‘Future proof’: Chinese spirits company Kweichow Moutai takes second place in 2018 FutureBrand Index

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Chinese spirits company Kweichow Moutai has taken second place in the 2018 FutureBrand Index – an index that looks at the 'futureproof factor' of the world's top companies.

The company – which has the vast majority of its sales in China – beat other beverage giants on the basis of its value, fast growth, and alignment with the affluent tastes of the new Chinese middle class.

What makes a brand ‘future proof’?

The FutureBrand Index is a global perception study that reorders PwC’s ‘Global Top 100 Companies by Market Cap’ on perception strength rather than financial strength.

The Index looks at how ‘future proof’ the world’s 100 most prominent companies are, based on the views of 'an informed global public'.

The companies are measured on 18 indicators across six key perception categories of ‘purpose’ and ‘experience’. This could be in terms of products that people value more than those of their competitors; a company that has strong ideas and principles; innovation, authenticity, is trusted by consumers, or contributes to consumers’ wellbeing.

Factors that help determine how ‘future proof’ a company is includes having a clear vision of the future; building a strong emotional connection; delivering sustainable value; and redefining a category.  

“Some of these companies may be surprising,"​ says FutureBrand, which compiled the list. "In previous years, our research has demonstrated that organizations who top the Index have a measurable competitive advantage, because more people want to buy from, pay more and work for them.

"Not just that, but there is often an inverse relationship – or ‘cap gap’ - between financial performance and perception strength.”

Of the 25 ‘most future proof brands’, 13 are from the US, six are from China (including one from Hong Kong), and one from each of Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Taiwan.

Chinese spirits company Kweichow Moutai takes 2nd​ position in the Index, despite being a new entrant, coming behind top scorer The Walt Disney Company.

The list was last compiled in 2016. 

In the 2018 Index, Nestlé comes in at number 24 (up 10 places); Coca-Cola is number 39 (down 7 places); Unilever is number 50 (down 19 places); AB InBev is number 66 (up 23 places) and PepsiCo number 82 (down 4 places).

Top beverage brands

Kweichow Moutai #2

The state-owned liquor maker produces a high-end version of baijiu. It styles itself as China’s national drink, and has invested in marketing campaigns in recent years. Kweichow Moutai is the world's most valuable distiller, according to Bloomberg. The vast majority of its sales come from China.

FutureBrands says Kweichow Moutai’s number 2 position in its rankings is evidence of how Chinese companies are on the rise (the list now features more Chinese firms than ever before). In the case of Kweichow Moutai, it scored stronger on all attributes of the rankings versus sector attributes.

Its emergence is also being led by the affluent tastes of the new Chinese middle class; and the company is also moving into e-commerce, agriculture and financial services.

Its position on the PwC ‘Global Top 100 Companies by Market Cap’ position is #58.

Nestlé #24

Nestlé has risen in the rankings since 2016, going up 10 places to #24.

“Learning to adapt its business through periods of technological and consumer change could well be behind its highest 2018 uplifts in perceptions of pleasure, trust, innovation in products and services that are genuinely useful, and having a great story. Nestlé is strongly perceived to be mastering a balance between its health & wellness orientated purpose and the brand experiences it delivers,”​ says the report.

“48% of people say they would buy products and services from Nestle – 15% above the sector average and an increase on its 2016 score.

“And more people report feeling ‘passionate’ about the brand than they did in 2016 (rising from 17% to 20%).”

Its position on the PwC list is #19.

AB InBev  #66

AB InBev has moved up the rankings by 23 places since 2016 to #66.

“Like Nestlé, ABInBev is perceived to be attending well to both purpose and experience drivers, evidenced by increases this year in attributes such as a company with strong ideas and principles and also having a clear story,”​ says the report.

“Being seen as innovative is also a strength for ABInBev, especially if it is able to improve perceptions linked to individuality - an opportunity area for Nestlé moving forward.”

Its position on the PwC list is #22.

PepsiCo #82

Despite slipping four places in this year’s ranking, FutureBrand highlights PepsiCo as 'one to watch' - saying the company is making strategic decisions (such as the recent purchase of Soda Stream​) ​that are in line with the some of the fastest growing drivers in this year’s FutureBrand Index – “such as inspiring change for the better, wellbeing and enhancing people’s lives.”

Its position on the PwC list is #49.

You can read the full report here.

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