Hardware chain Bunnings has been named Australia’s strongest brand after shoppers flocked to the retailer during the pandemic.
The Wesfarmers-owned chain was awarded the top spot for improved customer service, strong recommendation scores and impressive product innovation amid a surge in home renovations during lockdowns last year.
But supermarket giant Woolworths wasn’t far behind.
Woolworths took second spot for keeping its shelves stocked during the depths of the pandemic – and was named Australia’s most valuable brand in a separate category for the third-year running after growing 9 per cent to $13.7 billion during 2021.
The annual Brand Finance rankings are calculated based on perception of a company’s quality, value for money and customer service – with Bunnings scoring 88.5 out of 100 and Woolworths scoring 86.9.
In the global stakes, social media platform TikTok claimed top spot as the world’s fastest-growing brand, reaching a valuation of US$59 billion ($82 billion) this year – up 215 per cent on the previous 12 months.
Apple remained the world’s most-valuable brand out of the 5000 firms assessed by Brand Finance, valued at $US355 billion ($498 billion).
Local rankings dominated by COVID players
Mark Crowe, chief executive of Brand Finance Australia, said the local rankings were dominated by retailers that played a role during the pandemic.
“It comes as no surprise to most people that the retailers that were able to remain open and continue trading during lockdown were afforded a benefit,” Mr Crowe said.
Brand Finance uses customer metrics like brand awareness, customer recommendations and consideration as well as financial metrics to rank companies on the strength and value of their brands, Mr Crowe said.
“The pandemic has enabled these retail brands to look at bringing in innovative techniques, whether that’s in their supply chains or in how they provide services,” he said.
Brian Walker, retail expert and boss at consultancy Retail Doctor Group, said Bunnings had distinguished itself in a tough year for Australians.
“In periods of uncertainty, people gravitate towards trust,” he said.
“Bunnings is what I would call a trust brand. We saw the uncertainty in the economy due to COVID and people reverted to what they know.”
Woolworths also set itself apart by playing a “team Australia” role over the past year, Mr Walker said.
The supermarket chain did a particularly good job promoting vaccines and investing in COVID-19 safety protocols within its store networks.
“Both these businesses [Woolworths and Bunnings] make incremental improvement all the time,” Mr Walker said.
“They’re both good examples of continuous improvement.”
Brand Finance noted that Woolworths managed to increase its brand value despite spinning off its Endeavour Drinks business last year, which could have easily diluted the value of its brand.