Across the world the word ‘influence’ means different things to different people. Even in India, the word carries a variety of implications depending on which part of the country you come from. In Delhi, influence means something that could get you up and close with those in the corridors of power. In Mumbai, it could mean something that can get you a college seat or even a railway berth.

So when market measurement major Ipsos had to measure the most influential brands across 21 countries, it had a mammoth task on hand. The first question: What is influence? And how do we define and measure it?

The simple way of looking at this is, being influential means having an impact on people’s lives. We place a tremendous degree of trust in these brands, and give them the power to guide how we shop, interact, and behave. Influential brands have aspirational qualities, too. They offer a gateway to a better, more interesting life by giving people the tools to make smart choices. Indeed, this explains why a number of technology brands appear in the Top Ten. The Most Influential Brands are important and relevant in the world. Consumers identify with these brands and have an emotional relationship with them. They couldn’t imagine their lives without them.

The Most Influential Brands study evaluated 100+ brands that spend the most on advertising, and have high brand equity, involvement and influence; the study was also conducted in 20 other countries in 2015. However, a deeper understanding of influence would make it a bit more complex and several factors come into play. For this study, Ipsos identified five key dimensions that contribute to influence (the influence drivers). Read about that in the companion piece on this page.
What’s common to the winners

The Top 10 brands in India are a combination of digital service/social media, technology, online retail, bank and telecom brands. The one thing many of these brands have in common is that they are Leading Edge and Trustworthy, which results in them being so firmly entrenched in the minds of the consumer. Google occupies the Number One position. As if to underline the influence the search giant has in our lives another offering from the company, Gmail, bagged the third slot.

Sapna Chadha, Head of Marketing, Google India, says: “Over the years, Google has grown to offer many products beyond search — from Search to Chrome to Gmail — with the goal of making it as easy as possible for users to find the information they need from wherever they may be.” She adds that being able to consistently deliver that experience across the world to the brand’s users has helped it gain consumer trust and build the brand. “We don’t take that trust for granted, and are always focused on improving users’ lives in their interactions with us every day.”

While Google is at one end of the spectrum, at the other end was State Bank of India, a public sector bank that bagged the ninth rank — the only brand from financial services in the top 10. The bank’s Deputy MD and Corporate Development Officer, Ashwini Mehra, says, “The perception was that we are an old bank catering only to senior citizens and retired professionals.” He adds that the bank took up the challenge to adopt cutting edge technology and digitisation in order to appeal to generation next. The result has been that as much as 76 per cent of transactions at SBI now happen through the online banking channel.

To arrive at the results, Ipsos approached the task in a detailed manner, with each respondent being asked 57 questions, to which they had to answer either a yes or a no. In India, 1,000 respondents were interviewed online to arrive at the Influence index. The five attributes that contributed to a brand’s influence were measured separately to know what helped a brand become influential (the methodology and attributes are listed on page 2).

Finally, to get an expert’s perspective on what could be the most influential brand, we got our regular columnist and respected marketer Harish Bhat to pick five brands that influenced him the most. Did his views match with our study? Find that out on page 3.

Being featured in the first edition of India’s most influential brands list might be just the beginning of the journey for India’s marketers.

Srinivasan Gopalan, Director, Consumer Business, Bharti Airtel, says, “This endorsement will go a long way in motivating us to continue innovating ahead of the curve and keep delighting our customers.”

Resource: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com

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