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Most Trusted Brands 2019-20: Key Observations and Surprises

Recently, ET Brand Equity came up with the Top 100 most trusted brands of 2019-20. It is one of the key rankings that marketing and branding fraternity folks eagerly await every year. This year the rankings sprung in few surprises. With due respect to the methodology, analytics team and the reviewers, I have covered few observations and some surprises that I felt.

The Top 10

Two of the top 5 brands are owned by Social Media giant Facebook. In an era of data privacy concerns, it was really surprising for me to see two of the brands from Facebook to be in the Top 5. It seems WhatsApp’s Rs. 120 crore five months aggressive campaign across print, TV and radio with the objective to create awareness about fake news, helped it earn enormous mileage. Colgate and Dettol were the two personal care brands in the Top 10, no doubt them being there, as both are household brands in the country. Two biscuit brands also featured in Top 10, one each from Britannia and Parle-G stable. Fevicol is one brand which is distinct in nature from the consumption point of view. Unlike, biscuits, chocolates or social media, we hardly use an adhesive in daily life. Yet, Fevicol has maintained well to be in the top 10, may be due to their unique, funny TVCs that are hard to forget. Also, in the adhesive category, Fevicol has become a generic term, thanks to its legacy.

Most Prominent Categories

The most prominent category has been OTC with about eight brands to be perceived as trustworthy – Moov, Zandu Balm, Vicks, Eno, Dabur, Hajmola, Boroplus and Iodex. Many of them are pain relief balms. Wait! Where is Volini? It didn’t feature in the entire list.

Second Most Prominent Categories

The second most prominent categories were Biscuits and Aerated Drinks, with each having seven brands in the list. The biscuits category was dominated by Britannia’s brands (Good Day, Marie Gold, Bourbon), while Parle followed with two brands (Parle-G and Parle 20-20). Mondelez (Oreo) and ITC (Sunfeast) managed to be part of the biscuits portfolio with late 90s ranks. While the Aerated Drinks category was swept by Coca-Cola, with five of its brands of the seven. The rest two were from Pepsi, obviously no-brainer.

Third Most Prominent Categories

The third most prominent categories were Detergents and Health Nutrition. The Detergents category was led by three brands from HUL stable (Surf Excel, Vim, Rin), while P&G followed with Ariel and Tide. The Health Nutrition category had brands each from GSK, Heinz, Cadbury and Nestle.

Most Trusted Brands 2019
Most Trusted Brands 2019-20

Few Surprises

I was quite surprised on inclusion and exclusion of many brands in the Top 100 most trusted brands list.

No Google? Most of our life’s problems are sorted by one or the other Google products. Search being the most prominent one, followed by Maps, Reviews, Mail etc. However, YouTube was the only one brand from Google’s portfolio that made it to the list and that too at Rank 32.

Is WhatsApp really more trustable? I don’t have any reservations regarding WhatsApp, but to find it as the 2nd most trusted brand in the country was a bit hard to digest. Many a times, we falter in identifying if the forwarded message to us on WhatsApp is true or not. WhatsApp had tough time in 2019 where they came up with extensive print media campaign to create awareness about data privacy and trust worthiness of the platform. If anything that could support the successful outcome for that campaign, it would be this achievement of being 2nd most trusted brand in the country. 

Have Tata, Reliance, Birla, Kotak, Mahindra lost the ‘trust’ charm? In many colloquial conversations we keep saying that the country is run by Tata, Reliance, Birla, Kotak, Mahindra etc. I am super surprised that except Tata Salt and Reliance Jio, no other brand from any of these conglomerates feature in the top 100 most trusted brands list.

Aren’t telecom brands more trust-worthy than banks? Banks and Telecom sector brands have been in news for all wrong reasons in the recent times. Yet, all three major telecom brands in the country were found to be trustworthy (Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, Jio), while just three banks made it to the list. The three banks were SBI, ICICI and Bank of India.  I am surprised to not see Axis, Kotak Mahindra, HDFC banks in this list. What could have led for them to not make it to the list?

Is ONLY Uber trustable (against Ola)? We have just two major cab aggregators (Uber and Ola) who serve across the length and breadth of the country. However, only Uber manages to make it to the list, and that too with Rank 94. Why didn’t respondents find Ola trustable? Both brands spend crores of rupees in establishing their trust-worthiness, and yet struggle to convincingly gain the trust badge.

How are Soft drinks (read: Aerated drinks) trust-worthy? While one set of campaigns are focusing on consuming organic drinks and avoiding soft drinks, definitely the noise created by soft drinks is much louder.Not once, but multiple times we have faced issues with these famous soft drink brands, and yet respondents find them to be trust-worthy!

We neither trust many Retailers nor E-commerce destinations. Increasingly we all are inclined towards e-commerce shopping and yet in top 100 most trusted brands only one brand (Flipkart) makes the cut. Wonder if there is an Indian connection to it, else I see no reason for Amazon to miss that list. Similarly, when it comes to offline retail just Big Bazaar was found to be trust-worthy. How about other chains like Shopper Stop, Max, etc?

May be the questions and surprises that occurred to me could be addressable if we get to see the list of most trusted brands beyond Top 100. But, the charm lies in making it to the Top 100!

As I mentioned in the beginning, this blog post in no way is intended to comment or criticize the methodology or the robustness of the study. Attempt has been to reflect from a consumer’s angle and compare it with the daily trends that we observe among our neighborhood.


I am presently employed as Associate Director (Paid Media) at Performics.Resultrix, a Publicis Groupe company. Prior to this role I was employed with HCL Technologies as Senior Manger (Digital Marketing). My earlier digital marketing assignments were with ZenithOptimediaIndia (Publicis Groupe) and AdGlobal360. You can follow me on Twitter @anandan22 for all conversations on digital marketing.

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