The year 2019 is behind us and, with it, a whole decade. In time honoured tradition, just like one of those countdowns that Channel 4 are so keen on around this time of year, it’s a chance for us to look back at the year that was 2019.
Since 2015, Mustard has published its Brands of the Year, and after the usual post-Christmas deliberating, cogitating and digesting, we’re back with our fifth edition of the #BOTY rankings.
2019 was a year when environmental issues came to the fore. More people than ever are aware of (and hopefully acting on) the Climate Emergency. Time Magazine named Greta Thunberg its Person of the Year. In the world of brands, companies that have taken a positive ethical and environmental stance have been front and centre, including:
- 50th: Octopus Energy
Electricity and gas supplier specialising in sustainable energy, it has recently acquired Engie’s residential energy supply business in the UK, its sixth acquisition in two years.
- 41st: Veganuary
Early this month it was estimated that 350,000 people had signed up to Veganuary, smashing 2019’s record of 250,000 participants worldwide. Burger King, KFC and the Co-op are just some of the businesses that have looked to “cash in” on the strength of the Veganuary brand.
- 36th: Beyond Meat
This leading meat substitute brand was valued by the stock market at $3.8bn in May 2019, and it has been announced that Beyond Meat will supply plant-based “fried chicken” to KFC restaurants in the US.
- 32nd: BBC (Natural History Unit)
Its documentaries showing how much our plastic waste is impacting the world have led to a shift in attitudes towards recycling and sustainability.
- 26th: Extinction Rebellion
One of the most talked about news topics in 2019 and labelled as a “key threat” by counter-terror police. Whether or not you agree with the tactics, the brand is certainly in the public consciousness like never before.
- 25th: Child’s Farm
Won the Small Business of the Year Award in 2018, and with 143% sales growth in last 3 years, its sensitive skin products are now available in more than 7,500 stores across the UK.
- 22nd: Leon
2019 carried on where 2018 left off for fast-casual chain Leon. Its plant-based menus have proved popular, in January 2018, 46% of sales were vegetarian and 34% vegan. By January 2019, sales were up to 64% and 55% respectively, with a sixth year of strong growth on the cards. To maintain the momentum, Leon launched its Plants Aren’t Just for Veganuary campaign at the start of 2019, which began with the successful launch of the LOVe burger, and has recently continued with the Chipotle Avocado burger. The brand is also expanding internationally.
Brands with connections to physical and mental well-being continue to perform well, including:
- 49th: Peleton
Now with more than a million members, it offers virtual workouts via its app and connected indoor bikes / treadmills – plus live classes, instructors and training programmes. Peloton may have appeared higher in the rankings had it not been for the infamous Christmas ad that triggered an avalanche of criticism.
- 47th: Decathlon
The French retailer has been praised for leading the way in offering the best omnichannel retail and digital store capabilities. Now the world’s biggest sports retailer, it will soon open its 50th UK store after total annual sales grew 14.4% and online sales increased by 19.6%.
- 37th: Nike
All elite runners now wear Nike, and mostly it’s the pink Vaporfly. Demand has been off-the-scale since Eliud Kipchoge’s sub 2-hour marathon, and although at the time of writing there is the possibility of the Vaporfly being banned from professional competition, its shoe has been a key factor in maintaining Nike’s place in the Mustard Top 50 brands of the year.
- 33rd: Grenade
Explosive growth – 73% sales growth in last 3 years. Grenade claims its Carb Killa protein bars are the UK’s second bestselling chocolate bar. Late in 2019 it also launched a range of oat-based protein snack bars (vegetarian, unlike Grenade’s Carb Killa bars) and it entered the energy drinks sector with Grenade Energy.
- 23rd: Gymshark
Gymshark remains high in the rankings, a brand with innovation at its core. It has opened a £5million innovation hub, launched workout plans, has been leading the way in terms of influencer engagement, has launched a “try now, pay later” service in the UK and Scandinavia, and has reported 141% sales growth in the last 3 years.
- 21st: Couch to 5K
This highly successful NHS fitness campaign has gained enormous traction in the UK by taking the “Ronseal” approach to branding. By the end of 2019 there were more than 115,000 ratings on the App Store (average of 4.8), with typical comments “THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE”. The app provides a training plan that takes users with no running history to being able to run a 5K by doing just three runs every week with incremental increases in distance.
- 13th: Parkrun
Parkrun is firmly established in the Mustard Brand of the Year rankings, up from 20th position in 2018. More events and more volunteers than ever, it is what Saturday mornings are all about for thousands in the UK and, increasingly, overseas. 2019 also saw the first parkrun held at a prison – at the Wandoo Rehabilitation centre in Australia.
Other brands have made the #BOTY rankings due, in part, to memorable and effective campaigns:
- 46th: Paddy Power
Yes, a gambling firm. The current media devils. But Paddy Power’s “Save our shirt” campaign has seen advertising removed from a number of football shirts, and for the better. And they did that hilarious “Hen Party sash” kit for Huddersfield Town, in true Paddy Power style. This “unsponsoring” has extended to advertising boards, matchday programs and man of the match awards at other clubs such as Newport County and Macclesfield Town.
- 38th Carlsberg
For years, Carlsberg was mocked for its “probably the best beer in the world” strapline, which led people to claim the laws of probability were all wrong. How refreshing for them to run a campaign that said “probably NOT the best beer in the world”, as part of a reformulation of their headline product. On trend, Carlsberg has just launched a new brand of alcohol free beer – Nordic.
As Smartphone ownership increases along with our reliance on our devices, we are also finding brands emerging from the App Store and embedding themselves into our lives. As the motherships of Apple, Samsung and Huawei have slipped down the rankings, there are the really useful app brands taking their place, including:
- 42nd: Goodreads
The app for logging books read and for inspiration on new books to read. This online book-club is being credited with a recent growth in book purchasing and readership.
- 18th: Waze
The driver’s co-pilot. Waze continues to innovate, and in 2019 launched a new feature that allows users to track toll prices.
- 17th Citymapper
The tourist’s / public transport user’s co-pilot. This app is especially useful in London on the Underground. Citymapper is viewed as one of Britain’s most successful consumer apps, with tens of millions of downloads, and has recently put itself up for sale.
There are two new brands this year that feature in the Top 10 of the 2019 Brand of the Year Rankings:
- 10th – Chilly’s
If imitation is a sincere form of flattery, then Chilly’s should feel very flattered indeed. Its flasks / bottles can be seen everywhere now, and Chilly’s led the way with their always cool branding and designs, which has coincided with a 284% sales growth in last 3 years.
- 9th – Tik Tok
Ain’t nothing gonna break its stride. The social media platform for creating, sharing and discovering short music videos has exploded onto the scene in 2019. Especially popular with younger people, Tik Tok is influencing music sales worldwide. It has also done wonders for Matthew Wilder.
But mostly, 2019 will be remembered for a year that, politically speaking, nothing much changed for what seemed like forever. Till we got to mid-December and lots changed. It seemed we were paralysed by BREXLOCK for most of the year – culminating in another General Election. This meant a bad year for a lot of Politicians, a good year for Laura Kuenssberg (assuming she’s paid overtime).
In the spirit of “impasse” (purely coincidentally) there is also very little change at the top of the Mustard Brand of the Year rankings:
8th place (DOWN 1): Instagram
7th place (DOWN 1): WhatsApp
6th place (UP 8): Spotify
5th place (DOWN 1): Monzo
4th place (UP 1): Aldi
THE TOP 3
3rd place (NON-MOVER): Amazon
The brand further permeates into our lives through its Prime services (including TV) and Alexa virtual assistant. The value of the brand has surged to catch up with Apple and Google, and it now has plans to dominate the High Street.
2nd place (NON-MOVER): Greggs
This time last year, the vegan sausage roll caused a huge stir, and this is being replicated again with the vegan steak bake, with stories of out of stocks and queues to get hold of these non-meat treats. Greggs has issued FIVE profit upgrades since January 2019 and its share price has almost doubled, with sales up 13.5% year-on-year. They are a model employer – getting rid of zero hours contracts, spreading £7million bonuses across the employer base and is ranked 10th in the FTSE250 for women in leadership.
Which means that, for the third year in a row, the Mustard Brand of the Year is…
1st place: NETFLIX
Netflix added 8.8m subscribers in the final quarter of 2019, eclipsing forecasts as it competed head-on for the first time with rival services from Disney and Apple. The Witcher was its most watched series in the UK.
BUT COULD THE CROWN BE ABOUT TO SLIP?
In the US, its largest market, Netflix added only 420,000 subscribers in 2019 — well below the 1.5m in the same period a year ago.
Watch this space.
The 2019 Brand of the Year Rankings in full (feel free to join the discussion #BOTY2019):
19 Cancer Research UK
21 Couch to 5k
24 Burger King
25 Child’s Farm
26 Extinction Rebellion
29 Kylie Cosmetics
32 BBC (Natural History Unit)
35 Liverpool FC
36 Beyond Meat
39 Junkyard Golf
40 Naked Wines
44 The Ordinary
46 Paddy Power
50 Octopus Energy