Belgium … a failed state? A hell hole? Divided by language? We are not making it up. These are all expressions used by the international media in their coverage of Belgium in the aftermath of the Brussels terror attacks on 22 March 2016. Together with some of its clients, WHY5Research wanted to find out how Belgium is portrayed by people today:
- Is there a difference between Dutch-speaking and French-speaking residents?
- What is the Muslim community’s view of Belgium?
- What is the British view of Belgium now that they have decided to withdraw from the European Union?
- What can we learn from this in order to develop and improve the brand Belgium?
CrowdPulse is a tool which has been created for the purpose of obtaining a representative image of how people talk about a brand. We asked a representative sample of Dutch-speaking residents, French-speaking residents, Muslims (Dutch- and French-speaking) and Britons to evaluate all facets of the country Belgium and to give their arguments to support this evaluation (open question). The arguments were presented to a separate sample of respondents as well in order to examine whether the arguments had an impact on their attitude.
The evaluation, expressed as a score, provides a global picture of the relationship. The respondents’ arguments are analysed and categorised by our researchers, who are specialised in qualitative research. Next, we performed a quantitative analysis: how often do people speak about each topic, what types of people argue more or less (or more positively or negatively) about a certain topic, etc. To conclude, we assess which arguments are most likely to change people’s attitudes.
Belgium exists: subgroups within Belgium award our country a reasonably high score. Linking factors which are most frequently mentioned are not typical Belgian symbols like the Royal family or Brussels, but rather the quality of life, the varied and attractive offer and social security. However, there are also those who were critical.
Belgians speak most negatively about societal topics such as immigration (either too much or too inhumane), inefficient government, tax rates as well as the pressure on purchasing power. Thus, the relationship with Belgium is also under pressure.
Dutch-speaking residents, French-speaking residents and Muslims mostly share their positive and negative views about each topic. Nevertheless, there are important nuances. Muslims’ experience of confrontation with a closed native community puts a heavy burden on their identification with Belgium, for example.