The value of Oil & Gas brands in South Korea rose alongside a surge in global oil prices, coupled with heightened demand for heating in winter as well as a protracted Russo-Ukrainian war. According to Brand Finance’s South Korea 100 2023 report which ranks the nation’s 100 most valuable and strongest brands, Oil & Gas brands recorded a collective growth of 23% in brand value, with those listed in our 2022 rankings each posting a double-digit brand value % increase of at least 17%.
GS Caltex (brand value up 40% to US$2.4 billion) jumped eight places to 28th position overall in our rankings this year, bagging the distinction as South Korea’s fastest growing brand as well. SK Innovation (brand value up 17% to US$3.7 billion) and S-Oil (brand value up 19% to US$2.8 billion) also conveyed much optimism for the sector, moving up four ranks to 18th and three ranks to 25th respectively. The sector ushered in a new entrant this year with Hyundai Oilbank (brand value at US$733.56 million) coming in 71st place.
Samsung retained its title of being the most valuable brand in South Korea despite recording a decrease in brand value by 7% to US$82.7 billion. Moreover, it also saw a decrease in brand strength rating from AAA to AAA-. The decline in brand value resulted from a fall in brand strength coupled with exchange rate fluctuations.
To wrest global dominance away from Apple over the premium to ultra-premium smartphone market, Samsung plans to focus on enhancing product competitiveness rather than profitability through cost-reduction strategies. For instance, the tech brand intends to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon’s chipset for the entire Galaxy S23 series rather than splitting the market between Snapdragon and its in-house developed Exynos chip.
Naver reigned as South Korea’s strongest brand for the second consecutive year although its brand value declined by 12% to US$4.5 billion. Nonetheless, it retained both its 10th position overall in our rankings and brand strength rating of AAA+. The media brand experienced a dip in brand value due to the weakening of its brand strength as more users are expected to turn away from using search engines in favour of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots such as ChatGPT.
Nevertheless, in a game-changing move for online retail, Naver introduced initiatives to bolster support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through its live shopping platform, NAVER Shopping Live. In 2022, NAVER Shopping Live launched a beta version of its “Short Clip” service, allowing businesses to create two-minute videos to market their products. It also developed features for businesses to create, edit and upload content conveniently within the service. These initiatives saw the number of short video clips and participating businesses increase by 102% and 119% respectively by March 2023.
GS Caltex is South Korea’s fastest growing brand, posting an upturn in brand value by 40% to US$2.4 billion which propelled the brand eight positions to 28th place. It also retained a brand strength rating of AA+. The surge in GS Caltex’s brand value was attributed to an improvement in brand strength as the brand strives to diversify its products in order to cushion itself from the volatility of oil prices.
GS Caltex expanded its oil refinery operations to include biodegradables and petrochemical manufacturing. In 2022, it signed a deal with LG Chem to establish a pilot plant aimed at building a white bio ecosystem. This ecosystem substitutes materials used in the chemical industry with renewable components such as micro-organisms and enzymes. Furthermore, the brand completed the construction of its biggest investment project – a US$2 billion petrochemical manufacturing plant in Yeosu, South Jeolla. These new establishments seek to accelerate GS Caltex’s entry into new industries.
Alex Haigh, Managing Director – Asia Pacific of Brand Finance, commented:
“South Korea’s Oil & Gas brands continue to grow in strength through diversifying business portfolios and enhancing customer experience to reach their customers. We also extend our congratulations to brands from other sectors such as Samsung and Naver for topping the ranks as our most valuable and strongest brand respectively.”
 Brand value is understood as the net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market. The full ranking, additional insights, charts, more information about the methodology and definitions of key terms are available in the Brand Finance South Korea 100 2023 report.
 Brand Finance determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity and business performance. Compliant with ISO 20671, Brand Finance’s assessment of stakeholder equity incorporates original market research data from over 150,000 respondents in 38 countries and across 31 sectors.