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Samsung is India's Buzziest Brand

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing | February 04, 2013
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What happens when consumers talk about a brand willingly, rather than the marketer having to expound on its virtues through mass media? You get this elusive yet powerful phenomenon called buzz, that can propel a brand upwards. Presenting India's Buzziest Brands, now in its Eighth Edition.

Being a buzzy brand is not just tough, it is damn tough. If you need convincing, just look at the figures. Though dozens of names have featured in this report since we introduced it, just over 15 brands have managed to make it every single year, since 2006. That was the year we decided to understand the viral phenomenon a little better and introduced India's Buzziest Brands.

The top spot has been hogged by just two brands. Airtel has sat there from 2006-2009 and then again in 2012, making it a total of five times. The other two years, 2010-11 were taken by Facebook. What makes this year different, then, is the appearance of a new brand on the peak, Samsung. The buzz around the brand has been primarily around its mobile devices.

Let's look at some other interesting changes in the Buzzies list. The first is that Flipkart, which was included last year for the first time, continues to perform phenomenally. For a new brand to stay so high up, two years in a row, among old and powerful names is really something. IPL's comeback is another interesting development. BlackBerry continues to do well in buzz terms which shows that in spite of its reverses, the brand has legs. And Nokia seems set for recovery, based on its Lumia range of phones. For the rest, read on:

1. SAMSUNG

After seven years of trying, Samsung has finally made it to the very top of the buzzy heap. Between 2006 and 2008, it was in the bottom half of the 60-brand list, falling to a low of No 49 in 2008 and risked being dropped altogether. While, technically, Samsung would be classified as a marketer of electronic goods, buzz around the brand has basically been created by its mobile handsets.

Buzzy Gold

Samsung was an also-ran in handsets for long. Then, in 2009, it launched three ranges of feature phones Corby, Star and Wave. That year, it jumped from No 49 to No 26 in the Buzzies. Soon after, it introduced the Galaxy range of handsets, which became a spectacular success worldwide, having sold 100 million units. After dropping to No 18 in 2011, it got into single digits for the first time last year, at No 5. It got to No 1 this year in the most convincing way possible. It was voted to the top on the popular vote, leaving runner up, Facebook, way behind. Among the jurors, four out of five voted for Samsung, the highest for any brand other than Airtel, which got the same score. As long as it keeps those sexy devices rolling out, it can hope to stay perched at the top.


2. FACEBOOK

Buzzy Silver

Ever since Facebook got on to the list in 2009, it has been rock steady: on two occasions it has been the No 1 and on three, the runner-up. This is an amazing performance, even more so because one would imagine that over time the charm of the social networking site would begin to pale. As it turns out, Facebook stays in the news for one reason or the other: if it isn't because it raised a lot of money in its IPO, then it's because its share price tanked soon after.

Everybody, especially the media, loves to hate Facebook, so it gets coverage if it is doing well - and even more of it, if it is doing poorly. How can one beat a brand like that on buzz?

The only glimmer comes from the fact that Samsung trounced it convincingly, this year. Even among jurors, only two opted for Facebook.

3. AIRTEL

Buzzy Bronze

This is one brand that's been there, done that, and in every possible way. It was consistently No 1 for four years - a record that is still unrivalled - after the Buzzies came into existence in 2006, before slumping to No 16 in 2010. This happened because its advertising, which has been at the heart of its buzz, gradually lost its way.

A change of agency and a relook at the marketing communication has revived the brand in the consumer's mind. Airtel clawed its way back to No 9 in 2011 and hit the No 1 spot again, last year. As in 2012, the jury has been kinder to it than the voter. On the popular count, Airtel is at No 6, behind Samsung, Facebook, Google, iPhone and Flipkart. However, four out of five jurors backed the brand, helping it get to No 3.

4. GOOGLE

Google

Ever since Google was included in the list in 2008, following a change in methodology, it has hung around towards the top barring 2010 when it slipped into double digits, at No 12. Just like Facebook, the search engine brand too is always in the news because of something new or the other. The comparison ends there, however. Facebook is more sharply identified with founder Mark Zuckerberg - thanks perhaps to the film, 'The Social Network' - than Google is with Sergey Brin and Larry Page. That's possibly why Facebook invites stronger feelings than does Google.

Number three in the popular vote, Google drops a rank because only two of the jurors voted for it.

5. FLIPKART

Flipkart

Buzz is, by its very nature, transient. Brands that are on top one year, can find themselves in the dumps the next, if they don't keep the excitement going. Take the example of Snapdeal, the online deals site, that has now morphed into an online shopping destination. It came in last year at No 7, on the back of a popular TV commercial, but has crashed to No 41 this time.

Flipkart, on the other hand, which was at No 3 has done well again at No 5. It has kept up its public profile high, with distinctive advertising that has allowed it to rise head and shoulders above all e-commerce players. And its ability to delight consumers is worth a lot in terms of positive buzz. It is No 5 in both the popular vote as well as in the final analysis: two judges backed it.


6. IPHONE

iPhone

The iPhone has been steadily climbing the buzz charts since it was included in 2011, after it began to gain some visibility in India. That year, its performance wasn't impressive and it ended up at No 23. Things have changed since then. Far more people have actually seen it, even if they can't yet afford it. It is the phone that a legion of young people aspire to own. This pent-up desire has created buzz that has propelled it upward to No 9, last year and to No 6, this time round.

On popular vote it is No 4 but it got only one jury vote, moving it down two pegs in the final count.

7. YOUTUBE

Youtube

This is a brand that an entire generation has grown up on. Youtube doesn't seem to change much; so shouldn't it be part of the woodwork by now?
Apparently not. Ever since it came on the list in 2010, at No 18, this year's performance is its best ever. It had dipped to a low of No 24 in 2011, before recovering sharply to No 12, last year. It is No 7 on the popular vote and two jury votes - more than it has ever got - help it stay at that position.

8. CADBURY

Cadbury

Cadbury seems to have taken a long-term lease out on No 8. It finds itself here for the third year in a row. In the popular vote it ranks No 11 as against No 14 last time. Again, like last year, the jury favoured it, with two 'ayes' this time, sending it to a higher rank.

It is hard not to admire this brand. It is just a slab of chocolate, after all, in a list full of electronic and online brands at the top. The category doesn't even permit the kind of imagery that has been the purview of the colas. And yet, it has single-handedly grown the market without forgetting to charm everybody on the way there.

9. IPL

IPL

This brand has had wild swings on the Buzzies, since 2010, when it was included. IPL started off at a high No 5, declining to No 15, in the next poll. Then, in the wake of the controversy surrounding Lalit Modi and the power struggle that took place in public view, IPL became a curse word. It sank to No 32 that year but is up again.

However, the reprieve may be temporary. Two judges voted for it; in the popular eye it stands at only No 24.

10. BLACKBERRY

BlackBerry

The woes of BlackBerry have filled countless pages in international tech and business sites. That considered, the brand has done remarkably well, since it came into the Buzzies.

It made a big splash when it entered the ranks in 2011, making it to the No 2 spot straightaway: it did well on the popular vote but the jury really loved it. Last year, the reverse happened. The popular vote placed it at No 8, but none of the jurors okayed it, sending it down to No 13.

BlackBerry continues to hold the Indian imagination going by the fact that it got voted to No 14 by the voters. One of the jurors backed it, taking it to a final No 10.

11. MAGGI

Maggi


Maggi has seen wild swings on the list, ever since 2006. On four occasions, it has been ranked in the 30s, dropping to No 45 in 2009. Its best was No 10 in 2010. This year, it comes in at No 21 in the popular vote but the vote of a single kindly juror sends it rocketing up the ladder.

12. VODAFONE

 Vodafone

This is the lowest position this telecom services provider has ever descended to. In its earlier avatar, as Hutch, it had been among the top three. When it took on its then new identity as Vodafone, it slipped to No 7, but recovered sharply to No 2 in 2010, on the back of the high excitement around those eggshell characters, the zoozoos. Since then, it has been slowly slipping away from the very top with ranks of No 10, No 11 and now No 12. In the popular vote it makes it to No 8 but finds no favour with the jury this year.

Rival Airtel has been ahead of Vodafone every year, except in 2010. Even in the popular vote this year, Airtel received more than 50 per cent as many votes as did Vodafone.

13. NOKIA

Nokia

The brand Nokia seems to be reviving along with the finances of the Finnish handset marketer. Its new range of Lumia phones, using the Windows OS, have brought some of the magic back to the brand.

From 2006-2009, it was ranked among the top five brands in the Buzzies. Over the next three years, it slipped to No 9, No 13 and then No 15 last year. The important thing, though, was that in the popular eye it was No 9 last year, and it has held on to that. Nokia's problem in the Buzzies for the last few years has been that, the jury just isn't convinced about the return of excitement around the brand.

14. MICROMAX

Micromax

This handset marketer, the biggest among the non-MNC brands, has see-sawed wildly, since it came on three years ago. It started off like a shot at No 5, plummeted to No 39 last year, but has swung up this year after cleaning up its act. This is typical, actually, of young brands that appear on the list. They get included because of the buzz around them. They crash in the second year and either disappear altogether from the list or stabilise at a slightly lower level than before. Micromax seems to be maturing as a brand.

15. MAHINDRA

Mahindra

Mahindra may be a respected brand, but it has never been a particularly exciting one. It has ranked somewhere between No 35-45 most years, in the Buzzies. Then, last year, it rose to No 21 because one of the jurors backed it. The story is the same this year, too. It ranks No 34 in the popular vote but the support of a single juror takes it shooting all the way to No 15 - its best ever outcome.

The Jury

The shortlist on which afaqs! readers as well as the jury voted was made up of two sources:

  • Forty eight of the brands feature from among the most searched for, based on nearly three million searches carried out on afaqs! in 2012.
  • The remaining 12 brands were chosen by an afaqs! editorial committee, based on their perception of the excitement that surrounds different names. Many of these are either media brands or brands with a powerful digital presence, because of which they are unlikely to be searched on afaqs! at all. The fact that many of these 12 have done exceedingly well, suggests that our choice tends to be more right than wrong.
  • Visitors to afaqs! were asked to choose five brands from the shortlist of 60, that they felt had the greatest 'buzz' in the year gone by.
  • To eliminate digital ballot-stuffing, voters had to click on a link sent to their email account. The poll was carried out from December 27, 2012-January 14, 2013. In all, 1,972 visitors participated and valid votes amounted to 1,513.
  • To create balance and gain a potentially different perspective, five well-known names from advertising, media and marketing were invited to choose their favourites from the shortlist. The popular:jury vote weightage was 70:30.

A Note From the Editor

Over the past eight years we have changed the process of figuring India's Buzziest Brands in a variety of ways. For the first six years, the score was captured as 'Voter Percentage', meaning, the percentage of voters who had opted for a brand. But after taking in the jury's scores, this got confusing for readers. So, last year, we simplified that.

We introduced 'Relative Score'. Under this system, we assume that the top brand has hit a score of 100. All other brands in the list are measured against that.

The new measure is just two years old so one shouldn't read too much into change in the meanwhile. The difference between 2012 and 2013 is so sharp that it deserves mention nevertheless.

Last year, the No 10 brand, Twitter, had a Relative Score of 36.4: that is, its score was just over a third that of Airtel, the No 1 brand in 2012. In comparison, the No 10 brand this time, BlackBerry, has a score of 22.3 or just a fifth of the top brand, Samsung. Is this a reflection of Twitter's strength vs that of BlackBerry this year?

To dispel the confusion, look at brand No 20 in 2012. Amul stood there with a Relative Score of 21.1 but Coca Cola, which is at the same step on the ladder this year, scores only 10.7 - or a tenth as much as Samsung.

Clearly, the Relative Scores of brands down the ladder this year are lower than last year. What does this mean?

It shows that in 2013, Samsung stands head and shoulders above other brands in the list, relatively speaking. In other words, Samsung is far more buzzy compared to other top brands in the list than No 1 Airtel was last year.

What this also shows is that the power of buzz is extremely concentrated even among the brands that do make it to the list. And the power of the winner, Samsung, is exceptional even by the standards of consolidation that occurs in the Buzzies.

SREEKANT KHANDEKAR

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