In brief

In brief

  • To thrive in the future, companies must recognize the new lifestyle shifts and reshape their growth strategies accordingly.
  • Our survey of 1,500 senior executives reveals a majority of companies aren’t adjusting their strategies to prepare for the future society.
  • A group of companies we call Forerunners recognize that emerging lifestyle shifts will impact business, and are taking steps to seize opportunities.
  • To become Forerunners, companies should target versatile talent, create sustainable solutions, invest in human care and use technology responsibly.

Opportunity to lead

Investors and consumers are joining a chorus of voices calling for a new mandate for the business world: lead the way in efforts around social inclusivity and environmental sustainability.

Many of the societal shifts that pre-dated the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated in the last year, as reflected in Accenture’s study titled Society Disrupted. Now What?”

Consumers expect greater transparency in the origins of goods. Citizens await digital health passports so they can travel again. City dwellers demand more sustainable, smart neighborhoods.

We believe that these emerging lifestyle demands will present new business opportunities that cannot be captured with pre-crisis strategies. Companies must prepare for the society of the future.

Accenture surveyed 1,500 senior executives in 10 industries across 12 countries to see how (or if) companies intend to adapt to these shifts in the next five years. And, we discovered a wide gap between recognition of the opportunity and readiness to tap into it.

Almost two-thirds of senior executives expect these lifestyle shifts to become the new norm, but 60% admit their companies are not yet prepared to meet the evolving needs.

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The Rise of Forerunners

Vedrana Savic

Sixty four percent of senior executives expect emerging new lifestyles to arrive within the next five years.

How long will it take for following lifestyles to become the new norm?

Percentage of respondents

Total sample, n=1,500 Source: Accenture Growth Markets C-level Survey, September – October 2020

Gianfranco Casati

CEO – Growth Markets

Dr. Vedrana Savic

Managing Director – Thought leadership

Valentin de Miguel

Senior Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting and Sustainability Services Lead, Growth Markets

Trevor Gruzin

Senior Managing Director – Growth & Strategy, Growth Markets


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Forerunners expect the unexpected

For companies to thrive in the next decade, they must recognize the changes that are coming and reshape their growth strategies accordingly.

Our study identified a small group of companies that are leading the way in preparing for the society of the future. We call them Forerunners.

Forerunners expect to be significantly impacted by emerging lifestyles. They show a higher sense of urgency and are taking bold steps to address these shifts.

But Forerunners represent only a small fraction—just 11%—of companies surveyed. This means nine out of 10 companies urgently need to look ahead or risk being left behind.

Forerunners (11% of companies surveyed) expect a significant business impact from most of the emerging lifestyles by 2030.
The Forerunners (162 companies)

Expected business impact from emerging lifestyles of the future

Percentage of respondents who selected “to a very large extent” or “to a large extent” on a five-point scale

Forerunners, n=162; Other companies, n=1,338

Forerunners, n=162; Other companies, n=1,338 Source: Accenture Growth Markets C-level Survey, September – October 2020

Four ways to thrive in the society of the future

We identified four business priority areas where companies must intensify change—today and in the next five years—to meet the needs of a rapidly shifting society.

  1. Target versatile talent
  2. Create sustainable solutions
  3. Invest in human care
  4. Use technology responsibly

Forerunners stand out in the business priorities they choose to focus on, over time. With their forward-thinking and strategic business positioning, these companies are taking concrete steps to meet the challenges and opportunities that are arriving at a furious pace.

Laying the foundation for a better future

Calls are growing for companies to embrace their responsibility to create a society that is better for all.

While most senior executives recognize that the future will not be an extension of the past, they have work to do in accelerating the necessary changes within their organizations.

Forerunners are demonstrating that bold steps in the areas of new talent, sustainability solutions, human-centric innovation and responsible technology are necessary for laying the foundation for a better future, not only for their own business success, but also for the benefit of their employees, customers, partners and communities.

Joining their ranks is a tall order—but one that is within reach.

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