RI recently published research listing countries with the strongest reputations worldwide.
This list, the result of our annual Country RepTrak® study, compiles the reputation of the 55 largest countries in the world. Fieldwork is carried out among informed consumers in the former G-8 countries (USA, Germany, France, Italy, UK, Canada, Japan and Russia).
2018 results: Trust in countries is in decline – just as it is for corporations.
The general public is losing faith as nations around the world shift focus to inward challenges rather than on a collective global good.
Country Size Does Not Impact Reputation
Here’s what we learned: country size, GDP, and superpower status does not matter.
Contrarily, our research reveals that countries leading in reputation tend to have smaller populations and are admired internationally due to factors beyond economic power. These factors include:
- the strength of their institutions,
- the welfare of their inhabitants,
- and their overall quality of life.
This year, Sweden takes the lead as the country with the strongest reputation, followed by Finland, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, Denmark and the Netherlands.
RI analyzes what we call a country’s rational dimensions to help qualify reputation. Sweden, for example, is 2018’s country with the best perception on the quality of its institutions; New Zealand, on the quality of life; and Japan on level of development.
One of the most considerable conclusions we have reached during our analysis is that a country’s reputation has a substantial impact on supportive behavioral attitudes of international observers (e.g., “I would visit the country,” “I would buy its products,” “I would work or study in the country”). These approaches, subsequently, impact the country’s economy.
The ROI of Country Reputation
An analysis made with 72 countries’ historical records shows that increasing one additional Country RepTrak® Pulse point equates to an average increase of 0.9% in tourist arrivals and an average increase of 0.3% in exports.
2018 Country RepTrak® results demonstrate the importance of being a soft power. Countries with the strongest reputations do not necessarily have the largest economies, or the most powerful armies, but they can influence the global community as a cause of their credibility.
Good reputation not only results in positive economic outcomes, but it also empowers a country to have an international role far beyond the one its objective size would grant: presence within international institutions and the ability to spread and effectuate its government’s views on political, social or economic issues of consequence, and even controversy.
Reputation Results by Country
We live in an environment of geo-political tension, populistic movements and reemergence of nationalism within an atmosphere of skepticism and doubt, a place in which we are not always certain of the veracity of the media — an era of post-truth. This current context impacts the perception of countries.
The quantifiable facts point to an overall average decline on country reputation of 1 Pulse point (potentially due to the aforementioned generalized apprehension).
Other more specific conclusions of the evolution of country reputation data between 2017 and 2018 include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Greece is the country with the largest increase in its reputation (+2.14 Pulse points), by virtue of an increase in its emotional halo, more than any relevant increase in rational variables.
(Reputation Pulse: Overall emotional perception. Reputation Index: weighted average of rational perceptions)
- Venezuela is the country with the most relevant reputational drop in 2018 (-7.27 Pulse points), driven by important decreases in attributes such as “effective government,” “enjoyable country,” “responsible participant in the global community,” or “adopts progressive social and economic policies for the wellbeing of all its citizens.” The dramatic reality of Venezuela’s social, political and economic situation has become more visible to external observers.
- United States’ reputation shows a slight rebound (+1.67 Pulse points) following a steep decrease in 2017 that aligned with a new presidential administration’s initial decisions, but it is still a significant distance from its thriving 2016 score. In the Country RepTrak’s 34th position, the US has an asymmetrical reputation profile: very high scores in variables such as “well-known brands and companies” and “technologically advanced,” yet very low outcomes in variables such as “ethical and transparent country” or “run by an effective government.” Another relevant problem of its reputation is the negative emotional halo: the overall perception of the country is not as positive as the individual evaluation of the rational attributes, which means that there is a negative emotional connection.
- Russia continues its negative trend on reputational scores (-2.14 Pulse points) with relevant decreases in attributes such as “friendly people” and “ethical and transparent country.” The accusations of having influenced electoral processes in other countries through the production of “fake news” have presumably contributed to this gradual drop. Russia holds the 52nd position of the ranking with a score we consider poor (according to the normative scale).
- China breaks its growing reputation trend with a slight decrease. It holds the 45th position in the ranking with a score we consider weak (according to the normative scale).
- Europe’s largest economies have dissimilar reputation evolutions. Germany suffers the largest decline (-3.86 Pulse points), followed by France (-1.73) and Spain (-1.53), while Italy slightly increases its score (+1.25) and UK remains stable after last years’ drop (+0.54). Germany and France’s largest decreases are the result of attributes on the “appealing environment” dimension.
- Spain has not experienced significant differences at the attribute level, which suggests that the Catalan crisis has had a limited impact on the country’s reputation. However, we can say that it has disrupted a substantially positive trend that started in 2014, as a result of the alleviation of the economic crisis.
- UK had a relevant drop of its reputation last year after the Brexit movement, but this year its perceptions are no longer deteriorating externally. Nevertheless, its internal reputation (how UK is perceived by British people) has declined, perhaps because of a better understanding of the implications of abandoning the European Union.
- Latin American countries also suffer a relevant reputation decline (an average of -2.6 Pulse points) driven by the decrease of the perceived quality of their institutions. The combination of political and economic crisis with well-known cases of corruption in governmental institutions has weakened their overall reputation.
Vice President, Global Accounts & Partnerships
Nicolas George Trad
Executive Partner, Co-Founder