BrandBeta® US 2021
The annual report on the most popular brands in America

Brand Finance BrandBeta® US 2021

Walmart is America’s Most Popular Brand.
US Bank Records Biggest Rise in Popularity.

  • Walmart is most popular brand in US according to Brand Finance BrandBeta US 2021 report, with BrandBeta score of 9.0 out of 10
  • US Bank has seen biggest popularity increase over past year, with BrandBeta score up by 13% due to expansion across West Coast
  • Vtech, Nordstrom, Valero, and Tesla round off top 5 fastest growing brands
  • McDonald’s ranks first for familiarity scoring 92%
  • Google scores highest for brand relevance with 96%
  • Food & drink sector best represented in top 25 with 14 brands featuring. Lay’s is highest ranked across sector with 71% of Americans saying they buy its products

Walmart has the highest BrandBeta score across the United States, standing at 9.0 out of 10, making it the most popular brand in America. BrandBeta is a simple, market-research based measure used to calculate popularity and mental availability of brands and is used as a market share predictor. The Brand Finance BrandBeta US 2021 report measures and identifies the most popular brands in the US from a market research sample size of approximately 12,000 Americans.

With nearly 5,000 stores nationwide, Walmart benefits from its sheer size and presence and according to Brand Finance’s research has the highest proportion of Americans who say they use the brand at 75%. This, paired with the essential nature of its operations, has contributed to Walmart’s leading BrandBeta score.

However, when looking at the general retail and e-commerce sector Amazon continues to narrow the gap in BrandBeta behind Walmart, from 0.2 in 2020 to a mere 0.05 in 2021. This is in line with Amazon’s market share which, in e-commerce sales, has increased from 39.8% in 2020 to 40.4% in 2021, an increase larger than any other company this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic increased Amazon’s familiarity with Americans, but according to Brand Finance’s research the brand’s breadth of product offerings, value for money and availability have also led to a high level of relevance to customers, which sits at 93% - the second highest score in the ranking.

The battle between e-commerce and traditional brick and mortar retail continues, with Walmart and Amazon competing to claim the title of America’s most popular brand. Walmart, the nation’s most used brand with 75% of Americans claiming to shop there, leads the race this year. However, we are likely to witness a shift in the coming years as Amazon’s dominance, which has only accelerated during the pandemic, continues to rise.

Laurence Newell, Managing Director Americas, Brand Finance

US Bank sees biggest rise in popularity

US Bank saw the biggest year-on-year increase in popularity in the US, its BrandBeta score growing an impressive 13% to 5.2 out of 10.

It launched a new digital strategy in 2019 with a focus on transforming the customer experience – the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated its digital transformation with the brand seeing a 56% year-on-year increase in customers using mobile banking in Q3 2021.

US Bank also finalized its takeover of MUFG Union Bank, giving it a greater presence on the West Coast, most notably in California. This expansion will lead to greater familiarity and provide an opportunity to further increase popularity and market share moving forward.

We are excited to announce the results of the inaugural Brand Finance BrandBeta US ranking, which assess the popularity of brands across the country through original market research. Some well-known brands lead the way at the top of the ranking, like Walmart and McDonald’s, but our research also highlights the year’s success stories, like US Bank’s boost in popularity thanks to their expansion to the West Coast.

Laurence Newell, Managing Director Americas, Brand Finance

Lockdowns boosts VTech’s BrandBeta

VTech has recorded the second biggest increase in popularity this year, up 6% to 4.8 points. Over the previous year, North America has become VTech’s second largest market globally and growth was predominantly seen across the brand’s sales to online retailers, that achieved a double-digit increase, as well as through standalone products which recorded a surge in demand as parents and children were forced to spend more time at home due to pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Nordstrom BrandBeta up 5%

Nordstrom has seen the third largest growth in popularity this year, up 5% to 5.9 points. At the start of the year, the department store chain announced a new strategy for long-term growth, with a focus of putting more investment into its already strong digital offering and its off-price subsidiary store, Nordstrom Rack, where it has increased the number of price points on offer to expand the customer base.

It has rolled out its market strategy to 10 more of its top markets, which represent around 75% of its sales. This strategy caters to the customer by providing personalized services both in-store and online, offering a greater choice of products through an integrated store and supply chain inventory, and providing greater convenience around delivery, in-store pick-ups and returns.

Valero’s green agenda pays off

Valero recorded a 5% increase in BrandBeta to 5.6 points. With the green agenda being pushed more than ever and at the forefront of consumers’ minds, the Texan-headquartered brand is well-positioned as North America’s largest renewable fuels producer, and the second largest in the world.

In a show of its commitment to sustainability, Valero recently announced it has completed the expansion of its Diamond Green Diesel production capabilities with a new site at its St. Charles refinery and is currently undertaking a large-scale carbon capture project in a joint venture with BlackRock and Navigator.

Tesla’s BrandBeta accelerates 4%

Tesla’s BrandBeta has accelerated 4% year-on-year to 5.4 points. Recently surpassing the US$1 trillion valuation – as well as being named the fastest growing brand in the Brand Finance Global 500 2021 report – Tesla’s growth is testament to the power of focused investment on an innovative, planet-changing product combined with unconventional, but noisy, marketing. According to Brand Finance’s research, Tesla is considered technologically advanced, sustainably focused and above all, a cool, socially accepted brand. Its biggest challenge is widespread acceptance, but the recent order of 100,000 Teslas by Hertz shows that the brand is making strides in the right direction.

McDonald’s is most familiar brand in US

BrandBeta contains only two measures: familiarity and relevance. Familiarity is a measure of depth of awareness and relevance is a measure of acceptance into customer’s consideration set.

McDonald’s is the second most popular brand in the US with a BrandBeta score of 9.0 out of 10, and registered an astounding 92% for familiarity, making it the most familiar brand in the US.

The high level of familiarity among Americans is unsurprising given it is the largest fast-food chain in the country, with over 13,500 restaurants currently operating. In addition to the enormous number of franchises around the country, it also invests heavily in advertising which, according to Brand Finance’s research, has been seen by 65% of Americans this year.

Brand Finance’s research also shows that 72% of Americans claim to have bought from the brand in the last year, the highest figure out of all the restaurant brands in the ranking. In a reflection of its market share, McDonald’s is ranked well ahead of its nearest competitors in the BrandBeta ranking, with Burger King sitting in 18th and Wendy’s in 21st.

Google ranks first for relevance

Google received the highest relevance score in the ranking, with 96% of Americans who are familiar with the brand putting it into their consideration set. The term ‘google’ is synonymous with searching the internet, and it is the most widely used search engine not only in the US, but across the world with an estimated market share of 92%. Coupled with a familiarity score of 85%, Google sits in 7th in the overall ranking with a BrandBeta score of 8.9 out of 10.

Food & drink sector dominates

Looking at the composition of the ranking by industry, the food and soft drink sector dominates with 14 brands featuring in the top 25. The sector has an abundance of well-known and respected national brands, but it is also a category that involves high customer switching, impulse purchase and a lack of customer loyalty and, as a result, many people are aware of and are willing to try many different brands.

Lay’s is the highest ranked brand in the sector in 4th spot, with a BrandBeta score of 8.9 points. Lay’s maintains popularity and relevance through regularly updating its products. According to Brand Finance’s research, 71% of Americans claim to have eaten Lay’s in the last year and 70% say they like its products.

Rivals Coca-Cola and Pepsi are neck and neck, claiming 15th and 16th spots for BrandBeta, respectively. Coca-Cola is the most consumed soda in the world – and the US – with 1.9 billion servings, across 200 countries, each day. Unsurprisingly, therefore, Coca-Cola is the second most familiar brand in the ranking scoring a staggering 90% for familiarity. Pepsi sits only marginally behind Coca-Cola with an 89% familiarity score.

Switzerland’s Nestlé and United Kingdom based Lipton are the only two non-US brands to feature in the top 25 of the ranking. Nestlé saw impressive growth in their at-home segment throughout the pandemic and Lipton saw Pure Leaf become the best-selling ready-to-drink tea brand in the US in 2021.

Food and drink brands are wildly popular as shown by their dominance in the ranking. However, the high level of customer switching indicates that customer loyalty strategies and individual targeting – rather than mass market – are unlikely to be particularly value-generative strategies for brands across the sector.

Laurence Newell, Managing Director Americas, Brand Finance