For 14 years we have conducted The Brand Capital - the most extensive brand and lifestyle study in the Baltics. During this time new brands have materialised and the “old” ones have not been resting on their laurels. People’s attitudes and habits have dramatically changed and continue to do so. As a result, every year we add new industries, brands and current issues to the study. This year’s list of brands has been defined by a range of digital tools, services and brands in other sectors, which have become a familiar daily occurrence in recent years. As usual, the brand measurement criteria are: appeal, quality, uniqueness, value and greenness. But this year we have also added a new category: Latvia’s Most Humane Brands Chart, which recognises social responsibility.
More Love for the Most Humane Brands
As is the case in any relationship, in the world of brands we appreciate trust, responsibility, passion and other humane qualities. In other words, we have more respect and love for those who have their own opinion, who take a stand on matters of public importance and make their contribution to society. Following the worldwide trend of recognising social responsibility, we have compiled Latvia’s first Most Humane Brands Chart. The question we asked the Latvian public was: To what extent does a specific brand bring about positive changes within society? Deservedly, Latvijas Valsts Meži, Swedbank and LMT are at the top, because they have long demonstrated their support for various issues of national and public importance. These causes include: a clean environment, modern education, improving national confidence, etc. It turns out that social responsibility has a significant influence on the number of people who love a brand, even surpassing uniqueness and quality. The leaders of this chart were also at the top of the Latvian Employers’ Brands Chart published last year, thus confirming that a humane disposition attracts and motivates both brands themselves, as well as those around them.
Virtual Love is as Strong as Ever
In recent years, global and local digital tool and service brands (such as Google, Facebook, Inbox, etc.) have ended up being at the upper end of the Most Loved Brands Chart. This year their dominance has increased to the extent that 6 out to the top 10 most loved brands come from this sector. Since we interact with these brands’ apps countless times a day on our smartphones, it’s only logical that our relationships with them are becoming closer and more intimate. Even Swedbank, which is consistently present at the top of the chart, is essentially a virtual tool on our smartphones and computers. In fact, these days it is very rare to encounter a real-life bank employee. The Brand Capital lifestyle data shows that people are becoming increasingly open to technologies. They perceive fewer threats and more benefits. However, experience shows that everything is cyclical. Therefore, there’s the possibility that after consuming all of these virtual benefits, the general public will once again start to appreciate “live” experiences.
Potential Unicorns are Building Their Muscles
For the second year in a row, we compiled the Top Latvian Startup Brands Chart in collaboration with Accenture. It is pleasing to know that businesses in this sector are continuing to grow. There are about 300 startups in Latvia and around 1,000 in the Baltics, most of which are technology-based and oriented towards global markets. It comes as no surprise therefore that we received more nominations for the Top Brands Chart than last year. There has also been a corresponding improvement in the level of pitch presentations given by the teams that made it to the final. Once again, we were reminded that there is no shortage of young entrepreneurs and passionate innovators in Latvia for whom ideas have no limit. Likewise, it is clear that very soon we will have unicorns (meaning: a business whose value has reached USD 1 billion). One of the most realistic ways to accelerate this process could be partnerships between startups and corporate giants, because the former have innovative ideas and new technological solutions, while the latter have vast resources and experience. That’s why the Top Brands Chart has become a platform where these contrasting companies can meet and get to know one another, and hopefully join forces to make a bigger leap in the direction of unicorns.
Waiting for the Bear of Happiness
Although critical thinking is gradually evolving in Latvia and this year on average 4% fewer people trusted media and communication channels of all types, there is also a growing public demand for a ‘Bear of Happiness’ (a fictional character created by Latvian author Andrejs Upīts). This Bear would solve all their problems and answer questions in our place. During the past three years, there has been a 15% increase in the number of people who’ve bought a lottery ticket or engaged in gambling in one form or another. Every third person believes in horoscopes, 61% of people believe in God and almost as many believe that there is life on other planets. However, there is no longer confidence in pensions, because less than half of the population believes that the State will provide them with a normal pension.
We’re Marching into our Second Century Full of Determination
This year there was a continuation of the trend to seek new experiences in the physical and digital world, which often means using various technologies. We’re doing more travelling around Latvia, as well as to other countries (+ 8%). We’re watching internet programmes more than last year (+10%). Over half of the population has now used a smart device, app or a homepage for sports activities or health monitoring (+8%). Moreover, the majority of the public believes that artificial intelligence will improve our lives and deliver significant benefits during the next five years. Almost everyone (90%) agrees with the assertion that in order to be successful in your career, you need to continually learn new skills.
All that remains is to express the hope that we won’t stop at sensible insights and answers in surveys, and that we really are learning new skills, allowing technology to improve the quality of our lives, living in an environment-friendly way, and fostering positives changes personally and in the world around us. If so, then our view of both Latvia’s future and our own will be increasingly bright.
You can find out more about the Top Brands Chart in the October edition of Kapitāls magazine, which is also available in a digital version. You can check out photos from the event and all the winners, as well as the interactive charts at: