‘Scotland’s reputation’ is one of Scotland’s 81 National Performance Framework Indicators. National Indicators enable Scotland to track progress towards the achievement of National Outcomes. The purpose is “to focus on creating a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increased wellbeing and sustainable and inclusive economic growth”.
Since 2008, the Scottish Government has used the Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands IndexSM (NBISM) to assess and monitor how Scotland is perceived around the world. The NBISMexamines the image of 50 countries by looking at a country’s reputation along six dimensions of national competence: Exports, Governance, Culture, People, Tourism, Immigration and Investment. Together these provide an overall indication of a country’s reputation.
The data provide snapshots in time. Over a number of years, these snapshots can track Scotland’s reputation in the longer-term. Data can also be used to compare Scotland’s reputation with that of other countries, and to monitor how Scotland sees itself. However, data cannot be used to evaluate performance of specific Scottish Government directorates, agencies or policies.
Scotland’s overall 2018 score of 62.7 and rank of 16th in the NBISM show that Scotland continues to have a strong reputation abroad. This is the highest score Scotland has received since the baseline study in 2008. Whilst Scotland’s absolute score has stayed fairly stable, going from 62.2 in 2016 to 62.7 in 2018, Scotland’s relative rank has dropped by one place since 2016 (from 15th in 2016 to 16th in 2018).This is because rank may change in relation to other countries’ performance while the absolute score will not.
Generally, perceptions of Scotland were highest amongst Commonwealth and English speaking countries with the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States ranking Scotland 6th, 10th and 11th respectively. Between 2016 and 2018, Scotland’s reputation improved the most in Canada, Argentina and France.
Scotland has a strong and balanced image, and is rated as a Top 20 country on five of the six dimensions of reputation. Scotland’s strongest dimensions in 2018 were Tourism and Governance, which ranked Scotland 12th and 14th in the world, respectively. Scotland’s weakest dimension was Exports (23rd). This is Scotland’s only dimension to rank outside of the Top 20. Out of the six dimensions, People was Scotland’s most improved dimension since 2016, increasing from 65.0 to 66.1 in 2018.
Within the dimensions, Scotland fares very well in the rating of individual attributes. Natural beauty continues to be perceived as Scotland’s strongest characteristic, ranking 7th out of the 50 nations, it ranked 11th in relation to how welcoming the people of Scotland are, and 12th for how it protects the environment, its rich cultural heritage and its rich historic buildings and monuments.
At the start of the NBISM survey, respondents are asked to rate how familiar and how favourable they are towards each country. Familiarity with Scotland has decreased from 63 per cent of respondents having some knowledge of Scotland in 2016 to 61 per cent in 2018. The most noticeable decrease in levels of familiarity was seen from respondents in South Korea, Brazil and Poland. Whilst favourability towards Scotland maintained between 2016 and 2018, all 20 core panel countries gave Scotland a favourability score of more than 4.0 (on a 7.0 point scale) in 2018, suggesting that Scotland is viewed comparatively positively by all panel countries.
In the 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 NBISM studies, Scotland was included as an additional core panel country and as one of the 50 rated countries, and thus Scotland rated itself in each of these years. Scotland scored and ranked itself higher in 2018 than it did in 2016. In 2016, Scotland ranked itself 3rd behind Canada and the United Kingdom and gave itself a score of 67.8, while in 2018 Scotland ranked itself 1st and gave itself a score of 72.7. Furthermore, favourability in how Scotland perceived itself increased from 5.5 (on a 7.0 point scale) in 2016 to 5.9 in 2018 resulting in Scotland ranking itself 1st.
Overall, individuals in the 45 years and over and 30 to 44 years age group tended to have a more positive image of Scotland than individuals in the 18 to 29 year age group, with those aged 45 years and over having the most positive image of Scotland across five out of the six dimensions. The more exposure people have had to Scotland (through visits or contact with websites) the more likely they were to be favourable towards Scotland, and to score Scotland higher on all the dimensions. Business/executives scored Scotland higher than those in other occupations. In nearly every one of Scotland’s dimensions and their underlying attributes across the survey, similar patterns are seen for these demographic groups.
While Scotland’s score has increased between 2016 and 2018, the change of 0.5 is below the 1.0 point threshold for Scotland’s National Indicator ‘Scotland’s Reputation’, indicating that Scotland’s reputation is ‘maintaining’ internationally.
Email: Hannah Rutherford