Italy Country Performance, Nation Brand Image and Reputation

Italy: how does one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations perform in global rankings that measure soft power, talent attraction potential and environmental sustainability? How does Italy’s political and economic instability affect its ranking in studies that measure economic competitiveness and public diplomacy? Let’s explore how Italy positions itself on the world stage, drawing insights from data provided by TPBO partners and other reputable institutions.

Let’s take a closer look at:

  • Italy’s soft power and brand strength
  • Its appeal to skilled labor, investors and visitors
  • The country’s global contribution to peace and wellbeing
  • How well it fares in terms of happiness and sustainability

Italy’s soft power and brand strength

How does Italy compare in terms of reputation and brand value globally? 

In the Global Soft Power Index 2023 by Brand Finance, Italy secures the 9th spot, slightly trailing Canada (7th) and Switzerland (8th). Impressively, Italy’s score has shown growth, rising from 54.7 in 2022 to 56.6 this year, this coincides with the country’s ranking rising by one position. Italy’s global success stems from its esteemed reputation, influence, and widespread recognition. Its cultural heritage ranks third globally, trailing only Greece and Egypt.

In tourism, Italy stands among the top four countries, surpassed only by the Maldives, Switzerland, and France. The nation excels in business and trade efficiency, with popular products and brands rivalling only the USA and Japan. However, Italy faces challenges in ease of doing business due to a weak and unstable economy with limited growth potential. The perceived weaknesses in governance, education & science, and sustainability offer opportunities for improvement.

In the U.S. News Best Countries 2023 ranking, Italy secures the 15th  position,  behind Denmark (13th) and Finland (14th). Notably, Italy excels in three key areas: heritage (1st) assessing cultural accessibility, richness of history, food quality and geographic/cultural attractions, cultural influence (1st) which analyses trendiness, modernity, and strength of consumer brands; and adventure (2nd) which examines the level of  friendliness, good for tourism, scenic beauty, pleasant climate, and overall sexiness . However, Italy dropped one position from 2022, with lowest scores in entrepreneurship and open for business factors. 

The Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brand Index (NBI) calculates its ranking based on averaging the scores of six different factors: exports, governance, tourism, culture, people and immigration, and tourism. According to the NBI 2023 ranking  Italy secures the 5th position, placing a spot below from the 2022 ranking. 

Talent and competitiveness in Italy

What is the perception of corruption in Italy and how competitive is the country in terms of attracting and retaining talent?

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2019 edition placed Italy at the 30th position among 141 countries. However, it’s important to note that an updated version of this report hasn’t been released in the past 5 years, and rankings may have shifted since then.

Italy, classified as a high-income country within the European regional group, currently holds the 32nd position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023. Notably, Italy performs most remarkably in the Grow pillar where it holds the 24th position and its main challenge is the Attract pillar where it ranked 40th.

Italy’s appeal to digital nomads, business, trade and travel 

What is the global perception of Italy as a destination for living, conducting business, and tourism?

The Expat Insider 2023 ranks Italy in 47th  position out of 53 countries,  below New Zealand (45th) and Malta (46th). However, Italy ranks 17th in the Leisure Options metric and 27th in the Culture and Welcome metric.

As per the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2023, Italy secures the 18th position for FDI inflows in 2022, trailing behind the UAE (16th) and Indonesia (17th). This marks a remarkable increase to its 2021 ranking where the country held the 183rd position with negative inflows. This success can be attributed to the increased investment in greenfield projects and international project finance deals doubling this past year.

The Bloom Consulting biannual Country Brand Ranking Trade Edition 2022-2023 assesses investment-related variables, emphasizing perceptions of a country’s trade-specific brand and evaluating branding performance. Regionally, Italy placed 7th behind Ireland (6th) and above Spain (8th), an increase of one position. Globally, Italy secures the 14th position, a jump of three positions since the previous report. This success can be attributed to slight increases in both Net FDI and social media performance. 

In addition, the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking Tourism Edition 2022-2023 places Italy at the 2nd global position, jumping five positions from the previous ranking, sitting behind the global and regional leader Spain. Despite the major impact of Covid-19 on Italy, it experienced continuous growth in D2 – Digital Demand ©. Combined with improvements to its social media performance, this combination compensated for a minor drop in tourism receipts and online performance.

In the IMD 2023 World Competitiveness Ranking, Italy secured the 41st position, showing a consistency with previous rankings. Currently, it sits just behind Portugal (39th) and India (40th) while surpassing Slovenia (42nd) and Poland (43nd).

In terms of specific characteristics, Italy’s economic performance dropped  three positions to the 44th spot in 2023. It holds the 56th position for government efficiency, experiencing a drop of two positions compared to 2022. Lastly, Italy drops four positions to the 38th position for business efficiency, and holds the 30th spot for infrastructure, jumping one position since 2022.

According to the European Innovation Scoreboard 2023, Italy belongs to the third group, Moderate Innovators, whereas Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden are Innovation Leaders in the region. Italy’s performance has increased by 15.6 points during the period between 2016 and 2023, although in the 2022-2023 period, the country has experienced a 5.6 point decrease. Its strengths are: Resource productivity, Design applications, Public-private co-publications, Most cited publications and Business process innovators. Its weaknesses are: Population with tertiary education, Job-to-job mobility of HRST, Venture capital expenditures and R&D expenditure in the business sector.

Peace and happiness

Is Italy a happy and safe place to invest time and money in?

The Global Peace Index 2023 ranks Italy 34th, remaining consistent from last years’ index. Italy sits behind Spain (32nd), and Taiwan (33rd). Italy falls under the high sector of the ‘State of Peace’ spectrum as defined by the Institute for Economics & Peace. Italy positioned 24th regionally amongst its fellow European countries, led by Iceland  and Denmark.

The Institute for Economics & Peace similarly ranks Italy within the medium impact zone in terms of ‘Impact of Terrorism’ in the 2022 Global Terrorism Index. Italy ranks 53rd, sitting in between Lebanon (52nd) and Canada (54th). Meanwhile, the World Happiness Report 2023 which displays the Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year-average 2020–2022 ranks Italy 33rd.

Environmental sustainability in Italy

How does Italy perform in reports measuring environmental sustainability? 

The 2022 edition of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks Italy 23rd, sitting between Cyprus (22nd) and Ireland (25th). The EPI analyzes the performance of 180 countries, scoring and ranking these countries on their environmental performance using the most recent year of data available as well as providing calculable changes in scores over the previous decade. Italy has experienced a change in score of positive 6.

Italy’s “good country” credentials

What is Italy’s contribution to global well-being?

In the Caf World Giving Index 2023, Italy secured the 87th position. The country’s top performance is in the Helping a Stranger factor where 53% of its adult population helped a stranger in the past year. This is a massive jump for Italy as in last year’s ranking it placed 109th. 

In the Good Country Index, Italy currently holds the 24th position overall, with notable subfactors as follows: Science & Technology (37th), Culture (25th), International Peace & Security (64th), World Order (40th), Planet & Climate (56th), Prosperity & Equality (16th), and Health & Wellbeing (21st). It’s worth mentioning that in 2022, Italy was also ranked 24th, and in 2021, it held the 19th position. While the country has experienced a five point drop since the 2021 ranking, there has been a significant increase in the Science & Technology factor, as well as, the Prosperity & Equality factor. 

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023, Italy ranked in the blue zone (7-8 range) with a 7.69 out of 10. This is higher than Belgium who scored a 7.64 but lower than France who scored 8.07.

The 2022 Corruption Perception Index ranks Italy 41st with a score of 56/100, tying with Czechia, Georgia and Slovenia. Italy’s score has maintained the same as in 2021.

The Sustainable Development Report 2023 ranks Italy in 24th position, it highlights that Italy continues to face some significant and major challenges. However, the country is on track with the No Poverty and Clean Water and Sanitation factors.

Last updated in October 2023. More country profiles here.

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