Stocktake: SA’s top brands announced

Banks and beer head up the most valuable South African brand rankings released by the WPP/Kantar BrandZ survey today, 1 September.

Banks and beer head up the most valuable South African brand rankings released by the WPP/Kantar BrandZ survey today, 1 September. Overall though, the value of South Africa’s top 30 brands has dropped by 30% due to the country’s worsening economic conditions and the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Top 30 SA brands

First National Bank has risen to Number 1 with a brand value of $2.8 billion, in the BrandZ Top 30 Most Valuable South African Brands ranking, released September 1, 2020, by WPP and Kantar. The cumulative value of the Top 30 brands in 2020 is $29.7 billion, down 20% from 2019. As in other regions, South African brands have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. This global crisis came on the back of the ongoing macroeconomic challenges faced by the country as its government debt was downgraded to junk status. In difficult global and local conditions, First National Bank outperformed its rivals with a brand value of $2.8 billion in the third BrandZ ranking of South African-born most valuable brands. Its commitment to innovation to make it easy for customers to manage their lives drives a broad remit that includes a multi-feature banking app, as well as facilities to book flights, buy insurance and manage car registrations and ownership. Standard Bank took the #2 spot with a brand value of $2.75 billion, with beer brand Castle at #3, at $2.72 billion. Flavoured beer brand Flying Fish, is the highest new entry in the ranking at #28 with a brand value of $333 million. Insurance group Hollard, with a brand value of $285 million, is the other newcomer, making it into the ranking at #30.

The external factors in play have compounded the pre-pandemic tendency for many major South African brands to grow through business expansion rather than innovation to enhance the brand experience. This has led to low brand equity, especially in comparison with leading brands in other countries where BrandZ undertakes valuation rankings. As a result, South African brands are vulnerable in the currently difficult climate, which has highlighted that brand building will be key to recovery. Brands bucking the trend in South Africa include retail and pharmacy chain Clicks (up five places to #24), which is the best performer in the 2020 ranking, having increased its value by 10% to $407 million. It expanded both its overall retail network and the number of in-store outlets to increase accessibility and convenience for consumers, which also helped to drive a 31.2% rise in pharmacy sales in the weeks prior to lockdown.

What the pandemic has done, is highlight the need for brands to be responsible and contribute to society. BrandZ analysis shows that consumer expectations of brands which should act more responsibly,  have tripled in the last 10 years; and that 9% of a brand’s equity (a key element in the calculation of brand value) is now driven by corporate reputation. Brands with a clearly defined purpose to benefit communities and society are becoming increasingly important to consumers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, 90% of South Africans believe that brands should talk about how they can be helpful in everyday life. Meeting this consumer need has the potential to drive long-term growth for brands in South Africa; brands in the Global Top 100 Most Valuable Brands ranking with a high purpose score grew 175% in value between 2006 and 2018, compared to 70% for those with a low score. In South Africa, premium retailer Woolworths (#9, $959 million) was identified as the country’s most responsible brand. Its ‘good business journey’, in which it commits to caring for the environment, people and communities with activities such as responsible and sustainable sourcing initiatives, has contributed to Woolworths being recognised in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and the FTSE4Good Emerging Index Series.

Capitec Bank (#12, up from #17 in 2019 at $840 million) performed best against the ‘purpose’ measure in the ranking, indexing 128 (against an average of 100). The brand has focused on meeting consumers’ needs with initiatives such as using WhatsApp for easy communication, Sunday opening, and the practical, ‘human-centric’ financial advice available on its website. Pick n Pay, which rose three places in the ranking to #17 with a brand value of $672 million, is another company that has actively demonstrated social responsibility, uniting with other partners on the Feed the Nation campaign to provide meals for vulnerable people. During the pandemic it has partnered with an on-demand beverage delivery service to provide grocery essentials via a contactless system.


The PEP brand refresh

PEP has launched a brand refresh across all its 2,350 stores and brands, including its home and mobile outlets. As the largest single brand clothing retailer in Africa, PEP says this demonstrates its confidence in retail and in South Africa. CEO Jaap Hamman said: “This is much more than just a logo change, it’s a bold statement of our confidence in the future of PEP and of the country.” Refreshing the 55-year-old retailer’s branding is a major task which will take several years to complete. The new identity will be expressed in every touchpoint across PEP, PEP CELL and PEP HOME, including integration into the full suite of retail campaign collateral. Hamman explained that the COVID-19 lockdown simply confirmed the brand’s commitment to a process they were working on for quite some time. “We’ve been talking to our customers, looking at our market, improving our positioning of lowest prices and evolving the way we do things. We’re now in a position to confidently communicate the changes PEP has made, over many years, in a relevant and contemporary way.” PEP marketing executive, Beyers van der Merwe, emphasised the PEP Sikhula KunYe (growing together) culture would remain central to the brand’s values. He added that they would be bringing more consistency into their offerings and communication.


NetFlorist takes the cake

From flowers to veggies to cake – NetFlorist has expanded its online offering further to include Château Gâteaux cakes. Like fresh food produce, own consumption alcohol, and groceries, Château Gâteaux is a sweet addition to the new lockdown range of the online retailer’s product offering. The cake categories include: Swiss Carrot, Southern Red Velvet, Rococo Chocolate, Mozart, Cookies & Cream, Chocolate Nostalgia, Chocolate, and Andreas Baked Cheesecake. Over 6,000 cakes have been sold as either a gift on their own, since the range went live in May 2020. Fun fact: “I miss you” messaging has increased by 82% since #lockdownSA was implemented. “Château Gâteaux is just one of the brands NetFlorist has on boarded as a supplier, in recent months. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to test e-commerce companies’ agility. NetFlorist has a great e-tailer foundation. With a UX-friendly site, fine-tuned operations, and a substantial fleet, bringing new suppliers on was a no-brainer,” noted Jonathan Hackner, co-founder of NetFlorist.

This week in numbers:


According to a global survey undertaken by EY, 42% of consumers believe the way they shop will fundamentally change during and after COVID-19; with multiple sources forecasting that social commerce will contribute 5-7% to global retail sales by 2022. To this end, Ogilvy South Africa has launched its own Influence Marketing division, entitled InfluenceO, with Dylan Joubert at the helm. InfluenceO will assist clients in making the most of this new channel as part of their marketing mix and will offer an end to end, full service and integrated approach that does not only focus on identifying influencers as so many other platforms do, but develops strategic and creative answers to brand briefs. Ogilvy says it sees InfluenceO helping brands to navigate these changes through influence led campaigns, removing the stress and anxieties as much as possible, as businesses and consumers figure out just exactly how life will change post the virus.

QUOTE of the week:

“Retailers don’t have the luxury of focusing solely on the short-term impact of COVID-19. The familiar retail experience that we’ve come to know will evolve and many of the changes the industry is implementing to counter the effects of the pandemic will become permanent, resulting in a different trading environment. We’ve started to refer to these types of pandemic-related industry changes as The 3 Waves – spanning from the immediate changes that ensured stability in the earliest days; to more long-term, strategic changes that will become institutionalised.” – Mark Thomson, Director of Retail and Hospitality Solutions EMEA, Zebra Technologies (formerly Motorola Solutions), writing in


*Stocktake is a weekly roundup of current FMCG retailing and brand news, curated and edited by Retailing Africa Publisher & Editor, Louise Burgers. Keep the industry updated and send your announcements and news to:


Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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