Global intangible assets have grown by approximately 11% per year in the past 25 years, with the latest GIFT™ report from Brand Finance revealing that global intangible assets are now worth more than $74 trillion.
The report, which examines the growth of intangible assets for companies across the globe, explains that intangible assets can be grouped into three categories: rights, relationships and intellectual property. It also indicates that intangible assets have grown at an above-average rate during the pandemic, increasing by 23% over the $61 trillion in 2019.
For the most part, Banking was the sector with the highest intangible asset value, globally, between 2002 and 2016. However, since 2017, the Internet & Software sector has taken over the top spot. This year its total intangible value is $13.1 trillion. The Tech (hardware brands) industry follows Internet & Software at $9.7 trillion. Spurred on by the pandemic, Pharma has the third-largest intangible asset value this year at $6.2 trillion.
While those three industries have the highest intangible asset values, it’s the Cosmetics & Personal Care sector that is considered the most intangible industry, with 89% of its total value being intangible. Aerospace & Defence, Internet & Software, Healthcare and Pharma follow closely.
Per the report, Internet & Software and Tech are also the industries with the highest total intangible value in the US. These industries account for about 30% of the total intangible value of companies in the US. Furthermore, with US companies’ intangible assets accounting for more than three-quarters of the total assets in the country, the US is also considered the most intangible country in the world.
Top Intangible Companies
With a total estimated intangible value of $1.9 trillion, Microsoft moves up four spots to become the most intangible company in the world this year. The company’s intangible value grew by $306.8 billion over 2020.
Apple, on the other hand, saw its total intangible value decrease this year ($2.15 trillion in 2020 down to $1.87 trillion in 2021). The Technology and IT brand, which tops the list of most “intimate” brands in the US, slipped down one position to #2.
Apple is followed by Saudi Aramco — holding steady at #3, with a total estimated intangible value of $1.64 trillion. Amazon (#4, $1.47 trillion) and Alphabet (#5, $1.31 trillion) round out the top 5.
Some other companies of note include JP Morgan Chase & Co (#31) which leapt forward 53 spots, while Salesforce (#49) and SAP (#62) dropped 20 and 21 spots, respectively.
The full report can be found here.