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Finance, energy, connectivity, health: four big bets of The FutureBrand Index

By Octopus Group on 22nd November 2021

As a creative agency, coming up with ‘thought leadership’ is a funny process. We get together, kick some theories about, and sometimes round off with a small argument over whether we’ve actually landed on profound insight.

At the start of 2021, we landed on a B2B theory that later became our Supercharging B2B trends whitepaper. As our Behind B2B blog series proves, we all know that B2B marketing is a really interesting place to be right now, but we wanted to go a bit deeper – looking at the business and commercial influences we believe are changing our work.

The four key trends

In Supercharging B2B, we focused on….

  • Finance: Digitisation in finance and the advance of fintech
  • Energy: The commitment to Net Zero across the energy sector
  • Connectivity (Technology): 5G, fibre and cloud in connectivity and telecoms
  • Health: Employee centred healthcare and the COVID recovery in health

The good news? We’re not talking total rubbish – because The FutureBrand Index (a global ranking that reorders PwC’s Global Top 100 Companies by Market Capitalisation on perception strength, rather than financial strength) has highlighted pretty much exactly the same market dynamics we have.

FutureBrand sectors in detail

Looking at the FutureBrand Index, we found that our four ‘supercharged’ sectors were all reflected in the highest scoring brands. Three of our trends were called out directly in the sector analysis, including:

Finance

Despite a rocky period during the early months of the pandemic, “The sector has scooped its highest performance score since the FutureBrand Index began in 2014, perhaps as a result of the greater need to rely on and trust financial institutions when business has been struggling, incomes reduced and jobs lost.” Chinese banks in particular have climbed strongly up the rankings – potentially a reflection of the payments innovation going on in-region.

Connectivity (Technology)

As an agency, tech and connectivity have always been one of our focus areas – so you might think we’re biased on this one. But the Index agrees, arguing that it’s B2B tech, rather than consumer goods, that are shaping the future.

“This year’s technology success stories are companies which are critical behind-the-scenes enablers of the technology which underpins our everyday lives. In particular, the widely reported and disruptive shortage of semiconductors which began at the end of 2020 appears to have had a huge impact on the perception of B2B companies which manufacture microchips and semiconductors.”

The Index also reflected on “an urgent need for connectivity at home – whether for work or play – has made information technology services and internet providers like Prosus or Tata Consultancy even more indispensable. Technology continues to lead the way, with the need for connectivity elevated in light of the physical and emotional distance necessitated by global lockdowns.”

Healthcare

Unsurprisingly, the ‘onset of, and adjustment to, the pandemic over the last 12 months has made healthcare brands even more indispensable’. And while some vaccine-associated companies have endured some negative press, “the really good news is that, according to our respondents, Healthcare companies generally remain strongly associated with improving quality of life.”

And as for energy?

While energy as a sector wasn’t explicitly explored in the Index, one of the top brands is an energy company. After entering the rankings for the first time in 2020, NextEra Energy took the number five spot overall in the 2021 survey. As the Index put it:

“Reflecting its focus on delivering a sustainable future through alternative energy solutions is the fact that 69% of our respondents felt that the company would still be moving ahead of others in three years’ time, 10% higher than our Index average.”

Supercharged sectors

The FutureBrand Index acknowledges that the last year has ‘super-charged public worry as our worst fears for our health, wealth, environment and society were escalated and conflated’. While that’s a stressful state of affairs, the flipside is that (as the Index shows) there’s any number of fantastic companies working hard to innovate in all these areas, changing our world for the better and making B2B central to all our futures.

Want to dive into the forces shaping B2B and making our industry the most interesting place to be? Download your copy of Supercharged B2B now.

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