The study reveals that 44% of respondents across Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Turkey believe their governments share their values compared to only a quarter globally.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Turkey rank above 26 other countries in the world for the perceived alignment of their policies and programs with the personal values of their people, according to a new report from BCW, the leading global communications agency.
Based on a survey of more than 36,000 people across 30 countries, different generations, and income groups and one of the largest studies of its kind, BCW’s ‘Age of Values 2023’ report examined the perceived gap between the values of governments and their citizens.
In the four Middle Eastern countries covered in the study, nearly half (44%) of the respondents overall strongly agreed that their personal values were in tune with their government’s policies, compared with only a quarter who said this globally.
According to the research, the values gap is most pronounced in Southern (14%) and Northern Europe (15%) and English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US (17%). The gap is smaller in South and Southeast Asia where 39% of people say their governments share their values.
The government-citizen values gap is the smallest in Saudi Arabia, according to the research, with nearly 55% of respondents strongly agreeing that their personal values align with their government’s policies.
The BCW study also found that globally more than eight out of 10 people say they have a clear understanding of their own values, the guiding principles which determine their behaviors. The top three global values are Benevolence (motivates us to promote the welfare of the people with whom we are in frequent contact); Universalism-Societal (motivates us to promote understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection of all people in society); and Security (motivates us to promote personal and societal safety and stability).
The research also shows that the disconnect between governments’ values and those of their citizens changes across generations and incomes. More than a third of Generation Z in the Middle Eastern countries analyzed – compared with a quarter across all nations (25%) - strongly believe that their values align with their governments’ policies and programs. And almost a third of those on high incomes globally believe that their values align with those of their governments, compared to just a fifth of those on low incomes.
“We are in an era where values are a part of the political, social, and cultural conversation,” said Rebecca Grant, Global Chief Brand Officer, BCW. “Crucially, in a world of change and uncertainty, our values are a ‘persistent truth.’ The chasm between citizens’ values and the perception that they have of their governments’ values has broad implications not just for government but for society.”
Sunil John, President – MENA of BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, the region’s leading communications consultancy, said: “The findings emerging from the Middle East countries included in the research highlight the focus of their national governments on the issues that matter to their citizens. They corroborate a recurring insight from our annual study of Arab youth attitudes, which is that most young Arab men and women, especially in the GCC countries, believe their voice matters to their leadership.”
The BCW report also found that people globally have high expectations of brands and businesses when it comes to incorporating their values. Across Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Turkey, over 80% of respondents say they agree that businesses must act now to combat climate change.
Rather than solely rely on conventional demographics to understand people, the report suggests segmenting the global population into seven key Values Archetypes which cut across geography and generations and are built around combinations of the core values most important to them.
The Success Seeker is drawn by a desire for power and personal achievement; The Adventurer seeks stimulation and new experiences; The Good Neighbor prizes the welfare of friends, family, and community; and The Conformist wants to fit in and avoid confrontation. The Visionary is someone who prizes personal freedom and creativity; The Protector prioritizes people and the planet; and The Traditionalist focuses on safety, stability, and harmony.
“Clearly, there is a tremendous opportunity for businesses, brands, organizations, and governments to build lasting connections and drive behavior by aligning with their audiences’ values,” Grant added. “We know that values are formed in adolescence and stay steady over time, so this alignment is increasingly important against a backdrop of constant cultural change and disruption.”