What makes urban dwellers happy? According to a 10,000 respondent, 20 country market research effort from GfK Custom Research, it is a location-based perception: does you city offer you places to go that make you happy? Apparently, the perception-reality gap is what is really interesting the city governments. Happiness is a fleeting commodity in reality, it comes and goes, but the perception of happiness is the real bottom-line driver for cities and their branding.
The winning locations end up being quite obvious candidates; entertainment and cultural heavyweights, beautiful urban areas and laid-back lifestyles lead the march. Policy advisor, Simon Anholt, comments that if the survey had been conducted over 100 years ago, the list would be close to identical, with the exception of Australian cities making a unexpected appearance – calling them somewhat “of a branding miracle”.
Sydney and Melbourne have their place on the list due to their attractive weather conditions, inclusive local communities, Australia as a sought after travel destination, and the allure that the people Down Under exude to outsiders. The Mediterranean quality of life put Barcelona and Madrid strongly in the running, and the creative flair and aesthetics of Rome and Paris ensure the cultural heavyweights their respective positions on the leader board.
The winner, Rio de Janeiro, pays credit to the easy-going and good-humoured characteristics of Brazil as a whole, and the Rio Carnival is a staple happiness engine that helps Rio beat off the competition.
Out of all of these cities, which is your favourite and why? Leave me a note in the comment section below.