China’s top 100 brands gained 12% in value in 2020, increasing their worth by $106.8bn to reach $996.4bn, despite the enormous economic pressures triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That is according to the latest BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands report, published by WPP and Kantar, which calculated that 14 out of 24 categories grew in value this year, with technology contributing to a quarter of the ranking's total value.

Now in its 10th year, the BrandZ study once again named e-commerce giant Alibaba as China’s most valuable brand (+9% to $153.3bn), placing the company narrowly ahead of tech rival Tencent (+9% to $151bn).

According to Kantar, which carried out the valuations, Alibaba reinforced its leading position after adopting a strategy that focused on lower tier and overseas markets, while also expanding its retail and distribution locations. In addition, it successfully aligned its logistical capabilities with consumer data to meet customers’ needs.

Premium alcohol brand Moutai was named as China’s third most valuable brand (+47% to $53.8 billion), while ICBC bank (-6% to $38.15bn) and tech firm Huawei (+13% to $37.4bn) rounded out the top five.

The impact of COVID-19 clearly left its mark this year because the entertainment sector soared 221% in value as Chinese consumers spent more time online in lockdown, while the education sector grew by 92% because of an increased need for online learning.

The BrandZ report also noted that growth among China’s top 100 brands was driven by the ability of companies to respond to major trends shaping the Chinese market, such as a desire for self-improvement and wellness, rapid urbanisation, premium products and heightened national pride.

COVID-19 accelerated these trends as consumers reconsidered their priorities to focus more on health, the environment and the welfare of the nation, the report added.

In addition, the report confirmed that Chinese brands continued to pursue global growth and to expand their international presence. For example, 17 Chinese brands now appear in the most valuable global brand rankings compared to just one in the 2006 list.

Commenting on the findings, BrandZ chairman David Roth said “Only five brands that were in the Top 10 when the rankings started [10 years ago] still remain there today.

“This year, within just a few months, we’ve seen COVID-19 have a massive impact on the way consumers shop, what they buy, and their relationship with brands.

“Through all of these changes, the successful brands are those that have embraced digital, kept pace with consumer preferences and the way they navigate their lives.”

Sourced from BrandZ, Kantar, WPP