COVID-19 vaccine race among giants

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, pharma giants, governments, and multilateral organisations have been pouring billions of dollars’ worth into vaccine development – a journey that has been undertaken at record pace, as the world races to bring the pandemic under control through mass immunisation.

One of the fastest falling brands last year, Pfizer, has reversed its fortunes recording a 6% brand value increase to US$4.0 billion. Its partnership with fellow-German biotech company, BioNTech, has propelled Pfizer to become a household name as it celebrated the achievement of creating the fastest vaccine to go from concept to reality – an achievement accomplished in a mere ten months, a journey that would normally take closer to ten years.

Another forerunner in the vaccine race, partnered with Oxford University, is AstraZeneca, which has recorded a healthy 18% brand value to growth US$3.2 billion. Despite being hailed as another global success story, AstraZeneca has been hitting the headlines recently for the wrong reasons and has been pulled from multiple countries over fears of blood clot risks.

China’s Sinopharm has recorded a 58% brand value increase to US$2.4 billion, simultaneously jumping 3 spots to 11thposition. Sinopharm is making major strides in the global race to produce COVID-19 vaccinations and has since developed a vaccine with a high efficacy rate, which has already been distributed to millions worldwide.

Sanofi (down 7% to US$3.2 billion) and GSK (down 2% to US$3.5 billion) have entered a partnership for vaccine development. As of May 2021, the vaccine is in the second phase of the trial and has demonstrated positive results.  

Alex Haigh, Director, Brand Finance, commented:

“As soon as it became clear that the outbreak of Coronavirus in China might become a global pandemic, the race to develop a vaccine began. Pharma giants have become household names recognised the world over, and there is a direct correlation between the creation of a successful vaccine and brand value growth. Arguably the two most famous vaccine creators – Pfizer and AstraZeneca – have recorded 6% and 18% increases in brand value, respectively.”


Johnson & Johnson retains top spot

Johnson & Johnson has retained its position as the world’s most valuable pharma brand, with a brand value of US$10.8 billion.

Aside from successfully entering the COVID-19 vaccine race – with nearly nine million Americans vaccinated with it as of May 2021 – Johnson & Johnson continues to showcase its position as the world’s largest healthcare company, celebrating several significant achievements over the last year, and ensuring that its approvals and pipeline of approvals remain on track.

2020 was a record year for research and development for Johnson & Johnson, with the brand investing US$12.2 billion, up from US$800 million in 2019. This, paired with over seven billion dollars’ worth of acquisitions, has put the brand in a strong position to continue to grow in the coming year and beyond the pandemic.

Despite recording a marginal 1% drop in brand value, Johnson & Johnson retains a healthy lead over second-placed Roche, with a brand value of US$7.7 billion. In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value. According to these criteria, Roche is the world’s strongest pharma brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 74.2 out of 100 and corresponding AA brand strength rating.


Bristol Myers Squibb acquisitions leads to strong growth

Bristol Myers Squibb is the fastest growing brand in the Brand Finance Pharma 25 2021 ranking, its brand value up a staggering 84% to US$4.1 billion, simultaneously jumping from 13th to 5th position.

The brand has been thriving since the successful US$74 billion acquisition of Celgene Corporation at the end of 2019, which formed one of the world’s leading biopharma companies, and the results of this are reflected in the pharma giant’s solid financial results over the previous year. Following the acquisition, it undertook a rebrand, including a new logo and website, to unify the two brands and to reflect the new Bristol Myers Squibb. Bristol Myers Squibb continues to set its sight on expansion and make strides in strengthening its portfolio, recently announcing plans to acquire clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, MyoKardia.


Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals Corporation is highest new entrant

There are four new entrants into the Brand Finance Pharma 2021 ranking this year, Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals Corporation (brand value US$1.5 billion) in 19th, CSL (brand value US$827 million) in 23rd, Sandoz (brand value US$643 million) in 24th and Yunnan Baiyao (brand value US$621 million) in 25th.

Highest new entrant GPC – one of China’s largest drug makers – has recently entered a partnership with PepsiCo to jointly develop healthy oatmeal products. Furthermore, as one of the top Chinese medicine manufacturers, GPC has been making significant developments by contributing its knowledge of the traditional Chinese medicine – Banlangen – towards controlling the pandemic.


Brand Finance Medical Devices 25

Medtronic growth strategy pays off

Medtronic is the clear leader across the medical devices sector, with a brand value of US$9.3 billion, considerably ahead of second-placed Fresenius (brand value US$5.5 billion). The Minnesota-headquartered brand leads the way for a further 15 US brands in the ranking, which account for nearly three quarters of the total brand value.

Medtronic is the world’s largest medical technology company and now operates from over 350 locations, across more than 150 countries. The repercussions from the pandemic have been mixed for Medtronic. On the one hand, it has been able to continue towards its expansion strategy of acquiring several smaller companies, with seven alone being acquired in 2020.  On the other hand, sales declined sharply as the pandemic significantly reduced the number of medical procedures being undertaken, resulting in a marginal 1% decline in brand value this year.

Alex Haigh, Director, Brand Finance, commented:

“A large part of Medtronic’s business model is acquiring smaller companies into its portfolio. The pandemic turmoil of the previous year has actually fuelled this model and benefitted the brand as it continues to acquire smaller brands that are not as well equipped to ride the wave of the pandemic. These acquisitions, as part of Medtronic’s wider growth strategy, have protected its brand value and would have helped to offset the decline in sales.”


Coloplast up impressive 20%

On average, brands in the Brand Finance Medical Devices 25 2021 ranking have lost 3% of their brand value year-on-year. Bucking the sector trend is Denmark’s Coloplast, recording an impressive 20% brand value increase to US$940 million.

Coloplast has celebrated healthy results, posting strong organic growth across all geographic regions and business areas. Growth in Europe, however, has taken a hit during the pandemic as new patient expansion slows. Coloplast’s strong results are also a consequence of inorganic growth, through the acquisition of Nine Continents Medical, which was completed at the end of last year.


BD is sector’s strongest

With a Brand Strength Index score of 75.2 out of 100 and a AA+ brand strength rating, BD is the world’ strongest medical devices brand. BD prides itself on its holistic approach to CSR. Since 2015, the brand has been striving towards its 2030+ sustainability strategy, driven by the brand’s purpose of ‘advancing the world of health’. This strategy focuses on its contribution to more sustainable healthcare systems, helping to provide healthcare access for all globally, reducing its environmental footprint, and empowering the workforce and communities it operates in.

Brand strength is also a crucial driver of brand value. BD has recorded a 4% brand value uptick to US$4.5 billion. BD played an integral role in COVID-19 testing through the successful launch of the BD Life Sciences–Integrated Diagnostic Solutions team.


Brand Finance Healthcare Services 10

UnitedHealthcare maintains lead

UnitedHealthcare is the most valuable healthcare services brand in the world, despite recording a 4% brand value loss to US$27.3 billion. Providing health care benefits globally, serving individuals and employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, UnitedHealthcare has recorded solid revenue results this year. Thanks to growth within the communities and senior programs, an additional 1.2 million people were served in Medicare and Medicaid advantage, a figure the brand hopes to increase to 1.5 million in 2021.

Fellow UnitedHealthcare Group subsidiary, Optum, sits in 4th position, recording a 4% increase in brand value to US$12.4 billion.


Anthem is strongest healthcare services brand

Sitting in second in the Brand Finance Healthcare Services 2021 ranking and claiming the title as strongest brand is Anthem, with a brand value of US$15.9 billion and a Brand Strength Index score of 73.1 out of 100.

As with brands across the healthcare services sector, Anthem experienced higher-than-expected profits for the majority of 2020 as many Americans were putting off non-essential medical treatments and surgeries. As the nation begins to return to some levels of normality, with the vaccine rollout continuing in full force, there has been a resurgence in care, which will cause a dent to the brand’s profits.


Humana and McKesson up 6%

Humana (brand value US$13.3 billion) and McKesson (brand value US$5.0 billion) are this year’s fastest growing brands in the Brand Finance Healthcare Services 10 2021 ranking, both recording 6% brand value growth.

Humana recorded solid financial results, thanks largely to the increase in its Medicare Advantage program seeing an 11% increase in membership growth.

McKesson has been responsible for the successful distribution of over 150 million COVID-19 vaccinations as at the end of April 2021.