Citizen-centricity transformation program

As the new face of the Middle-East emerges, Raphaël Butruille – Partner at VERTONE MENA and Marcel Stephan – independent business consultant, have developed a

marketing-inspired transformation program for citizen-centricity

If implemented successfully (assuming limited external factors) it could:

  • contribute to guiding fledgling democracies and the region-at-large
  • enhance leadership credibility and political stability
  • and drive citizen advocacy and economic success.

A review on this approach was published in Communicate Levant magazine for its July-August edition.

It is in the headlines every day

Regimes are being perceived unfavorably, and citizen raw emotion craves anything new or different – even if it involves uncertainty. Traditional regime advisories have been unsuccessful in anticipating this recent citizen uprising – it is not just about bread and butter / jobs; it is about citizen self-actualization, dignity and freedom.

The response so far has been tactical and largely unsuccessful. Most regimes are addressing Arab Unrest in a suboptimal manner – security crack-down, dish-out of money, or no reaction at all. However, this will eventually lead regimes to the dead-zone characterized by lack of citizen satisfaction, low physical and emotional fulfillment, economic throttling, and the possibly further unrest.

Guidance is required as the new face of the Middle-East emerges. We should welcome strategic thinking and differing perspectives. Therefore, we believe that regimes should prioritize their main stakeholder (citizens) and cater their efforts accordingly. The emphasis should not be on a communication approach aiming to tactically alter perceptions. Rather we recommend a holistic marketing-inspired citizen-centricity transformation program to help guide all regimes, infant democracies or others.

Our key assumption is that governments should demonstrate citizen-centricity by striving for enhancements in interactions / delivery between the public institutions and citizens – serving as input towards a broader national strategy. In return – just as customers develop commitment, loyalty and affiliation to brands, citizens are able to become advocates to their regimes. In its basic form this methodology has certain limitations, but it is useful for stirring an exciting debate amongst Marketing and Public Sector professionals.

Hence, we have created a framework based on marketing-driven tools to address citizen requirements :

  1. a) Citizen-Insight

Citizens, like customers, need to be better understood by their regime. Two main citizen-insight levers are: i) Needs Assessment: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a basis for understanding citizens’ motives for action. The most basic level of needs must be met before the person will desire a higher degree of needs. As people progress up the pyramid, needs become increasingly emotional and social. Inherently, citizens urge to reach self-actualization, therefore mindful regimes should help their citizens on this journey. ii) Segmentation: citizens are not homogeneous so segmentation into clusters is crucial for understanding citizen needs and motivations. This is realized by population research, identifying similar groups of citizens and determining dimensions, identifying target groups, and formulating specific action plans.

Regimes, like businesses, can also benefit from citizen-insight to: understand different citizens needs; leverage relevant, quantifiable and qualitative data; recognize evolution of needs and trends; identify priorities and diverse needs; optimize resources and realize the most impact for investment; better understand differing tribes, ethnicities, sects, ages, genders; and develop programs and services to meet citizen needs and desires.

  1. b) Brand-Experience

A citizen, like a customer, has emotional and physical expectations to be fulfilled by their regime. When these are realized, then acceptance, relationship and positive perception flourishes. Three main brand experience levers are: i) Branding: Regimes should convey regime identity and values, to build citizens’ adhesion, commitment and loyalty. ii) Product and Service delivery: Regimes should ensure citizen satisfaction through regime services and citizen relationship management to improve services e.g. health care system, education, tax return, public subsidies, etc. iii) Touchpoints: Each citizen is supposed to have a consistently pleasing experience from daily interaction with entities/channels representing the regime e.g.: security services, civil servants, websites, etc.

Regimes, like businesses, can also benefit from brand-experience to (credibly): instill pride, patriotism and devotion among citizens and deliver distinctive citizen-experience; make citizens feel that the regime is dedicated to their well-being and demonstrate that taxes are fairly used; mold citizen perception, and possibly alleviate concerns of corruption and transparency.

  1. c) Marketing-Driven Organization

Citizens, like customers, want to realize a cultural-fabric that suggests they are at the heart of regime thinking and behavior. They want to realize interaction with citizen-centric fundamentals (processes, organization, tools & systems, knowledge & skills, culture). Moreover, citizens would be happy to recognize internal and external performance indicator measurement and corrective measures.

Regimes, like businesses, can also benefit from a Marketing-Driven Organization to: respond quickly to changes in citizens’ demand; leverage benchmarks and indicators to measure efficiency and performance; ensure flexibility for efficient citizen-centric decision-making; and create accountability by communicating the results.

In conclusion,

Citizens feel emboldened and want to be heard. Regimes should cater for this by gaining insights in a marketing-inspired citizen-centricity transformation program, within a holistic framework, orchestrated by a citizen-experience function. This will be reinforced by an intensive cultural program to ensure each person within the regime has the “citizen-centric” mindset and behavior. This is a medium-to-long term approach, but may also help identify immediate quick-win initiatives.

This may potentially serve as input towards governmental roadmaps, and ultimately contribute to political stability, economic performance, citizen well-being and satisfaction.

Bhutan case study: “Gross National Happiness” : Bhutan’s benefits from pursuing citizen happiness are: Regime Sustainability, Citizen Advocacy and Economic Success. VERTONE commends Bhutan’s approach, and shall develop it further using Marketing Principles

Communicate Levant is a monthly magazine covering media, marketing and advertising in the Levant region and beyond. Communicate focus is on how organizations engage with their stakeholders: the press, investors, employees, regulators, the supply chain and the communities in which they operate. It is a regionalized edition of the 5 years old Communicate magazine issued in the UK. The Levant edition is a rich marketing and advertising resource that is published in Dubai in order to reach the entire Arab region.