Indonesia Expat
Business Profile Meet the Expats

The Business of Branding: Millward Brown

Mark Chamberlain is Managing Director of Millward Brown Indonesia, the global research agency behind this year’s inaugural BrandZ™ Top 50 Most Valuable Indonesian Brands. He talks to us about the brands Indonesians love, and Indonesia’s rising global profile.

First, what does Millward Brown Indonesia do, in a nutshell?

Simplistically I like to talk about “guiding and growing great brands for Indonesia”. Our purpose as an organisation is to help our clients grow their brands and businesses. We do this through research and consultancy that relates to brand strategy, brand measurement, creative development and channel optimisation.

BrandZ is Millward Brown’s annual study of brand value, combining consumer research with financial data, which is now in its tenth year globally and with separate rankings for China and India. Why Indonesia, and why now?

BrandZ is the most robust brand valuation technique globally as it is underpinned by a very strong understanding of the people who really count: consumers buying brands. In Indonesia we covered 14,000 consumers and 350 brands across 28 categories. Indonesia is only the fourth market where WPP has invested in a local ranking, which shows its importance and emergence in the global marketplace.

In your results launch in late August, BCA Bank came first with a brand value of US$9.9bn. What do you hope Indonesian brands will learn from the results of the study?

Six years ago when Millward Brown and WPP launched the China Top 50 there was only one Chinese brand in the Global Top 100 – today there are 14. BCA was very close to getting into the Global Top 100 this year. My hope is that we will see two or three Indonesian brands break into the Global Top 100 within the next five years. In order to do that Indonesian brands will need to build brand love with consumers, and become more innovative with their offers and in their communication. On average the Top 50 Indonesian brands underperform significantly in these two areas versus Top 50 counterparts in other markets.

In layman’s terms, what are some of the methods you used to gather the opinions of the 14,000 Indonesian consumers surveyed?

I’ll try to explain this without revealing the geek in me! We did 28 separate category surveys with consumers of those categories across a few major cities in Indonesia. Depending on the nature of the category, some surveys were done online, some on mobile and some face-to-face. This data was merged with publicly-available financial reports. BrandZ is the largest equity database in the world, so we’ve created proprietary frameworks linking our data to commercial outputs like share prices. We’ve produced models to try and make it all sexy but easy to understand. Does that pass the geek test?

What is important to Indonesian consumers today?

There are some real tensions facing Indonesian consumers today that have a unique Indonesian twist if you probe deep enough. For example, 65 percent of Indonesian consumers say they want cultural experiences that will broaden their horizons, but 73 percent worry the values and traditions they most appreciate are being eroded by global influences.

Probe deep enough and you can uncover how Indonesians are renegotiating nationalism practices to cope with this tension. There are many other societal tensions. The best brands understand these tensions and work out where they can offer a credible point of view and how they can play a role in championing societal benefits.

Tobacco brands represent US$14.8bn, or 23 percent of the Top 50 brands’ overall value – the second highest sector after Financial Services. Why are certain sectors strong here?

The brands heavily present in the Indonesia Top 50 provide a pretty accurate representation of life here. Banks, tobacco, telco, trusted household brands and real estate developers dominate the Top 50 – and in the one hour I spend getting to work every day these categories are all very visible! It’s also interesting to note the categories that are not in the Indonesia Top 50. Take technology: this accounts for nearly half the value of the Global Top 100. In China brands like Tencent and Alibaba have been all-conquering. Tech is not represented in the Indonesia Top 50 yet, but I think the sector here is on the verge of big things over the next five years.

What proportion of brands in the Top 50 are Indonesian-created and owned? How does this compare to other emerging economies?

There are two criteria for inclusion in the ranking. First the brand must be publicly listed, and secondly it has to be either owned by an Indonesian enterprise, or an Indonesian-created brand owned by a multi-national. So most brands are local. The two main exceptions are the Unilever portfolio and Aqua. Interestingly Unilever have done such a good job localising their brands that many consumers think their international brands like Ponds, Sunsilk and Rinso are Indonesian. Aqua is synonomous with Indonesia and is owned by Danone, listed in France. The remaining 40 brands are Indonesian-owned, six of which are state-owned.

Which Indonesian-grown brands have the best chance of success abroad in the future and why?

Millward Brown’s brand equity framework includes a measure called Potential which indicates the probability of market share growth locally. Predicting success abroad is more difficult due to the increasing number of variables. To be successful abroad, Indonesian brands will have to do what successful multi-national brands have done in Indonesia. They will need to understand the consumer and brand landscape in the markets they want to expand into and find ways to adapt and tweak their propositions so they are meaningful to consumers in those markets.

Clearly the current Top 3 Indonesian brands have the scale to break into the Global Top 100 – BCA, BRI, Telkomsel. A brand like Indomie (#14 in Indonesia) is already sold in many countries and is hugely popular in some African countries. Mayora is another Indonesian business with ambitious regional and global expansion plans. Finally I would also bet on an Indonesian tech brand doing a smaller scale ‘Alibaba’ and floating for a large sum in the next five years.

Tell us about your journey with Millward Brown to your position today as Managing Director Indonesia.

I joined Millward Brown as a University graduate and fell in love with understanding brand building and communications effectiveness through a consumer lens. Millward Brown has been fantastic at giving me a variety of opportunities, including a secondment with GlaxoSmithKline and sponsoring me through a programme called The Marketing Academy in the UK. Having done regional and global client roles, the opportunity to run the business in Indonesia came up. I was actually born in Kediri, East Java and lived in Surabaya for ten years as a child. So, I didn’t need much convincing to be part of the Indonesia story. Times may be a little tough at the moment but these are pivotal years that will shape Indonesia’s contribution to the global economy over the next 15-20 years.

What are Millward Brown Indonesia’s plans for the future?

One of my favourite sayings is that “standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards”. We’ve done a lot to re-orientate the business around our purpose to “guide and grow great brands for Indonesia”. Success in the future requires us to develop our consulting offer, scale our digital and automated research solutions, invest in talent and build on the fantastic brand-building thought leadership that we’ve developed through BrandZ. BrandZ will be back annually for the next few years.


Thank you, Mark. To find out more, visit:, or email [email protected]

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