March 22, 2013

Nikkei BP Consulting Releases
―Brand Japan 2013 Survey Results

Apple maintains top position in BtoC section;
“innovative” and “outstanding” factors key to consolidating brand strength.
Convenience stores do well;
electric equipment and household electric appliance brands sluggish.

 Nikkei BP Consulting Inc., located in Minato-ku, Tokyo, today (March 22, 2013) released and put on sale a report of the results of its Brand Japan 2013 survey, the largest brand evaluation survey in Japan. A commemorative seminar marking the thirteenth anniversary of the Brand Japan report’s publication will be held on April 19, 2013, at the Tokyo Conference Center Shinagawa.

 The questionnaire survey, which was conducted from November 2012 to January 2013, targeted general consumers and businesspeople and evaluated the brand strengths of a total of 1,500 companies and products; there were about 60,000 respondents.

  • ■In the BtoC overall brand ranking, Apple, which continues to launch new products, scored 93.2 points and maintained its top position.
  • ■Convenience stores, such as 7-Eleven, Lawson, and FamilyMart, did well, but household electric appliance brands generally were ranked lower than last time.
  • ■In many cases the existence of topical product brands, such as Garigari-kun, Heattech, and Jagarico, played a role in boosting the corporate brand.
  • ■In the BtoB section, Toyota maintained top spot for the second consecutive year. Tanita moved into the top 10 for the first time thanks to its strength in the category of human resources.

BtoC Section:
Apple maintains top spot; iPhone and other product brands stay strong in “innovative” and “outstanding” factors

 In the BtoC brand ranking, the top four brands are the same as last time (Table 1). Apple remains first in terms of overall strength, followed in second place by Google and Uniqlo with the same score. Fourth is YouTube. The gap between first place (Apple) and second place (Google and Uniqlo) is 5.9 points this time. Last time the difference between first place (Apple) and second place (Google) was just 1.5 points, so the gap has widened. The 2013 survey results give the impression of an overwhelming victory for Apple, which was the only brand to obtain an overall score in the 90s.

 The reasons for Apple’s strength lie in a high evaluation of the “innovative” and “outstanding” qualities of the corporate brand and the existence of a series of products that do not betray expectations (Figure 1). Among 1,000 brands, Apple came top in both the “innovative” and “outstanding” rankings. It receives high appraisal as a brand that is clearly different from others, has news value, and attracts attention. New products in 2012 included iPhone 5, launched in September as the successor to iPhone 4S, and the tablet iPad mini, launched in November. Apple’s aggressive approach of launching new products one after the other and not letting people get bored strengthens its corporate brand power. In the overall scores this time, three of Apple’s products again make it into the top 40: iPhone in 18th place, iPod in 38th place, and iPad in 40th place. Compared with last time, however, while iPhone’s score has risen, the other two products register a lull in their upward movement. Other adverse news is beginning to trickle in as well. For example, rival companies are also coming out with tablet computers, and since the beginning of this year Apple’s share prices have fallen on US stock markets. So in next year’s results it will be interesting to see how far Apple has been able to maintain its divine status in Japan.

 Among the brands that have noticeably risen in this year’s overall ranking, the names of three leading convenience stores are conspicuous. 7-Eleven, Lawson, and FamilyMart have all moved up considerably to 22nd, 39th, and 57th place, respectively. Interestingly, all three corporate brands score higher in the “outstanding” category. Convenience stores in general are increasing the range of products handled to include, for example, private-brand products, perishables, desserts, and food products placed near cash registers. On the communication side, meanwhile, they are actively providing information on social network services and introducing point coupons. The three convenience stores in question are achieving results through strategies taking advantage of their own strengths, and this in turn is boosting their individuality. These companies are doing well business-wise as well. In the March–November 2012 period, all three registered record-high operating profits.

 Japan’s leading household electric appliance and electric equipment makers, on the other hand, are under the weather. Panasonic, Sharp, and Canon all drop to 14th, 54th, and 62nd place, respectively. Over the last couple of years Sharp’s score for “innovative” has fallen by 21.4 points. These results are a stark contrast to those of the top-ranking Apple and Google.

 The BtoC results this time reveal a frequent pattern of an improved product brand eventually exerting a positive influence on the corporate brand. Good examples of this trend are Akagi Nyugyo’s Garigari-kun (65th), Uniqlo’s Heattech (44th), and Calbee’s Jagarico (66th). Although the hugely popular Maru-chan Seimen was not nominated this time, Toyo Suisan (Maru-chan) did very well to place 55th.

BtoB Section:
Toyota remains in top place; Tanita enters top 10 for first time

 In the BtoB ranking, Toyota remains in top spot. As well as coming first with 88.1 points for being “trustworthy,” Toyota also came top in such categories as “first-class,” “represents Japan,” and “I want to learn from this company” (Figure 2). Apple, which came first in the BtoC section, is second, and Google and Honda are third with the same score. Tanita enters the top 10 for the first time, jumping from 38th in the last survey to 8th. In particular, Tanita scores high in “human resources,” ranking 2nd behind Oriental Land out of 500 brands in this category. Tanita also places high in the BtoC section, moving up from 105th place in the last survey to 60th in the overall BtoC ranking. Sony, meanwhile, drops out of the top 10, moving down from 5th last year to 12th this time.

 There was a change of government in Japan at the end of 2012, and in 2013 expectations of a business recovery are growing. With a hike in the consumption tax looming, changes are expected to appear in the selection and purchasing habits of consumers. Now is the time for your company to start thinking about its future marketing and branding strategies.

(Kenichi Yoshida Chief Consultant, Nikkei BP Consulting Inc. )

Brand Japan Survey

This annual survey, the largest brand evaluation survey in Japan, asks consumers and businesspeople for their appraisal of brands used in Japan. The first survey was conducted in 2001; the latest is the thirteenth. It consists of two parts: the BtoC section (covering 1,000 brands), which asks for replies from a consumer’s standpoint, and the BtoB section (covering 500 brands), which asks for replies from a businessperson’s standpoint. For an explanation of the survey, please see “Composition and Outline of the Survey” and “Special Advisors and the Brand Japan Planning Committee.”

Composition and Outline of Survey

Survey Policies and Composition

Brand Japan uses the same framework each year to allow for interannual comparison and to maintain continuous data values. The survey comprises two surveys: the Consumer Market (BtoC) and the Business Market (BtoB). Also, the questions used to calculate the rankings are the same each year with respect to the main questions concerning each brand, and the basic method used when calculating overall brand strength adopts the same procedures each year. A propensity score weighting method was used to correct the results of the Internet survey with purposive sampling.

Consumer Market (BtoC)

Consumers were asked to respond to questions that elucidate brand positioning in their consumption behavior. A total of 1,000 brands including corporate brands (company and group names) and product and service brands were subject to the survey.

Business Market (BtoB)

Persons with a job were asked to respond to questions the elucidate brand positioning from their perspectives as businesspeople. 500 brands consisted of only corporate brands were subject to the survey.

Survey Outline

Survey Name

Brand Japan 2013

Survey Purpose

Identify the brand power and individual attributes of leading brands used in the Japanese market. The data is provided in formats that can be used for corporate branding activities, and the data contributes to basic research on the factors that have an impact on brand power inside and outside the market.

Survey Agency

Nikkei BP Consulting

Survey Method

Special Advisor and Brand Japan Planning Committee

 In order to conduct accurate tallying and analysis, we have established a Brand Japan Planning Committee consisting of members active on the front lines of brand theory, marketing, and statistics. The committee was convened at any time for discussions on survey methods and analysis with the aim of achieving fair and high-level survey results.

Brand Japan Special Advisor

David A. Aaker
Vice-chairman, Prophet

Known as one of the pioneers of brand theory. Has published many books and essays include Managing Brand Equity and Brand Portfolio Strategy (both were translated into Japanese and published by Diamond). Has served as special advisor for Brand Japan since the first survey.

Brand Japan Planning Committee

Chair: Satoshi Akutsu
Professor, Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy
Hitotsubashi University

Acquired his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley. Specializes in marketing, consumer psychology, brand theory, decision-making theory, behavioral economics, and negotiating theory. Published books and supervised translations include Brand Strategy Scenario Context and Branding (in Japanese; Diamond; co-author) and The Dragonfly Effect: Changing the World with Social Media (in Japanese; Shoeisha; supervisor).

Planning Committee Member
Hideki Toyoda
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Waseda University

As an expert in psychological statistics, educational measurement, marketing science, and statistics, has been in charge of result analysis since Brand Japan 2002. Works include Covariance Structure Analysis by SAS (in Japanese; University of Tokyo Press) and Statistics to Read the Consumer Mind (in Japanese; Tokyo Tosho).

Planning Committee Member
Takeo Kuwahara
Professor, Faculty of Policy Management
Keio University

Serves as visiting researcher at the Columbia University Business School. Conducts joint research with Professor Morris B. Holbrook, the standard-bearer of postmodern marketing. Works include Understanding the Consumer Mind by the Postmodern Method (in Japanese; Nihon Keizai Shimbun; co-author).

Planning Committee Member
Hidehiko Nishikawa
Professor, Faculty of Business Administration
Hosei University

Acquired his PhD in commerce at the Graduate School of Kobe University. Specializes in marketing and conducts research on the themes of user innovation and Internet marketing. Recent works include Internet literacy: Determinants of social media use (in Japanese; Hakuto-Shobo; co-author) and Product Planning from Square One (in Japanese; Sekigakusha; editor and writer).

Nikkei BP Consulting

 Fully owned by Nikkei BP, Nikkei BP Consulting engages in consulting and contents-related marketing and solutions, including the implementation of surveys and consultations, planning and editing, and production. It was founded on March 1, 2002, and has capital of 90 million yen.

(For inquiries concerning this matter, please contact the following:)

Kenichi Yoshida/Miho Nakamura/Makoto Oyamada
Brand Communication Department
Nikkei BP Consulting, Inc.
NBF Platinum Tower, 1-17-3 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8646
E-mail: consult@nikkeibp.co.jp