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Amazon Is No Longer the World's Most Valuable Brand. Here's What Is

By Rich Duprey - Jun 7, 2021 at 6:00AM

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It's still a powerhouse in second place, but no longer the top global brand.

Despite Amazon.com's (AMZN 3.53%) value to the consumer soaring during the COVID-19 pandemic as buying goods online became a necessity for many, the e-commerce giant wasn’t able to sustain its own brand value.

Brand consultants Brand Finance said for the first time in three years, Amazon did not sit atop the list of the 500 most valuable brands in the world. That's not to say it still isn't valuable or that it didn't grow, since it still ranks No. 2 globally with a value of $254.2 billion, a 15% increase.

Yet other brands, especially other e-commerce brands, saw even better gains to march higher on the list. Let's see how some of the most valuable brands in the world fare.

Friends looking at smartphones

Image source: Getty Images.

Retail got it right

Many e-commerce brands saw their value surge last year. Alibaba (BABA 1.36%), for example, saw its worth more than double to over $39 billion, making it the second-fastest-growing brand on the survey, No. 1 being Tesla (TSLA 3.89%), which soared 158% to $32 billion.

More interesting, perhaps, is that Alibaba's Taobao online shopping platform is worth even more than its parent -- $53.3 billion -- after a 44% rise in value last year, as is the similarly situated Tmall, which rose 60% to $49.2 billion.

Rival JD.com (JD -2.77%) also had a big year, jumping 82% to $23 billion, as did Japan's Rakuten, which ran 155 positions up the list to 246th place after gaining 49% to reach a value of $7.7 billion.

E-Commerce Takes Center Stage

2021 Rank

Brand

Brand Value

% Change

2020 Rank

2

Amazon.com

$254.2 billion

15.1%

1

18

Taobao

$53.3 billion

44.2%

36

24

Tmall

$49.2 billion

60.4%

48

30

Alibaba

$39.2 billion 

108.1%

92

68

JD.com

$23.5 billion

81.9%

142

Data source: Brand Finance Global 500 2021. Table by author.

The cheaper the better

The survey results indicate that retail remains important, so long as it is online or with a discount retailer. 

Walmart (WMT 0.21%) was the most valuable brick-and-mortar retailer at $93.2 billion, good enough for sixth place on the list, but Target, Dollar General, and Costco all did well for themselves, gaining between 28% and 30% to also climb the list.

Also, deep-discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl performed well, climbing up the ranks on robust performance and building upon already strong reputations. Curiously, though, TJX's (TJX 1.00%) off-price brand TJ Maxx was actually the fastest-falling brand on the list, dropping 32% in value to just $6.5 billion. 

While the apparel retailer has long been one of the industry's shining stars during difficult times, this shows just how hard the pandemic was on retailers not deemed "essential" by politicians who forced them to shut down. 

Technology powers the globe

Yet it wasn't just retailers who shone during the coronavirus outbreak. Tech stocks were the real star of the show, driving higher the brand values of technology companies themselves as well as powering increases in those brands that leveraged tech innovations to their benefit.

Technology remains Brand Finance's most valuable sector, with 47 separate brands represented for a total value of just under $1 trillion, or $998.9 billion.

For example, Uber Technologies (UBER 5.60%), which often argues it is really a tech company, not a transportation business, saw its brand value soar 34% to $20.5 billion, big enough to crack the top 100 brands and land at No. 82.

But as businesses were forced to transition to a new model during the pandemic by having their employees work from home in many instances, software providers enjoyed large gains in value. 

SAP, salesforce.com, and Adobe all enjoyed robust growth last year, though in terms of size they still lag the industry giants.

Software Becomes Essential

2021 Rank

Brand

Brand Value

% Change

2020 Rank

4

Microsoft (MSFT 2.43%)

$104.4 billion

20%

4

5

Samsung

$102.6 billion

8.6%

5

15

Huawei

$55.4 billion

(14.9%)

10

43

Intel (INTC 2.46%)

$31.8 billion

15.7%

54

53

IBM (IBM 1.57%)

$27.4 billion

(17.8%)

42

Data source: Brand Finance Global 500 2021. Table by author.

One could quibble with the designation of Alphabet's (GOOG 2.68%) (GOOGL 2.63%) Google division as media rather than technology, but it was the third-most-valuable brand after Amazon, though that was down from second place last year, despite rising 1.4% to $191.2 billion in value primarily because revenue declined during the pandemic.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

So what was the most valuable brand in the world? Apple (AAPL 2.62%), which rocketed 87% higher to $263.4 billion and reclaimed the title it last held in 2016.

Brand Finance credits CEO Tim Cook with diversifying Apple away from reliance upon the iPhone to expand its digital business and its services, mainly the App Store, but also Apple Podcasts, Music, and TV.

Services generated $32.6 billion in 2020 for Apple and serves as a key driver of the tech stock's bottom line. The consultancy notes it was the services business that helped push Apple to become the first company with a market capitalization of $2 trillion last year.

As it continues to innovate, it's quite possible Apple may sit atop the world's most valuable brands for years to come.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Adobe Systems, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, Costco Wholesale, JD.com, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, and Tesla. The Motley Fool recommends Intel, SAP SE, The TJX Companies, and Uber Technologies and recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1,920 calls on Amazon, long January 2023 $57.50 calls on Intel, long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple, short January 2022 $1,940 calls on Amazon, short January 2023 $57.50 puts on Intel, and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
AAPL
$169.24 (2.62%) $4.32
International Business Machines Corporation Stock Quote
International Business Machines Corporation
IBM
$131.50 (1.57%) $2.03
Microsoft Corporation Stock Quote
Microsoft Corporation
MSFT
$289.16 (2.43%) $6.86
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOGL
$119.70 (2.63%) $3.07
Intel Corporation Stock Quote
Intel Corporation
INTC
$35.37 (2.46%) $0.85
Amazon.com, Inc. Stock Quote
Amazon.com, Inc.
AMZN
$142.69 (3.53%) $4.86
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Stock Quote
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
WMT
$129.14 (0.21%) $0.27
Target Corporation Stock Quote
Target Corporation
TGT
$169.67 (2.76%) $4.55
Tesla, Inc. Stock Quote
Tesla, Inc.
TSLA
$883.07 (3.89%) $33.07
Costco Wholesale Corporation Stock Quote
Costco Wholesale Corporation
COST
$539.82 (0.75%) $4.00
Salesforce, Inc. Stock Quote
Salesforce, Inc.
CRM
$188.61 (3.50%) $6.37
The TJX Companies, Inc. Stock Quote
The TJX Companies, Inc.
TJX
$63.03 (1.00%) $0.62
Dollar General Corporation Stock Quote
Dollar General Corporation
DG
$254.39 (0.17%) $0.43
SAP Stock Quote
SAP
SAP
$96.07 (2.46%) $2.31
Adobe Inc. Stock Quote
Adobe Inc.
ADBE
$438.40 (2.77%) $11.83
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOG
$120.65 (2.68%) $3.15
JD.com, Inc. Stock Quote
JD.com, Inc.
JD
$55.50 (-2.77%) $-1.58
Alibaba Group Holding Limited Stock Quote
Alibaba Group Holding Limited
BABA
$92.43 (1.36%) $1.24
Uber Technologies, Inc. Stock Quote
Uber Technologies, Inc.
UBER
$32.80 (5.60%) $1.74

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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