Homepage Pilot PR newsroom

2021 FutureBrand Index: strongest brands make innovation and human wellbeing their priority

Announcement posted by Pilot PR 01 Sep 2021


  • Top Ten dominated by future-focused technology companies.

  • The pandemic effect has disproportionately affected consumer-facing brands,
    with many of 2020’s Top Ten displaced by B2B giants. 

  • Apple is the only company to remain in the Top Five from 2020.

  • Healthcare companies benefit from their association with improving quality of life,
    irrespective of whether or not they are directly involved in combating the pandemic.

  • The financial services sector saw a rise in overall perception for the first time
    in years as global attention shifts to fixing the economy and trusted institutions.

  • Brands offering the “pleasure factor”, such as LVMH, P&G and PepsiCo,
    were also boosted as consumers seek new ways to feel good.


Sydney, 1 September 2021: Companies that prioritise innovation, positively impact individual wellbeing and drive change for good at scale are the brands set to thrive, according to the 2021 FutureBrand Index, released today. 

The report reveals extensive changes for brands since the start of the pandemic: B2B brands have overtaken consumer brands in the rankings (four of the top five global brands are B2B), while healthcare and tech brands get a boost due to changing consumer priorities in the face of COVID-19.

All brands in the top five are companies in the tech space or linked to it, only Apple held onto its place in the top five leading global brands (down one place from 2020 to #2), Pfizer surged forward 15 places to #30, Amazon jumped 13 spots to rank #11, and LVMH leaped forward 45 places to to #37.

On the 2021 FutureBrand Index and its implications for businesses and brands, FutureBrand Australia CEO Rich Curtis commented: “With all the changes happening in the world around us, it’s more important now than ever that we study and understand what it takes to transform brands so businesses grow, as the mechanisms that traditionally enabled brand growth have rapidly evolved and this will only continue. This latest edition of the FutureBrand Index does just that and the data is evidence of this rapid evolution. The report highlights the benefits of forging an emotional connection with the brands that customers want to buy products or services from, the value of drawing inspiration from the brands employees want to work for, and the importance of consistency in strengthening the all-important link between a brand’s purpose and the everyday experience.

“In the midst of the global pandemic, there are clear signs that we are living in a future-focused world. Failing to keep up with technology and respond to changing customer tastes and expectations are perceived to be the key threats to future success – consequently, brands associated with the infrastructure, products and services with which we will build our future benefit from significant competitive advantage.”

Now in its seventh 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 over 3,000 informed professionals.


Here are the key insights from the 2021 edition:

  1. Looking beyond the pandemic: This year’s FutureBrand Index reveals that today’s thriving companies prioritise innovation to impact individual wellbeing and drive change for good at scale. This means a significant opportunity for the companies that create the platforms and infrastructures on which human life can thrive into the future.

  2. The Top Five brands:  ASML Holdings (#1), Apple (#2), Prosus NV (#3), Danaher (#4) and Nextera Energy (#5).

  3. The Top Five risers: Saudi Aramco (#28, up 63 places), Tata Consultancy (#20, up 45 places), LVMH (#29, up 37 places), Berkshire Hathaway (#50, up 33 places), China Mobile (#45, up 27 places).

  4. Technology leads the way: The Technology sector dominates the FutureBrand Index with three of this year’s Top Five coming from this sector: ASML, Apple and Prosus NV.

  5. Healthcare continues to surge: The Healthcare sector continues to grow as Pfizer and United Health Group surge forward during the pandemic.

  6. A renewed focus on the pleasure factor: Feeling good and the pursuit of simple pleasures has proved important to consumers during a year of uncertainty and crisis. Luxury consumer brands such as Apple and LVMH have capitalised on this, but the likes of Amazon and P&G have also benefited.

  7. B2B companies becoming ‘household’ names: B2B companies that in previous FutureBrand Indexes were seen lower down the list, such as ASML and Danaher, have surged forward as behind-the-scenes Tech and Pharma brands become ‘household’ names and society focuses on the innovation that will help us come out of the pandemic.

FutureBrand Australia Head of Strategy Victoria Berry added: "Our research reveals that today’s thriving companies are the ones tangibly demonstrating their value and indispensability in ways that go above and beyond their products or services. We're seeing a renewed focus on corporate purpose and ESG in its broadest sense: it’s the brands contributing to the wellbeing of individuals and society and offering a way out of the pandemic that are enjoying the strongest performance. Interestingly, B2B brands that have typically operated ‘behind-the-scenes’ while underpinning everyday life are now surging forward to become household names in the minds of consumers in Australia and around the world."




  Technology has performed strongly: three of this year’s Top Five Risers come from this sector. 

  Aside from Apple, consumer tech brands have slipped down the FutureBrand Index, while the companies that are critical behind-the-scenes enablers of technology have risen. This is likely due to their response to the pandemic, as well as societies’ and economies' need for technology to survive lockdowns and quarantines. 


Consumer discretionary:

-   LVMH has benefitted from increased consumer spending on luxury goods and online shopping, jumping 29 places up the FutureBrand Index. Consumer goods and services that rely on physical retail have suffered during the pandemic, Walmart fell 34 places and McDonald’s fell 32 places.


Consumer staples:

-   Consumer staples have benefitted from recurring lockdowns with PepsiCo and P&G top risers in the category, jumping 24 and 22 places.

-    As with previous years, ‘Pleasure’ remains this category’s single strongest attribute, unsurprising for a year when our sources of pleasure were limited to those housed within our own four walls.


  Healthcare companies have continued on the FutureBrand Index’s trend of 2020 in surging forward and are now perceived as indispensable towards innovating in the future. 

  Pfizer has jumped 15 places up the FutureBrand Index, benefiting from its vaccine success as well as the global realisation around the role of pharmaceutical companies in ensuring we are able to operate in the post-pandemic society. 

Financial Services:

  The sector has had its highest performance score since the FutureBrand Index began in 2014 as a result of the greater need to rely on and trust financial institutions when business has been struggling, incomes reduced and jobs lost.



Notes to editors:



Now in its seventh year, the FutureBrand Index is a global perception study that reorders PwC’s Global Top 100 Companies by Market Capitalisation on perception strength rather than financial strength. Unlike most other ratings, the FutureBrand Index offers a rigorous assessment of how future proof the world’s 100 most prominent companies are, based on the views of an informed and professional sample.Using 18 indicators that, in FutureBrand’s experience, provide the most relevant signals of success (including ‘purpose’ and ‘experience’), the rankings are determined with precise and proven parameters.In previous years, our research has conclusively demonstrated that organisations who top the Index have a measurable competitive advantage, in part due to their standing on national and international stages. Importantly, our rankings show that financial strength does not necessarily translate into perception strength.This year’s fieldwork took place between 27 April - 12 May 2021.

About FutureBrand Australia:

FutureBrand Australia is a brand transformation company. The company exists to strengthen the connection between brand purpose and everyday experience, giving brands a measurable competitive advantage that helps businesses grow. FutureBrand Australia has been locally owned since July 2020, when CEO Rich Curtis acquired the business from Interpublic Group and transformed the business into an entrepreneurial and independently-minded team with the global relationships and resources of FutureBrand worldwide. Rich and his team are investing locally to help build brands and develop proprietary brand transformation methods that provide better outcomes for clients. For more information, visit FutureBrand.com and connect with Rich Curtis on LinkedIn. 


About the FutureBrand Index’s partners:



QRi Consulting is FutureBrand’s global research partner for the FutureBrand Index. Working in close collaboration, QRi helped to define the research approach against FutureBrand’s initial hypothesis, as well as managing recruitment, questionnaire development, and providing in-depth analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data underpinning the report. This is informed by QRi’s extensive research, brand and sector knowledge and experience as well as its proprietary QualiQuant methodologies.



FutureBrand has worked with the Capital Markets division of PwC in the UK, who kindly provided its Global Top 100 Companies by market capitalisation ranking as the data source for this research and report. The report and its findings have been informed by Capital Markets’ data, but FutureBrand is responsible for all views, opinion and data emerging from this research unless otherwise stated.