A Clean Bill of Health

UnitedHealthcare, the American health insurer, strengthened its position as the world’s most valuable healthcare brand, following 39% brand value growth to US$18.6 billion, according to the latest report by Brand Finance, the world’s leading brand valuation and strategy consultancy.

Anthem (brand value down 5% to US$10.1 billion) and Aetna (up 9% to US$9.4 billion) defended second and third place respectively, ahead of the rapidly-growing Humana (up 25% to US$9.0 billion) and Optum (up 41% to US$8.4 billion), which both overtook Medtronic (down 8% to US$7.9 billion).

UnitedHealthcare and Optum are owned by the same corporation, UnitedHealth Group, which is driving significant revenue growth for both their insurance brand (UnitedHealthcare) and the service provider (Optum). UnitedHealthcare is moving to a value-based care reimbursement model which is tied more closely to health outcomes, rather than a traditional model of paying for services rendered.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“UnitedHealth Group is building a very valuable pair of brands operating on the front line of healthcare. Whilst focused on the US markets, the group operates globally with UnitedHealthcare brand supplying solid healthcare coverage, and the Optum brand providing a number of technology-driven health services. These distinct but complementary brands are growing rapidly in a politically-contentious and emotionally-charged sector.”

21 out of the 25 brands in the Brand Finance Healthcare 25 ranking come from the United States, which does not come as a surprise given the level of deregulation of the American market compared to the European model built on universal healthcare.

Health Net is fastest-growing brand
Health Net is the fastest-growing healthcare brand this year, up 45% to US$2.7 billion. Its acquisition by Centene Corporation in 2016 opened up a wider customer base which has likely benefited its brand value. Health Net’s parent company, Centene Corporation, also fared well this year, increasing its brand value 40% to US$3.7 billion and breaking into the top 10.

Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare experienced the biggest drop in brand value, down 10% to US$2.8 billion. The brand’s rising debt levels, coupled with a tarnished public image after unnecessary heart surgeries by two doctors at a Tenet run hospital in California and high legal fees for a billing scandal involving patient referrals, were some of the causes that contributed to its decline.

Essilor is strongest healthcare brand
Aside from measuring the overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, customer perceptions, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. Along with the level of revenues, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value.

According to these criteria, French brand Essilor, the world’s number one manufacturer of lenses and contact lenses, remains the world’s strongest healthcare brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 74.8 out of 100 and a corresponding brand rating of AA+. Essilor invested heavily in building its brand awareness, through a series of high-profile advertising campaigns, and also broadened its service distribution channels through tactical acquisitions.

Two significant purchases, MyOptique and Vision Direct, helped Essilor to grow its online retail presence. In particular, the acquisition of MyOptique expanded Essilor’s digital footprint to Central Europe and improved its capabilities across a variety of product categories. Furthermore, Essilor’s new partnership with Photosynthesis Group, a Hong Kong-based brand that markets sunglasses and corrective lenses, will help Essilor grow in the Chinese optical sector.

Essilor is also currently on track to merge with Italy’s Luxottica, the world’s biggest eyeglass frame maker and owner of the Ray-Ban and Oakley brands and retail chain Sunglass Hut. The merger will provide significant synergies and innovation opportunities for both brands.

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