Brand Finance logo

What Drives Consideration of City Brands?

Katrina Rogala
08 June 2023

The Brand Finance City Index measures consideration and reputation perceptions from a global audience of consumers to map key performance indicators for city brands. Specifically, consideration and reputation are asked across 7 core dimensions ranging from studying to retiring in a city. To gain further insight, the general public is then prompted with a list of 45 attributes which are categorized into 7 pillars (see Figure 1 page 16) and asked to identify which they would associate with the cities they are familiar with.

Katrina Rogala, Analytics Manager, Brand Finance
Katrina Rogala
Analytics Manager,
Brand Finance

Delving further into the data behind the index we can see what drives stronger levels of consideration, and thus revealing levers that can be pulled to improve the desirability of a city to relevant audiences.

To achieve this, we run relative importance regression analysis on consideration and reputation against the 45 attributes to define the most important drivers across the 7 dimensions. Insight can be elevated further by applying a lens of segmentation, looking at the results amongst various demographic groups to create action plans for targeting specific audiences.

Generational Similarities and Contrasts

Attracting people from different generations may seem more multifaceted than it is. Looking at Baby Boomers and Gen Z for example, there are quite a few similarities in driving consideration for a city as a destination to live.

Both generations place a high importance on attributes which fall under the People & Values and Liveability pillars, such as trustworthiness and offering an appealing lifestyle.

Of course, they are not entirely without differences. Baby Boomers place a higher importance on Business & Investment, with attributes such as having a strong and stable economy and ease of finding employment showing up in their top 10 drivers.

Gen Z, while also valuing a strong and stable economy, place greater importance on Education & Science attributes, unsurprisingly considering their life stage.

While the Liveability pillar has highest importance to both generations when considering a city to live in, each generation places a different importance on the attributes within that pillar highlighting some interesting differences.

Diverse Country-Level Perspectives

Residents from different countries show a great variety in what drives them to consider a city to work locally from.

Taking respondents from the US and China for example and looking at the top 10 drivers reveal distinctively different results.

Chinese respondents are much more balanced between the 7 pillars when considering a city to work in, while American respondents are skewed towards Business & Investment and Governance, with 3 pillars not appearing in their top 10 drivers at all.

Looking inside the pillars at the specific attributes, Business & Investment is one which residents in both China and the US broadly agree on.

Both place high importance on attractive taxation laws and a work culture which promotes start-ups and innovations.

Within Governance, both countries agree that it is important to have citizens which engage in governance.

US residents additionally look for ethical governance and low corruption as well as easy visa applications.

Attracting Investors vs Tourists

Despite Investment and Tourism being quite different dimensions, one could argue that attracting tourism is the first step to increase familiarity as well as consideration in the other dimensions.

Rarely does one move to live in, retire in, or invest in a city without having visited it first.

Aside from looking at demographic segments we can also target groups by activities they engage in.

In this case looking at people who frequently invest as well as those who frequently travel to see what drives their consideration when choosing to invest in or visit a city.

Naturally, Business & Investment is the most important pilar in attracting investment.

Perhaps more surprising is that both investors and tourists place similar importance on the Liveability of a city with attributes such as an appealing lifestyle and a common language coming in strong on both sides.

In fact, out of the 10 top drivers of consideration for investment and tourism, four are held in common:

+ Trustworthy

+ Strong and stable economy

+ Speaks a language I understand

+ Appealing lifestyle

Identifying your area of focus to build consideration

After defining the target audience and understanding what drives them, it is important to understand current perceptions among the target audience of the city brand. This will provide a clear picture of where the city brand differentiates itself and what needs focus, reinforcement, and monitoring.

About the Author

Katrina Rogala
Analytics Manager
Brand Finance