LINE and Rakuten lead the way as top two risers in BrandZ Japan's Top 50 Most Valuable Brands 2021

LINE and Rakuten lead the way as top two risers in BrandZ Japan's Top 50 Most Valuable Brands 2021

PR Newswire

TOKYO, Nov. 5, 2020

- Toyota remains parked at number one and accelerates away from the rest of the category

- Nintendo is a leading innovator in the ranking

- Total brand value drops 9% as recession, pandemic and delayed Olympics create growth challenges and opportunities

TOKYO, Nov. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Toyota has retained its place as the most valuable brand in Japan, increasing its hold on the key cars category in the second BrandZTM Top 50 Most Valuable Japanese Brands ranking by WPP and Kantar. Telecom provider NTT1 ($20.3 billion) remains second, growing 1% in brand value, with Sony ($12.0 billion) moving up 3% to take third place.

Kantar Logo

Toyota's impressive $28.4 billion in brand value represents a slight drop (2%) from 2020, but against the backdrop of a 10% fall for the category as a whole it demonstrates the strength and resilience of the Toyota brand. Cars account for 24% of the total ranking value with five brands featured.

While the overall value of the ranking dropped by 9% to $202.9 billion, there were winners in entertainment and technology. The entertainment category was the big winner, up 19%, as consumers opted for stay-at-home social activities despite some of the world's lightest lockdown restrictions.

Nintendo (No. 8, $8.6 billion) stood out as a leading disruptor and innovator in the ranking. Games such as "Ring Fit Adventure", "Animal Crossing", and "Pokémon Sword and Shield" helped contribute to a surging demand for consoles. The brand matched the needs of consumers with a range of games that met demand for physical activity, social interaction and escape from the stress of social distancing. 

Communications platform LINE (No. 13, $4.3 billion) was the fastest riser, up 34%. It has become an integral part of Japanese life and LINE News's active users, text message volume, stamp usages, and in-app call volume increased significantly during the lockdown. The government used it as a tool to reach younger audiences, even conducting health surveys and online health consultation programs.

The pandemic has also accelerated Japan's move to digital. Despite being an advanced technological market, rates of e-commerce have previously been low, but that is now changing and companies are investing heavily. Japan's leading online retailer Rakuten (No. 23, $2.5 billion) was one of the biggest beneficiaries, with its brand value up 22%, on the back of a 7.65% growth in e-commerce2 in 2019.

Similarly, retailer Nitori (No. 26, $1.9 billion) proactively streamlined and focused resources on e-commerce, helping to boost online purchases by more than 40%.

Three new brands joined the Top 50: Leading drugstore chain Welcia ($1.1 billion) is the highest-ranking newcomer at 36. Colourful discount retail chain Don Quijote ($1.0 billion) follows close behind at number 37. Canned coffee brand Georgia ($953 million) – a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company that's become a quintessential Japanese drink since its debut in 1975 – enters the list this year at number 41.

Success means being different and trusted

Dividing lines between success and failure are difference and trust. Brands that were growing in value scored an average of eight points higher for "different" – a measure of how much consumers perceive a brand to stand for something unique – compared to those that were declining in value.

Strong perceptions of trust also helped some of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic. This was a tough year for the travel services industry as a whole (down 34%), but ANA (No. 28, $1.9 billion) was the airline brand in the Top 50 that declined the least (27%) within this category. It remains Japan's most trusted brand with logistics company, Yamato Transport (No. 32, $1.6 billion), close behind.

ANA thrived by delivering on three essential components of brand trust: Integrity, Identification and Inclusion. During the pandemic, it launched "ANA Care Promise", an initiative to assure travelling passengers of its commitment to the new safety and comfort standards of the new normal, while also providing educational and entertaining branded content to connect with audiences at home.

"Our BrandZ rankings clearly demonstrate the resilience of strong brands in times of crisis. Despite the global coronavirus hitting the automotive sector hard, Toyota's performance has been far less affected than that of its rivals in Japan; its brand value gains have seen it  strengthen its leadership. Similarly, ANA's powerful brand has protected its value in a sector that has been cruelly hit," said David Roth, Chairman BrandZ.

The BrandZ Top 15 Most Valuable Japanese Brands 2021

Rank 2021



Brand Value 2021 ($M USD)







Telecom providers








Telecom providers








Telecom Providers




















Personal Care











Mitsubishi UFJ




Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation



Other key highlights include:

Delayed Olympics represent a big opportunity for 2021: A rescheduled Olympics could offer Japanese brands an even greater opportunity to touch the world. Tokyo 2021 could be a symbol of hope, resilience, ingenuity, and togetherness for a world emerging from the coronavirus pandemic. Japanese brands have often emphasised functional benefits over emotional messaging in their marketing – but with the world watching, the "Olympic halo" could offer the perfect opportunity to focus on positive human sentiment.

Mixed category performanceFour categories in the BrandZ Japan Top 50 saw year-on-year value increases: Entertainment (19%), Personal Care (7%), Home Care (5%), and Telecom Providers (3%). Not coincidentally, all four of these categories also have a strong presence in the home environment. Cars (-10%), Retail (-9%) and Technology (-8%) all saw declines similar in magnitude to the overall 9% value decrease for the whole Top 50 portfolio.

"This year's Top 50 ranking of Japan's most valuable brands shines a light on those brand and marketing strategies that have helped to withstand macro challenges, even a global pandemic. The foundation of trust, intrinsic to our society, is now even more important as consumers face unprecedented uncertainties. Secondly, 'difference', which is about standing for something unique, and an unwavering commitment of certain values and emotions in everything the brand does, helps create greater resilience and return on investment than purely the pursuit of salience. In some cases, this even allows the opportunity to charge a premium," said Shishir Varma, CEO, Insights Division, Japan at Kantar.

The BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Japanese Brands ranking and report featuring extensive analysis are available online here and via The reports, rankings, charts, articles and more can also be accessed through the BrandZ™ app, which is free to download for Apple IOS and all Android devices from or by searching for BrandZ™ in the iTunes or Google Play app stores.

About the BrandZ™ Top 50 Most Valuable Japanese Brands Ranking

Commissioned by WPP and Kantar, the valuation behind the BrandZ™ Top 50 Most Valuable Japanese Brands was conducted by brand equity research experts Kantar. The methodology mirrors that used to calculate the annual BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking, which is now in its fifteenth year.  The ranking combines rigorously analysed market data from Bloomberg with extensive consumer insights from over 3.8 million consumers around the world, covering more than 17,801 different brands in over 51 markets – including opinions from more than 88,000 consumers across Japan about over 570 brands.

The BrandZ Top 50 is the most definitive and robust ranking of Japanese brands available, and the brands ranked all meet these eligibility criteria:

-  The brand is originated in Japan and financial information is publicly available (corporation listed on a stock exchange or when a significant portion of the business is owned by a corporation listed on stock exchange


-  The brand is owned by a corporation listed on Japanese Stock exchange and generates at least 50 percent of its revenue in Japan

-  Bank brands derive at least 20 percent of revenue from retail banking

The suite of BrandZTM brand valuation rankings and reports currently includes Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru), the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, UAE & KSA, the UK and the US. Access a suite of customised reports and data packages from BrandZ via

About Kantar

Kantar is the world's leading evidence-based insights and consulting company. We have a complete, unique and rounded understanding of how people think, feel and act; globally and locally in over 90 markets. By combining the deep expertise of our people, our data resources and benchmarks, our innovative analytics and technology, we help our clients understand people and inspire growth. For more information, visit 

About WPP

WPP is a creative transformation company. We use the power of creativity to build better futures for our people, clients and communities. For more information, visit

1 The brand valuation for NTT includes NTT DoCoMo

2 Source: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry


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