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Ranked: The 50 Most Innovative Companies

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Ranked: the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2020

Corporate longevity is on the decline. In the 1960s, a typical S&P 500 company was estimated to last more than 60 years—these days, the average lifespan is just 18 years.

In today’s fast-paced world, companies need to stay relevant in order to survive. Because of this, it’s become increasingly more important for businesses to prioritize innovation.

This chart looks at the top 50 most innovative companies in 2020, based on a survey by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The companies have been ranked based on four variables:

  • Global “Mindshare”: The number of votes from all innovation executives.
  • Industry Peer Review: The number of votes from executives in a company’s industry.
  • Industry Disruption: A diversity index to measure votes across industries.
  • Value Creation: Total share return.

Breakdown of the Leaderboard

BCG has been ranking the most innovative companies since 2005. Here’s a look at the top 50 most innovative companies in 2020:

RankCompanyIndustryHQChange from 2019
1AppleTechnologyU.S.2
2AlphabetTechnologyU.S.-1
3AmazonConsumer GoodsU.S.-1
4MicrosoftTechnologyU.S.-
5SamsungTechnologySouth Korea-
6HuaweiTechnologyChina42
7AlibabaConsumer GoodsChina16
8IBMTechnologyU.S.-1
9SonyConsumer GoodsJapanreturn
10FacebookTechnologyU.S.-2
11TeslaTransportation & EnergyU.S.-2
12Cisco SystemsTechnologyU.S.5
13WalmartConsumer GoodsU.S.29
14TencentOtherChinareturn
15HP Inc.TechnologyU.S.29
16NikeConsumer GoodsU.S.return
17NetflixOtherU.S.-11
18LG ElectronicsConsumer GoodsSouth Korea-
19IntelTechnologyU.S.return
20DellTechnologyU.S.21
21SiemensOtherGermany-5
22TargetConsumer GoodsU.S.return
23PhilipsPharmaceuticals & MedtechNetherlands6
24XiaomiTechnologyChinareturn
25OracleTechnologyU.S.return
26Johnson & JohnsonPharmaceuticals & MedtechU.S.-12
27SAPTechnologyGermany1
28AdidasConsumer GoodsGermany-18
29HitachiTechnologyJapanreturn
30CostcoConsumer GoodsU.S.return
31JD.comConsumer GoodsChinanew
32VolkswagenTransportation & EnergyGermany6
33BoschTransportation & EnergyGermanynew
34AirbusTransportation & EnergyNetherlandsreturn
35SalesforceTechnologyU.S.-2
36JPMorgan ChaseOtherU.S.-16
37UberTechnologyU.S.return
38BayerPharmaceuticals & MedtechGermany-14
39Procter & GambleConsumer GoodsU.S.return
40Royal Dutch ShellTransportation & EnergyNetherlands-10
41ToyotaTransportation & EnergyJapan-4
42NestleConsumer GoodsSwitzerlandreturn
43ABBOtherSwitzerlandnew
443MOtherU.S.-5
45UnileverConsumer GoodsU.K.-13
46FCATransportation & EnergyU.K.new
47NovartisPharmaceuticals & MedtechSwitzerlandnew
48Coca-ColaConsumer GoodsU.S.return
49VolvoTransportation & EnergySwedennew
50McDonald’sConsumer GoodsU.S.-29

When you think about innovative companies, Walmart might not be top of mind. However, the retail giant has moved up to the 13th spot on the list, an increase of 29 places since 2019.

Walmart has put significant efforts into its e-commerce and omnichannel offerings. For instance, the company launched NextDay Delivery in 2020, and now offers one-day delivery to a majority of the U.S. population. The company also has a stake in the Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com, which has grown from 5% to 12%.

Costco makes it to 30th place this year, and the company is known for its effective use of data. Thanks to the company’s members-only model, it has been able to compile a ton of information on its customers. It uses this data not only for marketing purposes, but to help streamline processes like recall notices. Costco also uses data monitoring sensors in its warehouses to save money on water usage and to spot any potential leaks before they happen.

Another company worth touching on is Huawei—the Chinese tech company has taken the 6th spot, a 42 rank increase since 2019. This rise in the ranks is likely due to the company’s significant $19 billion investment in research and development (R&D) in 2019. These types of investments seem to be paying off, as Huawei sold more smartphones in 2019 than Apple.

Innovation Leaders Come in All Sizes

While people may picture startups when they think of innovation and adaptability, big firms aren’t lagging far behind when it comes to innovation output.

In this context, firms with new product sales above their industry median are considered “innovation leaders.” Although 52% of small firms are considered innovation leaders, 43% of large firms still find themselves in the same boat.

Small vs. big firms innovation leaders

In fact, because larger firms generally have more access to resources and manpower than smaller firms, they often have an advantage when it comes to research and development and the creation of innovation-focused programs.

Investing in innovation shows a far greater payoff down the line—firms that invested 1.4x more in innovation input saw 4x the amount of new products sales.

Innovation investment pays off

Innovation as a Lifestyle

Unless you’re in a startup that’s hoping to get acquired by a larger firm, innovation can’t be a one-hit-wonder. Yet, despite its importance, innovation over the long term is hard to maintain.

There have only been 8 companies that have appeared on the list every year. Here’s a look at the companies that have consistently made the cut since 2005:

These companies are serial innovators, and have managed to create innovation systems to perpetually foster creativity and agility. It’s an intentional, laborious process—but when done right, the payoff can be huge.

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Mapped: The 50 Richest Women in the World in 2021

Fewer than 12% of global billionaires are women, but they still hold massive amounts of wealth. Who are the 50 richest women in the world?

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Mapped: The 50 Richest Women in the World in 2021

View the high-resolution of the infographic by clicking here.

According to a recent census by Wealth-X, 11.9% of global billionaires are women. Even at such a minority share, this group still holds massive amounts of wealth.

Using a real-time list of billionaires from Forbes, we examine the net worth of the 50 richest women in the world and which country they’re from.

Where are the World’s Richest Women?

The richest woman in the world, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and family own 33% of stock in L’Oréal S.A., a French personal care brand. She is also the granddaughter of its founder.

In April 2019, L’Oréal and the Bettencourt Meyers family pledged $226 million (€200 million) towards the repair of the Notre Dame cathedral after its devastating fire.

Following closely behind is Alice Walton of the Walmart empire—also the world’s richest family. Together with her brothers, they own over 50% of the company’s shares. That’s a pretty tidy sum, considering Walmart raked in $524 billion in revenues in their 2020 fiscal year.

Other family ties among the richest women in the world include Jacqueline Mars and her four granddaughters, heiresses to a slice of the Mars Inc. fortune in candy and pet food—and all of them make this list.

RankNameNet Worth ($B)Country
#1Francoise Bettencourt Meyers & family$71.4🇫🇷 France
#2Alice Walton$68.0🇺🇸 United States
#3MacKenzie Scott$54.9🇺🇸 United States
#4Julia Koch & family$44.9🇺🇸 United States
#5Yang Huiyan & family$31.4🇨🇳 China
#6Jacqueline Mars$28.9🇺🇸 United States
#7Susanne Klatten$25.8🇩🇪 Germany
#8Zhong Huijuan$23.5🇨🇳 China
#9Laurene Powell Jobs & family$22.1🇺🇸 United States
#10Iris Fontbona & family$21.0🇨🇱 Chile
#11Zhou Qunfei & family$18.6🇭🇰 Hong Kong
#12Fan Hongwei & family$17.9🇨🇳 China
#13Gina Rinehart$17.4🇦🇺 Australia
#14Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken & family$17.1🇳🇱 Netherlands
#15Wu Yajun$16.3🇨🇳 China
#16Abigail Johnson$15.0🇺🇸 United States
#17Kirsten Rausing$13.5🇸🇪 Sweden
#18Kwong Siu-hing$13.0🇭🇰 Hong Kong
#19Lu Zhongfang$12.7🇨🇳 China
#20Wang Laichun$12.7🇨🇳 China
#21Cheng Xue$10.8🇨🇳 China
#22Massimiliana Landini Aleotti & family$10.6🇮🇹 Italy
#23Denise Coates$9.9🇬🇧 United Kingdom
#24Lam Wai Ying$9.1🇭🇰 Hong Kong
#25Ann Walton Kroenke$9.1🇺🇸 United States
#26Savitri Jindal & family$8.7🇮🇳 India
#27Nancy Walton Laurie$8.2🇺🇸 United States
#28Blair Parry-Okeden$8.2🇺🇸 United States
#29Diane Hendricks$8.0🇺🇸 United States
#30Christy Walton$7.8🇺🇸 United States
#31Zhao Yan$7.8🇨🇳 China
#32Zeng Fangqin$7.6🇨🇳 China
#33Magdalena Martullo-Blocher$7.5🇨🇭 Switzerland
#34Rahel Blocher$7.4🇨🇭 Switzerland
#35Marie-Hélène Habert$7.2🇫🇷 France
#36Pamela Mars$7.2🇺🇸 United States
#37Victoria Mars$7.2🇺🇸 United States
#38Valerie Mars$7.2🇺🇸 United States
#39Marijke Mars$7.2🇺🇸 United States
#40Sandra Ortega Mera$7.1🇪🇸 Spain
#41Antonia Ax:son Johnson & family$7.0🇸🇪 Sweden
#42Sofie Kirk Kristiansen$6.9🇩🇰 Denmark
#43Agnete Kirk Thinggaard$6.9🇩🇰 Denmark
#44Li Haiyan$6.7🇨🇳 China
#45Ronda Stryker$6.6🇺🇸 United States
#46Marie Besnier Beauvalot$6.3🇫🇷 France
#47Zheng Shuliang & family$6.2🇨🇳 China
#48Meg Whitman$5.8🇺🇸 United States
#49Chan Laiwa & family$5.8🇨🇳 China
#50Maria Asuncion Aramburuzabala & family$5.8🇲🇽 Mexico

All data as of January 15, 2021 (9AM PST)

MacKenzie Scott, ranked #3 on the list, was heavily involved in the early days of turning Amazon into an e-commerce behemoth. She was involved in areas from bookkeeping and accounts to negotiating the company’s first freight contract. Her high-profile divorce from Jeff Bezos captured the headlines, notably because she gained control over 4% of Amazon’s outstanding shares.

The total value of these shares? An eye-watering $38.3 billion—propelling her to the status of one of America’s richest people.

However, MacKenzie Scott has more altruistic ventures in mind for this wealth. In 2020, she gave away $5.8 billion towards causes such as climate change and racial equality in just four months, and is a signatory on the Giving Pledge.

[Scott’s near $6 billion donation has] to be one of the biggest annual distributions by a living individual.

—Melissa Berman, CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Looking towards the East, Yang Huiyan became the richest woman in Asia after inheriting 70% of shares in the property development company Country Garden Holdings. The company went public in 2007, raising $1.6 billion in its IPO—an amount comparable to Google’s IPO in 2004.

To aid frontline health workers during the pandemic, Country Garden Holdings set up robotic, automated buffet stations to safely serve medical staff in Wuhan, China.

Giving Generously

While the 50 richest women in the world have certainly made progress, the overall tier of billionaires is still very much a boys’ club. One thing that also factors into this could be the way this wealth is spent.

As many female billionaires inherited their wealth, a large share are more inclined to contribute to charitable causes where they can use their money to make an impact. What percentage of billionaires by gender have contributed at least $1 million in donations over the past five years?

Made $1mm in donations over last 5 years (%)

Source of wealth👩 Female philanthropists👨 Male philanthropists
Inherited68%5%
Inherited/Self-made20%28%
Self-made12%67%

Source: Wealth-X

Meanwhile, male billionaires are more likely to donate to charity if they built the wealth themselves—and many companies that fall into this category certainly stepped up during the early days of the COVID-19 crisis.

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The Top 50 Most Valuable Global Brands

This graphic showcases 2020’s top 50 most valuable global brands and explores how COVID-19 has triggered a brand shift with huge implications.

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Visualizing the Top 50 Most Valuable Global Brands

For many brands, it has been a devastating year to say the least.

Over half of the most valuable global brands have experienced a decline in brand value, a measure that takes financial projections, brand roles in purchase decisions, and strengths against competitors into consideration. But where some have faltered, others have asserted their dominance and stepped up for their customers like never before.

The visualization above showcases the top 50 most valuable global brands from a study conducted by Interbrand, which calculates brand value across hundreds of companies.

As consumers move cautiously into 2021, which brands have they chosen to keep by their side?

The Heavy Hitters

With an eye-watering brand value of $323 billion, Apple is the most valuable global brand in the world, followed closely by Amazon in second place, and Microsoft in third. Average growth in brand value across all three of these tech brands in 2020 was roughly 50%.

In particular, Microsoft—who overtook Google in this year’s ranking—has increased its brand value by $100 billion in just one decade. The tech giant has reinvented itself over the years by focusing not just on how its products impact consumers’ lives, but instead on how they impact the planet. The company is promising to become carbon negative by 2030.

However, other brands that sit at the top of the global brands list have not had the same recent success. Coca-Cola for example sits in sixth place, but has seen a decline in brand value of over $13 billion since 2010.

Here is the full list of the most valuable global brands in 2020:

RankBrandBrand ValueYoY % ChangeIndustry
#1Apple$323B38%Technology
#2Amazon$201B60%Technology
#3Microsoft$166B53%Technology
#4Google$165B-1%Technology
#5Samsung$62B2%Technology
#6Coca-Cola$57B-10%Food & Beverage
#7Toyota$52B-8%Automotive
#8Mercedes$49B-3%Automotive
#9McDonald’s$43B-6%Restaurants
#10Disney$41B-8%Entertainment
#11BMW$40B-4%Automotive
#12Intel$40B-8%Technology
#13Facebook$35B-12%Technology
#14IBM$35B-14%Technology
#15Nike$34B6%Apparel
#16Cisco$34B-4%Technology
#17Louis Vuitton$32B-2%Luxury
#18SAP$28B12%Technology
#19Instagram$26BNewTechnology
#20Honda$22B-11%Automotive
#21Chanel$21B-4%Luxury
#22J.P. Morgan$20B6%Financial Services
#23American Express$19B-10%Financial Services
#24UPS$19B6%Logistics
#25Ikea$19B3%Retail
#26Pepsi$19B-9%Food & Beverage
#27Adobe$18B41%Technology
#28Hermès$18B0%Luxury
#29General Electric$18B-30%Industrial Machinery
#30YouTube$17BNewTechnology
#31Accenture$17B2%Business Services
#32Gucci$16B-2%Luxury
#33Budweiser$16B-3%Food & Beverage
#34Pampers$15B-4%Consumer Packaged Goods
#35Zara$15B-13%Apparel
#36Hyundai$14B1%Automotive
#37H&M$14B-14%Apparel
#38Nescafé$14B2%Food & Beverage
#39Allianz$13B7%Financial Services
#40Tesla$13BNewAutomotive
#41Netflix$13B41%Technology
#42Ford$13B-12%Automotive
#43L'Oreal$13B8%Consumer Packaged Goods
#44Audi$12B-2%Automotive
#45Visa$12B15%Financial Services
#46Ebay$12B2%Technology
#47Volkswagen$12B-5%Automotive
#48AXA$12B3%Financial Services
#49Goldman Sachs$12B7%Financial Services
#50Adidas$12B1%Apparel
#51Sony $12B14%Technology
#52Citi $12B-6%Financial Services
#53Philips $12B0%Consumer Packaged Goods
#54Gillette$12B-16%Consumer Packaged Goods
#55Porsche $11B-3%Automotive
#56Starbucks $11B-5%Food & Beverage
#57Mastercard $11B-17%Financial Services
#58Salesforce$11B34%Technology
#59Nissan $11B-8%Automotive
#60PayPal $11B38%Financial Services
#61Siemens$11B2%Technology
#62Danone $10B4%Food & Beverage
#63Nestlé$10B8%Food & Beverage
#64HSBC$10B-14%Financial Services
#65Hewlett Packard$10B-11%Technology
#66Kellogg's$10B-8%Food & Beverage
#673M$9B4%Technology
#68Colgate $9B6%Consumer Packaged Goods
#69Morgan Stanely $9B8%Financial Services
#70Spotify$8B52%Technology
#71Canon $8B-15%Technology
#72Lego$8B9%Consumer Packaged Goods
#73Cartier $7B-9%Luxury
#74Santander $7B-12%Financial Services
#75FedEx$7B5%Logistics
#76Nintendo $7B31%Technology
#77Hewlett Packard Enterprise $7B-16%Technology
#78Corona $7B3%Food & Beverage
#79Ferrari$6B-1%Automotive
#80Huawei$6B-9%Technology
#81DHL$6B5%Logistics
#82Jack Daniel's$6B-1%Food & Beverage
#83Dior$6B-1%Luxury
#84Caterpillar $6B-14%Industrial Machinery
#85Panasonic $6B-6%Consumer Packaged Goods
#86Kia $6B-9%Automotive
#87Johnson & Johnson $6B1%Consumer Packaged Goods
#88Heineken $6B-2%Food & Beverage
#89John Deere $5B-9%Industrial Machinery
#90LinkedIn $5B8%Technology
#91Hennessy$5B-3%Food & Beverage
#92KFC$5B-7%Food & Beverage
#93Land Rover $5B-13%Automotive
#94Tiffany & Co. $5B-7%Luxury
#95Mini $5B-10%Automotive
#96Uber $5B-13%Technology
#97Burberry $5B-8%Luxury
#98Johnnie Walker $5BNew Food & Beverage
#99Prada $4B-6%Luxury
#100Zoom $4BNew Technology

It is clear that brands that went above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic not only benefit from more meaningful connections with their customers; it also pays financially—with brand value for all 100 companies included in the study totaling $2 trillion.

Movers and Shakers

When it comes to 2020’s fastest risers, Amazon, Microsoft, Spotify, and Netflix lead the way.

Not too far behind these brands is PayPal, which saw 38% growth in the last year due to some major strategic pivots. More recently, the brand announced it would be redirecting capital from shareholders and investing in low-level employees who have been essential during the pandemic.

Other brands making their mark in 2020 are Instagram, Tesla, and YouTube—all of which are new to the ranking and are experiencing significant growth in brand value. In fact, electric vehicle company Tesla experienced a 769% increase in market capitalization in just twelve months, making it the world’s most valuable automaker.

The Great Brand Shift

As pharmaceutical companies begin distributing vaccines across the globe, consumer optimism is starting to build again. However, the future of brands remains uncertain.

Only 41 out of 100 most valuable global brands remain in the ranking today from the study conducted in 2000. With almost 60 hugely influential brands falling out of favor in the last two decades, there are several ways in which today’s brands can build economic resilience and thrive in an anxious world:

  1. Leadership: The degree to which a brand has a clear purpose that is executed seamlessly across the entire organization.
  2. Engagement: Creating meaningful and collaborative relationships with consumers based on the brand’s unique story and reason for being.
  3. Relevance: Being omnipresent for customers and delivering on their expectations by going beyond selling products or services.

Although the impacts of 2020 will be felt for years to come, brands that stay ahead of consumers’ changing expectations will be in a better position to weather the storm.

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