Marketers urged to tap into ‘golden age of B2B brands’

digital-marketing-2Business-to-business marketing might get a bad rap compared with consumer activity but a new analysis reveals it has huge growth potential, with the world’s top 100 B2B brands accounting for $2trillion in brand value.

That is according to a new study by Brand Finance, backed by the International Advertising Association (IAA) and B2B agency Stein IAS, which shows the market is dominated by major companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle and Shell.

Even so, the report also reveals that despite the $2trillion in brand value of the top 100 B2B brands almost $1 trillion of value remains untapped. In fact, this figure accounts for just 12% of the $17trillion in their total business value, a sum that compares unfavourably with B2C brands, where B2C brand values of $2.8trillion account for 17% of their $16trillion business value.

Closing this gap would be worth an additional $900bn in brand value to B2B enterprises. Research finds that the returns of highly branded organisations (companies with a high brand value to business value ratio) outperform the S&P 500. This indicates an opportunity for marketing and brand-led growth to drive additional value to B2B businesses by closing the gap on their B2C peers, the study claims.

Every year, Brand Finance puts 5,000 of the biggest brands to the test, and publishes over 100 reports, ranking brands across all sectors and countries. The world’s top 100 most valuable business-to-business brands are included in the Brand Finance Global Most Valuable B2B Brands 2023 Index.

Microsoft has the highest B2B brand value of any brand globally at $137.5bn, 72% of Microsoft’s total brand value of $191.6bn. The tech giant dominates the Index with a B2B brand value almost double that of the next highest ranked brand, which is Amazon (B2B brand value of $70.6bn).

IAA UK executive director Kirsty Giordani said: “This report provides robust evidence to demonstrate the enormous potential that exists in B2B marketing. This is a dynamically growing sector, and we’re thrilled that B2B has rightfully earned its place in the spotlight, gaining momentum as a creative, emotional, and brand-led channel.”

In addition to calculating brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance.

Compliant with ISO 20671, Brand Finance’s assessment of stakeholder equity incorporates original market research data from over 100,000 respondents in 38 countries and across 31 sectors.

Deloitte leads with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 91.3/100, a 1.1-point year-on-year increase. This earns it a AAA+ brand rating, one of only two brands to achieve this rating the Index. Deloitte also has the tenth largest B2B brand value at $34.5bn and is also the world’s most valuable commercial services brand in terms of overall brand value.

Rival EY (B2B brand value of $25.7bn) is the second strongest brand in the B2B ranking, with a BSI of 89.9/100, and AAA+ rating. PWC ($25.3bn) in fourth, rounds off a trio of ‘Big-Four’ firms included at the top of the ranking for brand strength. PWC’s BSI score was 88.8/100 with AAA rating.

China’s largest B2B brands performed strongly in the ranking, with a combined B2B brand value of $491.0bn. Of the 100 B2B brands included in the ranking, 23% are based in China. China was topped by only the US, which accounted for 41% of the brands, with a combined B2B brand value of $973.2bn.

China’s top performing brands in terms of B2B brand value were State Grid (B2B brand value of $58.9bn), ICBC ($42.7bn), and China Construction Bank ($35.4bn).

B2B2C is a very significant part of the B2B brand ecosystem and this index. There are very few B2C counterparts, as in B2C2B.

B2B2C is a business model/marketing strategy where one business (for example, a manufacturer) sells goods or services to another business (for example, a retailer or distributor) to reach an end consumer. This is slightly different from the conventional pure-play B2B brands and hence why they have been included in a table of their own.

Google is the world’s largest B2B2C brand, with a B2B brand value of $281.4bn. Well-known media brands, including TikTok/Douyin ($65.7bn), Facebook ($60bn), and WeChat ($47.4bn) follow.

Brand Finance chairman David Haigh commented: “We are living in a golden age of B2B brands, where status and value are amplified by technology and scientific breakthroughs. This era is characterised by the potency and agility of omnichannel, data-led, marketing campaigns in driving rapid growth in the B2B market.

“Digitalisation and digital scale-ups are dominating the landscape, taking advantage of the ever-expanding possibilities of technology, and driving better customer experiences. These experiences are forcing rapid adoption of updated technology across categories. Best practices are traveling fast and enhancing value.”

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