FutureBrand Index 2020 reveals seismic shift in the perception of PwC’s top 100 companies since outbreak of Covid-19

First comprehensive study into the perception of global brands since lockdown indicates the pandemic has forever changed the game of corporate survival in a matter of months, forcing corporates to prioritise the needs of consumers and staff to unprecedented levels. Perceptions of Apple, L’Oréal, Netflix, PayPal and Walmart have all seen a boost, while financial services and telco companies suffer losses to how they’re perceived.

The results of the FutureBrand Index 2020, reveal huge changes in the perception and behaviour of global corporates since the start of the pandemic. The comprehensive study, commissioned during lockdown by global brand consultancy FutureBrand, indicates that it’s now urgent for companies to proactively put the needs of their staff and employees first if they want to have the competitive advantage in the year ahead. 

Top 5 insights: 

  1. The top 5 risers: Global perception ofOil & gas firms increases with Royal Dutch Shell the clear winner, up 59 places to 29, bucking the expected trend of a decline in the perception of fossil fuel bands. Roche, Oracle, L’Oréal, and Walmart also see the biggest rises in global perception.
  2. The biggest fallers: Telecoms and Financial Services companies see a fall in perception, with Warren Buffett’s investment vehicle Berkshire Hathaway and
  3. China Life Insurance among the biggest fallers.
  4. The rise and rise of the consumer brand: Consumer goods and services have had the biggest success in the rankings, with L’Oréal, Netflix and Walmart demonstrating how a proactive response to the pandemic has boosted internal and external perception of these brands.
  5. The battleground for tech: Despite Apple’s place at no.1, tech remains volatile versus healthcare and pharma brands, who are now seen as the innovators putting human needs first.  
  6. Companies of the future: Making their first appearances in the index top 20, innovative energy and infrastructure firms, such as Nextera Energy, Reliance Industries and ASML, suggest future economies will be high tech, renewable and ethical.

Now in its sixth year, the FutureBrand Index is a global perception study that reorders PwC’s Global Top 100 Companies by Market Cap on perception strength, rather than financial strength, drawing on rigorous research with a global sample of 3,000 informed professionals from 17 countries. 

Jon Tipple, Global Chief Strategy Officer and FutureBrand, commented“The biggest link between the best performing companies in the index is that they’ve all shown a highly individual response to Covid-19 as well as other significant market and societal shifts. This means prioritising what their staff and customers need and want most and delivering with oodles of authentic personality even if it means breaking with category conventions and norms. While these traits were once a ‘nice-to-have’, they are now crucial for corporate success”

Sector-by-sector summary:

Consumer goods and services

  • Consumer goods and services win out overall, with L’Oréal (rising from no.57 to no.20) and Walmart (rising from no.75 to no.41) leading the category because of their exemplary responses to the pandemic. 
  • In the battleground of entertainment, Netflix has eclipsed Disney and now takes tenth place while Disney slumps to 17. Netflix has come into its own since lockdown and scores highly on resilience, future prospects and people’s passion for its services.


  • On first glance, tech does well: of the top ten tech firms, two were new entrants to the global 100 (ASML and Prosus NV) and six were year-on-year climbers, with Apple, Samsung and Nvidia performing best.
  • However, tech brands all slip when looking at the bigger picture over the last 6 years of the index, losing ground to innovators in healthcare.


  • Healthcare companies surge forward and are now perceived to be doing what tech companies were once famous for – innovating for the good of mankind.
  • New entrant Danaher, in at 16, is already being seen as an established leader in medical technology, and Roche is one of the highest rises, up 49 places, with projects that include the production of coronavirus antibody tests and experimental treatments for the virus.

Financial Services 

  • Financial services fall overall, suggesting any gains the sector may have made since the financial crash have been overshadowed by the current uncertainty in the global economy.
  • Warren Buffett’s investment vehicle, Berkshire Hathaway, falls significantly while dynamic real estate investment trust American Tower Corporation (a new entrant at no.19) is one to watch.

Industrials/Telecoms/Oil & Gas 

  • Telecoms suffer overall along with Industrials suggesting these brands are losing touch with people.
  • Oil & gas firms move up with Royal Dutch Shell a clear winner, up 59 places to 29 bucking the expected trend of a decline in the perception of fossil fuel bands.
  • PayPal l is also a standout winner, making its debut entry at 9, with a perception as a reliable, trusted and resilient company.

Source: FutureBrand

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