Study: When It Comes to Value Perception, Amazon Tops Brands in U.S. and Globally

Millward Rankings Find Pampers, Colgate, Crest Fare Well as Nokia and Microsoft Beat Apple

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Amazon is the strongest brand globally and in the U.S., at least as measured by how consumers perceive value vs. the associated costs, according to a Millward Brown "Value-D" ranking released today based on surveys of 150,000 consumers in 24 countries.

It's the first time the unit of WPP's Kantar Group has released the value-based ranking of brand strength, said Peter Walshe, senior director of Millward Brown.

Winners in the rankings weren't necessarily the sexiest, fastest-growing, best known, most heavily advertised or even most universally used, Mr. Walshe said, because the rankings are all about perceived value vs. price paid.

Top Global Value-D Brands
Brand Country of Origin Value-D Score
1 Amazon U.S. 146
2 Colgate U.S. 133
3 Nokia Finland 128
4 Pampers U.S. 126
5 Visa U.S. 125
6 Coca-Cola U.S. 125
7 Microsoft U.S. 125
8 McDonald's U.S. 124
9 Nescafe Switzerland 120
10 Lidl Germany 118
Top U.S. Value-D Brands
Brand Value-D Score
1 Amazon 157
2 Crest 136
3 Coca-Cola 134
4 Folgers 133
5 Bud Light 133
6 Walmart 132
7 Microsoft 131
8 Colgate 130
9 Dell 130
10 HP 129

Well-known, iconic brands such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's, while among the global top 10, trailed more utilitarian brands such as Colgate (No. 2) and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Pampers (No. 4). Digital and tech high-fliers Apple and Google didn't make the cut, but Nokia did, notwithstanding new CEO Stephen Elop's brutally frank memo to employees last month comparing the share-bleeding telecom brand to a "burning oil platform."

Apple didn't make the top 10 list, Mr. Walshe said, because while it ranks among the highest of any brand in perceived desirability, it also ranks very high in perceived price.

"People rate Apple as being very expensive," he said. "Even though its desire ranking is very high, its price perception is even higher."

Google didn't make the list because most consumers use its services for free, "so we can't measure it on the price angle," he said.

And while Coke and McDonald's may be more widely known or more heavily advertised than Colgate and Pampers globally, the ranking was among consumers of the brands' categories, so Pampers' rating, for example, comes from among parents with children in diapers.

On that same pricing spectrum, while Starbucks and other premium coffee brands might be more desirable overall, Nescafe globally and Folgers in the U.S. make the top 10 on price perception.

But while Walmart bested all bricks-and-mortar rivals in the U.S., it still couldn't best its online rival Amazon.

One key takeaway for marketers of brands on the list: You could probably afford to raise your prices, Mr. Walshe said. Since the score essentially measures the gap between what consumers think the brand is worth and how they think it's priced, the higher the score, the greater the potential for raising prices and boosting profits.

Oral care seemed to do well globally and in the U.S. in value perception, with Colgate No. 2 globally and Crest No. 2 in the U.S. The Colgate-Palmolive Co. rival was also in the U.S. top 10. So as packaged-goods marketers look to raise prices this year, those are two brands where consumers might at least be willing to pony up.

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