have promoted branding across the company based on strong messages from top management, leading to increased brand value.
Engagement: Building Interactive Relationships Between Corporations and Customers
- Nintendo (#8, +31% YoY) released the game Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which enabled players to interact with other players during the pandemic, a period of forced isolation for many. WORKMAN (#78, +57% YoY) is a growing brand that involves, interacts, and co-creates with customers, for example by creating Product Development Ambassador contracts with bloggers who are ardent fans of the brand and share its values, then working with them to create unique products from the customer’s perspective.
- UNIQLO (#6, +16% YoY) continued to create a unique brand experience during the pandemic, releasing masks using its proprietary AIRism technology and launching “RE.UNIQLO,” a clothing recycling program that creates “a new life for clothing.”
Relevance: Strengthening Bonds With Customers to Create Loyalty
- As a creative entertainment brand, Sony (#3, +14% YoY) has increased its presence through proactive social contribution, such as creating a US$100 million relief fund to help people around the world affected by COVID-19, including front-line medical workers, teachers, and children learning remotely, and people throughout the entertainment industry.
- Fujifilm (#38, +21% YoY) has earned trust as a comprehensive, fast-responding healthcare company, establishing systems to increase production of the Avigan tablet, an anti-influenza medication that may be effective against COVID-19, and starting development of AI-based diagnostic support technology for pneumonia caused by COVID-19.
- Nitori (#69, +39% YoY) has, by rapidly developing products tailored to customer needs, increased the stylishness and fun of its products while maintaining low price and functionality, evolving into a brand chosen for emotional reasons.
Best Japan Brands 2021 (#1 to #50)
Best Japan Brands 2021 (#51 to #100)
Top 10 Growing Brands
WORKMAN (#78, +57% from last year)
With “high function, low price workwear for professionals” as its brand DNA, WORKMAN has established a new and unique brand position for itself by expanding its target audience to those who enjoy the outdoors and athleisure fashion. The company focuses on listening to comments from employees, franchise stores, and customers with its policy of “evolution based on what people are saying.” By creating Product Development Ambassador contracts with bloggers who are big fans of the WORKMAN brand and who share its values rather than with influencers, WORKMAN has developed unique products from the perspective of the customer. WORKMAN has continuously promoted a branding strategy that excites customers, such as tailoring store interiors or products to the target audience depending on the time of the day.
Nitori (#69, +39% from last year)
Nitori has created an organizational system to increase the speed and accuracy of decision-making by eliminating the concurrent role of COO and President of Nitori Holdings and instead designating directors to each of its projects. The company also rapidly develops products suited to its clientele by producing all products in-house, from planning to manufacturing, distribution, and sales, and has added “stylish” and “fun” to its “affordable” and “functional” brand image. The company offers a convenient, seamless shopping experience both online and off with its Nitori App, which strengthens points of contact with customers and analyzes customer data. Nitori is also working to build brand appeal with its slogan “More than just the price” in the international market, based on local circumstances and market needs.
Nintendo (#8, +31% from last year)
Nintendo has established an inter-departmental system for sharing information on safety and quality as well as customer feedback, and has many programs in place to communicate with customers and incorporate feedback into future products or services. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a hit thanks to this system, as the game enables players to interact with others in a pleasant world despite the forced isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the opening of the Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan in spring 2021, Nintendo will further increase the spaces where people can experience the brand, both online and offline.
Fujifilm (#38, +21% from last year)
Fujifilm continues to transform its business structure in a dynamic way in response to changes in the world of business. Using technologies developed in its film business, Fujifilm has expanded into the fields of healthcare, media recording, optical and electronic video, and imaging. In the field of healthcare in particular, the company has used proprietary technologies in the areas of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment to work toward solving social issues such as unmet medical needs and improving access to medical services. Fujifilm has swiftly responded to social issues during the pandemic, establishing systems to increase production of the Avigan tablet, an anti-influenza medication that may be effective against COVID-19, and starting development of AI-based diagnostic support technology for pneumonia caused by COVID-19. The company is striving to achieve its corporate slogan, ”Value from innovation.”
Rakuten (#15, +20% from last year)
Rakuten has built a unique ecosystem that organically links Rakuten members to over 70 services. It has a consistent stance of grasping needs one step ahead of the times and proactively taking on innovative business with a focus on new technology, with such services as Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtual network, a partnership with Shopify that brings new potential to e-commerce, the online mall Earth Mall With Rakuten which contributes to the SDGs, and Rakuten Medical, which has commercialized the world’s first photoimmunotherapy for cancer.
BANDAI NAMCO (#55, +19% from last year)
BANDAI NAMCO has proactively developed projects that involve both employees and customers (individual and corporate) using internal and external recruitment systems in order to achieve its “IP Strategy (Intellectual Property for Characters, etc.)” listed in the company’s mid-term plan. BANDAI NAMCO has also focused on experience-based entertainment centers, such as the Gundam Cafés opened across Japan to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Gundam franchise. Amidst the pandemic, the company has made “More fun for everyone at home” its slogan, exploring what it can do as an entertainment company through a variety of measures such as making games free for a limited time.
Ajinomoto (#43, +19% from last year)
Ajinomoto has concentrated its management resources on increasing corporate brand value, employee engagement, and market capitalization in its efforts to achieve its 2030 vision of becoming “a company solving food and health issues” set forth in the company’s mid-term management plan. Despite the pandemic, the company’s clear vision has enabled each department to take autonomous and swift action. Ajinomoto has also developed a variety of measures to increase customer engagement more than ever, with the launch of a new fan community called “Food is Fun! Discovery Community,” the release of an app called “A La Table” that connects people through food, and transformation of its food information website Ajinomoto Park into one that provides food-related experiences.
Mercari (#94, +19% from last year)
Mercari strives to create a “circular economy” with its mission of “building a global marketplace that creates new value.” The company has made safety, trustworthiness, and humaneness its three “basic principles of the marketplace” in its efforts to improve its credibility and build a marketplace anyone can participate in. Mercari has also opened its first flagship store Mercari Station in Shinjuku’s Marui Main Building. Mercari has differentiated itself from other companies with unique services, such as its “Send & Receive” function, which enables users to send their MerPay balance to family and friends, and its “Belongings List” function, which promotes selling of “hidden resources” lurking in homes.
Daikin (#26, +18% from last year)
During the pandemic, Daikin has developed its message as “a company that provides solutions with air” swiftly and continuously through a variety of media, including digital media. Because of this, Daikin has become the go-to company for ventilation and has experienced enormous business growth, and now aims to be a “global company that creates new value for air and for the environment.” The company has also added elements of profundity, consideration, exploration, and passion to its reliable and serious image in an effort to transform itself into a leading global brand.
Lion (#86, +18% from last year)
As a leader in next-generation healthcare, Lion strives to improve mental and physical healthcare by creating new customer experiences and value in terms of health, comfort, cleanliness, and hygiene, with its mission of “redesigning habits to make them more fun, positive, and effortless.” The company has also strengthened its corporate branding efforts to make it consistent with this mission. During the pandemic, the company evolved Kirei Kirei hand soap from a “handwashing brand” to a “hygiene brand.” and aims to be the go-to sanitation and hygiene brand for the Japanese people.
Under its founding philosophy of “maintaining integrity and eliminating the ‘negative’ from the world,” FANCL focuses on creating unique product value and building trust and bonds with customers. The company launched FANCL Live Shopping in July 2020 to strengthen bonds with customers and better listen to their comments. Rather than one-way communication from the brand, FANCL is developing a community where customers can exchange information with each other naturally instead of simply buying products. To achieve its long-term “Vision 2030” (“Make the world healthier and more beautiful”), FANCL renovated its brand flagship store at FANCL Ginza Square for its 40th anniversary in August 2020, hosting a grand opening themed around “New experiences in beauty and health”. For the second year in a row, FANCL ranked within the top 20 of the “Customer Experience Value (CX) Ranking 2020” judged by C Space Japan, part of the Interbrand group of companies, and has otherwise strengthened brand experiences that have led to customer experience and value.
In celebration of its 100th anniversary, Rinnai redesigned its logo in 2020. The company has also promoted the ideas of “Global, Generation, and Governance” in its mid-term management plan “G-Shift 2020,” which is set to end in the 2020 fiscal year. In its effort to increase value as a global brand, the company has strengthened its brand image, regulated its visuals, and spread the Rinnai Brand throughout the company, and has even placed branding to make Rinnai a brand chosen by customers as an important theme in its mid-term management plan. Rinnai has established “Creating a healthier way of living” as its brand promise and is working to foster its brand image as one that fosters a healthier, more comfortable life.
With its vision of “Delicious, fun, and healthy,” MORINAGA’s mission is to provide valuable and inspiring products and services to help promote health and create a safe and abundant diet for people around the world. Health awareness throughout society has increased yearly due to lifestyle changes, and MORINAGA has striven to develop products in the field of wellness to meet the need for “functional, easy, and appropriate nutrition” and support a happy, healthy life.
About Best Japan Brands 2021 Brand Valuation
Criteria for Inclusion
In order to shed light on the value of global Japanese brands and enable comparison of their relative position against a common global measure, brands meeting the following criteria were selected for evaluation:
- The brand originated in Japan: The corporate or business brand is the product of a Japanese enterprise.
- Financial information is publicly available: The corporation was publicly listed as of October 30, 2020, and analyst reports are available.
- 2020 brand values were applied to brands ranked in Best Global Brands 2020.
- The brand is recognized in Japan.
Interbrand’s methodology for evaluating brand value is based on the brand’s financial strength, influence on purchasing decisions, and contribution of future earnings. In the same way that securities analysts analyze and evaluate the value of a company, we analyze and evaluate the value of a brand by asking, “What is its future earning potential?” This methodology has been certified compliant with the ISO 10668, the global standard for measuring the monetary value of brands as established by the International Organization for Standardization. The evaluation is made up of the following three specific analyses:
- Financial Performance: Project the company’s future earnings
First, we estimate the current and future revenues of the business operating under the brand. We then subtract operating earnings, taxes, and capital cost of investment to calculate future economic profit. Our analysis is based on published corporate data; future projections are based on analyst performance forecasts*.
*For analyst forecasts this evaluation relies on analysts’ estimates obtained from IFS Japan, Ltd at http://www.ifis.co.jp/. The IFIS Consensus data http://www-en.ifis.co.jp/ used is current as of October 30, 2020.
- Role of Brand: Derive the brand’s contribution to profits
Next, to derive the brand’s contribution to future economic profits as calculated in the analysis of financial performance, we analyze the brand’s influence on customer purchasing decisions. In evaluating the role that a brand plays in consumer purchasing trends, we perform benchmark analyses by industry that draw on our database of over 10,000 brand value evaluations accumulated over the past 20 years. Based on these industry benchmarks, we perform a proprietary analysis to derive a Brand Contribution Score.
- Brand Strength: Evaluate the brand’s contribution to future earnings
Brand strength analysis measures a brand’s power to inspire what the client needs to sustain future earnings—market loyalty, repeat purchases by consumers, and lock in—and discounts brand earnings to derive a present value. Our evaluation offers a systematic means of determining a brand’s risk based on 10 factors key to brand vitality, and is represented on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being a perfect brand. Brands within the same industry are compared based on these factors, and the top brands are then compared to global brands in other industries.
The Brand Strength Model 10 Factors have been updated this year.
Brand Strength Model 10 Factors
This brand strength score is then converted into a discount rate a method unique to Interbrand, and this rate is used to discount future brand profits, thus calculating the brand value. Brand Role Analysis and Brand Strength Analysis are calculated using a wide variety of published reports and other documents, which are then assessed by consultants in each of our global offices.
Update to Our Brand Strength Assessment Model
As a leader in assessing brand value, Interbrand regularly reviews its frameworks and methods to reflect how valuable brands are built and maintained. In today’s world, the speed of business has grown faster and the relationship of power has shifted toward the customer, making whether the customer accepts a brand more important than ever in building a brand. Communication has become a two-way street, and an even greater importance is being placed on action and experience. Furthermore, interdepartment cooperation has become essential to create experiences across customer touchpoints, and the way in which a brand is expressed and experienced has grown more flexible. Behavioral economics has taught us that people’s choices are more influenced by experience than ever before. Having distinctive brand assets and the role of the brand experience is becoming more important when it comes to being a chosen brand.
With these changes to the business environment, we have changed the structure of our approach to three pillars of Leadership, Engagement, and Relevance to present the process of building a brand more clearly and more profoundly while still maintaining consideration for internal and external factors. In other words, we have updated our model to show that the strong brands of today have “strong leadership,” provide “brand experiences that engage the customer,” and “have long-lasting relevance to the customer.”
Interbrand Japan Representatives:
- Masamichi Nakamura
- Motoshi Yamamuro
- Kayo Okamoto
- Manami Saito
E-mail: [email protected]
Interbrand has been a world leading brand consultancy, for over 45 years – having pioneered iconic work and forged many of the brand building tools that are commonplace across the industry today.
We know that in an age of unprecedented abundance of choice and speed of innovation, customers’ expectations are moving faster than business. While incremental change is still essential, it is no longer sufficient. It takes bold moves to leap ahead of customers and competitors. We call these moves Iconic Moves.
In collaboration with the world’s leading brands, our global team of thinkers and makers are pioneering the future of brand building. By turning customers into active participants, we help our clients strengthen their brands on an ongoing basis – our approach gives them confidence to make Iconic Moves that spark desire and create utility, driving extraordinary results.
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About Interbrand Japan
Interbrand Japan was established in 1983, the third office in Interbrand’s global network, following London and New York. Together with C Space (headquartered in Boston and London, Japanese office in Shibuya, Tokyo), a customer agency that has developed globally to help companies incorporate the customer’s perspectives into its business through online community management and co-creation workshops with customers, we provide total branding services for a variety of organizations including Japanese enterprises, international companies, governments, and public agencies. Please visit https://www.interbrandjapan.com to learn more.
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