Bonfire of the Brands: Consumer attitudes toward brand leadership and what it takes to get ahead

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September 2015

The future of brand leadership: Taking the pulse of consumers

Which institutions, products and services are truly leading the way in consumers' eyes? What are the pathways to rising and staying at the top? What are the factors driving long term success?

To understand what's next, in this edition of the Consumer Intelligence Series we empirically examine how the global brand leadership landscape has shifted in the 21st century. Diving into key consumer sectors -- Technology, Retail & Consumer, Entertainment, Media and Communications, and Banking -- we uncover insights into brand strategies that have proved resilient amid decades of rapid change. The study is global, with market studies in the US, Brazil, China and the United Kingdom. It explores the characteristics consumers define as indicative of brand leadership. The lessons are applicable to executives across all departments as they strategize and organize for success.

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Will your brand survive and thrive? PwC Consumer Intelligence Series: Bonfire of the Brands

PwC's latest consumer research study 'Bonfire of the Brands' uncovers shifts in what consumers value in top brands. This animated video tells the story of what months of consumer research, salons with experts and discussions with industry leaders tell us about what strategies contribute to the resilient brands of today and tomorrow.

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Perspectives from brand leaders - PwC Consumer Intelligence Series: Bonfire of the Brands

PwC's latest consumer research study 'Bonfire of the Brands' uncovers shifts in what consumers value in top brands. This montage includes perspectives from industry leaders who are responsible for brand strategy at their organizations. Interviewees include: Richard Whittington, SAP; John Kennedy, Xerox; Bennett Porter, Survey Monkey; Clay Cowan, Gilt Groupe; Greg Revelle, Best Buy; Tami Reller, Optum; Johannes Hartmann, Estee Lauder; Randy Browning, PwC; Carol Sawdye, PwC

Key findings

Brand leadership has changed dramatically over the past twenty years, and there’s more chaos ahead

Between 1999 and 2014, 47% of brands fell off the list of top 100 leader brands. When we expanded our leader brand set to include product brands, that attrition rate jumped even higher, to 72%. If current trends continue, the large majority of today’s top leadership brands can expect to be replaced in the next decade.

Across industries, we can learn about gaining leadership status among consumers
  • The Technology sector outperforms other consumer industries. 72% of consumers say they think technology and electronics companies are showing strong brand leadership.
  • Consumer-facing brands are not only on the hook for delivering authentic, good-for-you products, they are being challenged to deliver social reform.
  • Millennials are 37% more likely than adults ages 55+ to say brand leadership is an important consideration when they purchase entertainment and media.
  • One-third of all financial services innovation is happening outside of the category, a reality challenging the banking sector today.
Consumers today want
  • Transparency about the processes, labor, ingredients and materials
  • Privacy protection as a priority
  • Brands that speak authentically
  • Brands that treat employees well
  • Brands that are visionary


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Matthew Lieberman

Marketing Leader, PwC US

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