Japan among the world's best countries according to brand consultancy survey

22 March 2018 Consultancy.asia 4 min. read

Japan has been named the fifth best country in the world according to global perceptions on a range of criteria set out by Young & Rubicam’s brand consultancy BAV Consulting.

In conjunction with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the U.S. News & World Report – a US media agency noted for consumer advice and rankings – the brand strategy arm of global communications and marketing giant Young & Rubicam, BAV Consulting, set out to determine the best countries in the world – by way of an aggregate set of perceived attributes including ‘friendly, fun and sexy.’

While the majority of Asian states fared relatively poorly on the resulting list of 80 best countries (representing 90% of global GDP and 80% of the world’s population) – with European and Anglosphere nations combining to claim 17 of the top 20 slots – Japan shrugged off the general perception of economic stagnation and its aging population to come in at fifth overall, behind only excitement hotspots the UK, Germany, Canada and, drumroll, Switzerland at number one.

Yet, while the assessment model was designed by BAV and Wharton, the final results were based on the perceptions of the over 21,000 respondents surveyed across 36 countries – with the college educated and business decision-makers being the targeted demographic – and a weighting given to the criteria sub-categories in accordance with their prevalence as an indicator of inclusive prosperity. The rankings are thus of some economic significance in branding terms when considering these factors.Japan among the world's best countries according to brand consultancy studyDavid Reibstein, a professor of marketing at Wharton, said; “The Best Countries ranking is not merely a beauty contest and for bragging rights when ambassadors get together. A positive country brand brings money and economic growth to it. A country's brand, however, is not just about attracting visitors. A good brand also attracts direct foreign investment. When deciding whether to invest in a country's bonds, real estate, or even currency, or to build a factory or open an office, several factors of a country's brand matter – including how transparent the country is, how easy it is to do business there, and how much the country's economy is growing.”

As such, the ‘Adventure’ sub-ranking – friendly, fun, pleasant climate, scenic, sexy – as one of nine categories accounted for just 3.7% of the overall score (for the record, Japan earned a score of only 0.2 out of 10 on the sexy scale), while the more economically-focused factors ‘Entrepreneurship’ (educated, innovative and entrepreneurial etc.), ‘Power’ (economically and politically influential), and ‘Movers’ (different, distinctive, dynamic) together combined for over 35% of the ultimate tally.

Japan was 2nd overall for Entrepreneurship, 7th in Power, and ranked fifth in the world as a ‘Mover’ – a category which was adapted from BAV Consulting’s BrandAsset Valuator of Brand Building, a metric developed by the firm which is ‘predictive of a country's future growth in terms of gross domestic product purchasing power parity per capita (PPP).’ Here, Asia performed exceptionally well in the country rankings with Japan, Singapore, China and Thailand all finishing along with India in the top six – indicative of the oncoming changing of the global economic guard.

Economic Impact

Yet, overall, the next closest nations to Japan were Singapore and China at 16th and 20th, while economic up-and-comers Indonesia and Vietnam remain in the bottom half of the list. “For the countries that rose to the top of this year's rankings, it is once again clear that military vigor and economic power are no longer the key determinants to a country's brand success,” said Y&R Global CEO David Sable. “Nations that are multidimensional and that reflect a wider range of qualities, such as innovation and compassion, have the brand appeal that propels them on the global stage."

Reibstein concludes; “For a country to understand how its nation brand is viewed globally, surveying perceptions by participants in the global economy is a first step and an opportunity for nations to more actively manage their image. The point of this work is to emphasise the economic importance of how others view our countries. It is an issue beyond national pride. A nation's brand affects its economy. It matters what others think about us. Our actions, visible on a global scale, have economic consequences far beyond the direct cost of those actions.”