New research shows Ireland’s top 25 most valuable brands lose nearly €3bn in brand value during pandemic

Total value of Ireland’s top 25 most valuable brands drops from €20.3 billion in 2020 to €17.5 billion in 2021



23 March 2021

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Three FMCG drink brands are included in Ireland’s top ten brands in terms of brand value* according to research by Brand Finance, while DCC is ranked in eighth position. To view the full report, click here.

Overall, Ireland has recorded mixed fortunes throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with the lowest rates per capita in Europe in mid-December 2020. However, by mid-January this year was in the grips of a rampant new wave. The nation first went into lockdown in March 2020 and has since then faced a patchwork of eased and then reintroduced restrictions. This uncertainty, interruption, and disruption to businesses has wrought economic and social impact across the nation.

The total value of Ireland’s top 25 most valuable brands has dropped from €20.3 billion in 2020 to €17.5 billion in 2021 and, on average, the top 25 brands have lost 11% of brand value this year. With another lockdown in force and lacklustre vaccination rates compared to its neighbour, the UK, the future is looking uncertain.

“The Irish and broader European Union’s response to the economic impact of the pandemic has been notably different to the response to the 2008 financial crisis, where lessons about job retention and support income seem to have been learnt,” said Declan Ahern, valuations director, Brand Finance. 

“This bodes well for the longer term post-Covid-19 recovery and for brands across Ireland in the coming year,” he added.

Penneys retains top spot

According to Brand Finance*, Penneys/ Primark has retained the title of Ireland’s most valuable brand, despite recording a 13% decrease in brand value to €2.1 billion. Much has been said about the decline of the high street – particularly in the years following the 2008 financial crisis – but Penneys has demonstrated a formidable resilience, with its distinct brand identity as the go-to spot for cheap and fashionable clothing, while bucking the trend among some consumers for more sustainable ‘slow’ fashion.

Despite this, the brand has suffered amid the fallout from the pandemic. While many brands have a strong online presence and have shifted focus to e-commerce, Penneys has remained an in-store only retailer. With quick turnover times for its products and a reputation for large stores, the brand’s focus has been entirely on in-store purchases and has not attempted a shift to online.

“It remains to be seen what the longer-term effects will be for the high street, but Penneys will do well to consider a shift to an online presence going forward,” said Declan Ahern, valuations director.

Irish banks

Across the world, governments, central banks, and regional and local financial institutions have taken extraordinary measures to support local consumers and businesses through economic uncertainty and ongoing lockdowns. While this has largely led to improved brand equity perceptions for high street banks, it has meant that they are facing significant provisions for future loan losses as government support is lifted. It is for this reason that we have seen significant brand value declines for the Irish banking sector, Brand Finance reports.

All three Irish banks in this year’s ranking have seen declines in brand value year-on-year with Allied Irish Banks down 24% to €1.4 billion, Bank of Ireland down 15% to €1.0 billion and Ulster Bank down 24% to €176 million.  

The banking sector is the second most valuable across the nation, with the three brands accounting for 15% of the total brand value in the ranking.

Think! rebrand pays off

Another finding directly relevant to the FMCG sector is that according to Brand Finance’s research, Think! – the US-founded protein bar brand acquired by Glanbia in 2015 – is Ireland’s fastest-growing brand, its brand value up 19% year-on-year to €392 million. The brand has undertaken a complete overhaul over the last year, with a name and brand change from ‘ThinkThin’ marking a shift in its offering and focus on general wellness rather than weight loss, reflecting broader cultural trends.

Cheers to Baileys as nation’s strongest brand

In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. According to these criteria, Baileys (down 26% to €872 million) retains the title of Ireland’s strongest brand, with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 83.5 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA- brand strength rating.

Baileys has continued to invest in diversifying its product range, with dairy-free, low sugar and chocolate flavour varieties of the liqueur now available, as well as recently launching its easter egg range – all while maintaining its strong brand identity. 

Fellow brand under the mighty Diego portfolio, Guinness (down 4% to €1.8 billion), is the nation’s second strongest brand (BSI 81.6) and second most valuable brand. The drink, synonymous with the nation and its beverage industry, has an extremely strong identity, only supplemented by its successful advertising and sponsorship campaigns, most notably as the title sponsor of the Six Nations Rugby Championship.

*(Brand value is understood as the net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market. Further information on methodology contained within report)



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