Germany is the world’s top country, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, according to a new rankings project that involved Wharton.
The , a collaborative project involving the Wharton School, BAV Consulting and U.S. News & World Report, allows users to view rankings of countries in various categories and read corresponding analyses, offering interactive graphics as well as videos.
Only 60 countries were eligible for this year’s Best Countries rankings — the ones that were ranked highly in GDP, international tourist arrivals, foreign direct investment inflows and human development. Those 60 countries were then ranked using the results of a worldwide survey that evaluated the global perceptions of particular nations.
16,200 respondents from 36 different countries all over the world participated, rating nations on 75 different attributes. This study was the largest ever to investigate the concept of nation branding: the idea that how the world perceives a particular nation may impact its foreign direct investment, exports and tourism, and therefore, economy.
David Reibstein, a marketing professor at Penn who has been at the forefront of nation branding research for many years, led Wharton in its involvement with the enterprise. Reibstein and his team were involved in duties including the design of the research, collection and analysis of data and outward communication.
The aim of this project was to provide data that citizens and governments could use to see how they could influence the world’s perceptions about their countries.
A country can influence its nation brand in several ways, including through the reputations of its corporations, the way its diplomats present the country and student exchange programs.
“I’m hoping that nations will look at [this study] and ask, ‘How am I currently perceived and what do I need to improve on?,’” Reibstein said. “As is the case for all brands, you can improve what you actually have to offer, but you also can improve perceptions of what you have to offer.”
Respondents to the survey included informed elites, business decision makers and the general public, so that Reibstein’s team could compare and contrast the perceptions of different categories of people. Depending on the attribute that they were looking at, the team also broke down the data to compare the results of different genders, different age groups and other categories.
The 75 attributes evaluated for each country were based off of a set of characteristics that BAV Consulting uses to assess company brands. However, because Best Countries was evaluating nation branding, Reibstein and his team changed some of the listed features “to be more representative of a country than just products.”
“Basically, the website itself is the creation of US News; the survey was really BAV and Wharton with input from us,” US News Executive Editor Tim Smart said. “It was truly a three-way collaboration. We all checked each other’s work well.”
Reibstein also collaborated with Tom Lincoln, co-founder of a web and graphic design firm named TNT Content and Design, on the project. Lincoln said that he “has been extremely excited to work with professor Reibstein, U.S. News and WPP’s BAV consulting on the Best Countries project.”
Reflecting upon the final product, Reibstein mentioned that there were a few additions he was interested in making in the future, like analyzing the importance of city brands as well and investigating the impact a single, isolated event could have on a nation’s brand.
Though Best Countries has only just launched, Wharton, BAV Consulting and U.S. News have high hopes for the project’s future. “We will expand and include some more data points,” Smart said. “This particular inaugural version has 60 countries — we may add more countries to the list.”
They plan to annually conduct the survey and publish new rankings and in fact have already begun to discuss the 2017 Best Countries project. “Our intent is to do this study again this coming year, and the year after that, and hopefully into perpetuity,” Reibstein said. “We’re starting to work on next year’s now.”
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.