Brand South Africa

In an effort to assess South Africa’s global reputation in various key areas, Brand South Africa conducted extensive research on the perceptions that other countries have on South Africa. A total of 17 countries were surveyed with over 9800 respondents and focused on brand audiences related to tourism, investment, talent, exports and general reputation.

On Friday, Brand South Africa hosted an event whereby the results and key findings of the research were revealed to various stakeholders and media in attendance.

Brand South Africa’s GM of Research, Lefentse Nokaneng, highlighted how the research allowed the country to leverage its strengths and find solutions on how to remedy its perceived weaknesses.

The key findings of the research, which covered 5 brand dimensions (Investment, Tourism, Exports, Talent and   General Reputation) were delivered by Bloom Consulting CEO, Jose Filipe Torres. Torres revealed that South Africa was found to perform more favourably than in previous years, with perception scores on the Economy and Natural Assets increasing significantly.

Similarly, he mentioned that while the United Kingdom’s reputation outperformed all the 17 countries included in the study, South Africa was well ranked, placing third in the dimensions of Investment and Export. These rankings all surpassed the results of the previous study conducted in 2022. When respondents were asked about what makes South Africa stand out from other countries, Wildlife, Scenery and Safaris topped the list. Interestingly, while willingness to invest increased 13% over 2 years, willingness to travel to South Africa from a touristic perspective only marginally increased by 1%, even though tourism remained one of the most digitally searched dimensions, with a huge growth of 17% in online searches over the past year. The domain ranked as the 7th top contributor in tourism, when compared to the other countries in the study. Torres also pointed out how South Africa’s Rugby World Cup 2023 win led to a huge spike in the country’s overall reputation and prominence.

While there was much good news on how the country was perceived, there were many aspects wherein South Africa was viewed negatively – signalling room for improvement. Unfortunately, Safety and Crime is still seen as a major issue of concern – a concern that was similarly highlighted in the previous years’ study. However, when it came to digital searches on safety and crime, Chile, Brazil and Thailand all faired significantly worse than South Africa.

Overall, the study revealed that South Africa has a “moderately positive perception” in all the brand dimensions studied, and Torres commended Brand South Africa for their “good work on growing South Africa’s general reputation”.

In reaction to the findings, moderator Fifi Peters subsequently facilitated a panel discussion, fronted by four revered captains of industry including ACEO of Brand South Africa, Ms. Sithembela Ntombela; CEO of Invest South Africa, Yunus Hoosen; CMO of South African Tourism, Thembisile Sehloho; Executive Vice President: Corporate Affairs and Investor relations – DP World Company, Ms. Esha Mansingh; and Strategic Trade Development for Aspen Pharmacare, Mr. Stavros Nicholaou.

The panel conducted a discursive and solutions-orientated discussion that not only evaluated the positives and negatives of the Global Reputation Study, but also initiated pro-active dialogue on how South Africa could best harness its reputation in the next 30 years. 2024 marks the 30th year of South African democracy, and the country’s global reputation has evolved substantially since 1994. The panellists unanimously agreed that bettering South Africa’s global perception over the next three decades would require a keen focus on sustainable projects such as Critical Minerals and Green Energy, as well as purposeful “collective action” between government, the private sector and civil society.

Ultimately, the Global Reputation Study revealed reassuring results, and provided Brand South Africa with valuable insight into the country’s global reputation. Brand South Africa ACEO, Sithembile Ntombela, concluded that, “There were many findings in the study that give hope. But there is room for improvement. There is always room for improvement. What this research provides us with is the ability to focus on addressing the more negatively perceived facets of the country, and also determine how we can best dispel misconceptions about South Africa.”