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Connecting the Data to Uncover the Best Countries in the World

[Insights That Work - Case Study] Lightspeed conducted an extensive global panel for U.S. News & World Report’s Best Countries rankings.


What makes a country great? Education? Economic strength? Political system?

What makes a country the best?

Finding the best country in the world would mean collecting moments and connecting many different voices and cultures in an authentic way. For an inaugural study released in 2016, WPP’s brand strategy firm BAV Consulting turned to Lightspeed as the exclusive data partner for the project.

An extensive global panel was needed for U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 Best Countries rankings. The study and model used to score and rank countries was developed by BAV Consulting and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in consultation with U.S. News & World Report. An understanding of how to build representative samples for different parts of the world, in the correct language and suitable for the respondent’s device of choice would be critical to the project’s success.


Insights are only as good as the data collected, and for a robust global study this means connecting the dots along the way. It’s about composing the questions, considering cultural nuances, understanding how best to reach people globally and meet them on the device/medium of choice to ensure thoughtful, accurate responses.

Collecting moments and connecting voices from around the world means bringing the individual into the conversation. Before even going into field for the inaugural 2016 study, Lightspeed’s award-winning Vice President of Innovation, Jon Puleston, consulted on the survey design. Understanding panelists as people, no matter where they sit, is critical to project of this scope’s success. Lightspeed sourced and surveyed a total of 16,248 global citizens from 36 countries in four regions – the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Lightspeed was able to ensure another dimension of success through the use of its patented Honesty Detector solution in countries where it’s available. Understanding patterns in data by country, and filtering through ‘noisy data’ to identify relevant information would be critical to the project’s success.

Of the respondents in the initial study, 8,092 were informed elites and 4,513 were business decision-makers. Some respondents were considered both informed elites and business decision-makers. The remaining 6,381 respondents were gen-pop.


The Best Countries website was launched in 2016 to highlight the findings.

The study was repeated in 2017, this time with Lightspeed surveying a total of 21,372 individuals in 36 countries. measuring 75 dimensions that have the potential to drive trade, travel and investment and directly affect national economies. The findings were released in U.S. News & World report in March 2017, and the client generated significant top-tier media coverage including a feature article in the New York Times on the report’s launch date (March 7, 2017).

The significance of the study goes well beyond its visibility and media coverage. “How a nation is perceived outside its borders is critical to its success,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP’s Chief Executive Officer. “Smart, thoughtful and responsible administrations pay attention to image and reputation, because a better image contributes towards more foreign direct investment, more tourism and a ‘made-in’ or ‘created-in’ premium.”

The partnership and study continues to grow; Lightspeed recently went into field for the 2018 study which promises to be the biggest and best yet.

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