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The life centricity playbook

Proven strategies for growth and relevance

10-minute read

In brief

  • Consumer behavior is changing faster than businesses can keep up. Digital transformation can help them keep pace—but not get ahead.
  • Companies must go from product- or customer-centric strategies to a life-centric approach in order to achieve growth through relevance.
  • To move toward life centricity, executives need to see their customers as multifaceted and understand the complex external forces that impact them.
  • Our five key plays can help leaders develop a life-centric strategy and create momentum for the future.


of executives believe digital transformation efforts are helping them stay afloat, but aren’t driving new growth.

When the growing gets tough…

C-suite executives agree: It has never been more challenging to achieve meaningful growth.

After years of global volatility, companies need new strategies to thrive amid the upheaval. Meanwhile, people are becoming increasingly unpredictable as economic, social, environmental and political forces push them to continuously reassess their values and decisions.

Amid these ongoing challenges, we surveyed 1,700 global C-suite leaders over the course of two rounds. What we learned underlines the key issue of today: In our most recent survey, 95% of both B2C and B2B executives told us that they believe their customers are changing faster than they can change their businesses. That's up from 88% of executives just a few months prior.

Many are turning to technology to reshape their operations, but finding it isn’t enough: Though nearly all executives are accelerating their digital transformations, an astounding 97% acknowledge that, at best, such efforts merely allow them to keep pace, not fuel new growth.

Within our research, however, we discovered a ray of light: Some companies are beginning to break out. The highest growth companies in our study are widening their strategic aperture, transforming in ways that position them to drive new growth and relevance. They’re using technology more creatively to solve emerging customer needs. Most importantly, our analysis found that companies gaining momentum are not using strategies that are product-centric, or customer-centric—they are becoming life-centric.

Related: The human paradox

In our previous report, we explained how customer behavior is changing–and why it seems paradoxical

The way forward: A life-centric approach

Businesses today need to take a broader view that allows them to see customers in their full lives and adapt to their ever-changing needs and priorities. We call this life centricity.

A life-centric approach is built on understanding that people are multifaceted, and that they embrace their own complexity. It involves keeping a finger on the pulse of the external forces that impact modern life (whether economic, social, cultural or beyond) and finding ways to respond that create value for all. Companies with life-centric strategies are willing to make bold, creative changes to the heart of what they do, whether that means upending business models and internal operations or reimagining who their customers are.

Our research has found that businesses focused on life centricity are best positioned to maintain their relevance and thrive. They are three times more likely to outperform their peers on speed-to-market and almost five times more likely to outperform on customer lifetime value.

They’re also positioned to jump to the front of the growth race: Our modelling analysis predicts that companies who lead in life centricity will outpace the growth rate of their lagging peers by nine percentage points annually. For a $10 billion company, that could mean a difference of growing $4 billion in new annual revenues over five years—or shrinking by $1 billion in the same period.

Five life-centric plays to drive growth

Through analysis, we have identified five distinct and empirically-proven ways that companies on the path toward life centricity are capturing growth amid uncertainty. Each of these life-centric plays can be used on its own but has compounding effects if combined with the others.

Play #1

Gain a profound understanding of people

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Play #2

Broaden your canvas for value creation

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Play #3

Creatively transcend industry norms

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Play #4

Design a delightful experience continuum

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Play #5

Build a fluid operation across functions

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Putting the plays into the action

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Play #1: Gain a profound understanding of people


Growth potential:


more likely to achieve highest levels of profitability growth


more likely to achieve highest levels of employee retention

Rather than relying on one-dimensional ideas of who customers are, life centricity requires seeing them in a new light. Oversimplifying people and ignoring the complexities that shape them leaves opportunities for value creation on the table.

A combination of human and machine intelligence is allowing us to understand the interplay between these roles and forces more deeply than ever before. Through artificial intelligence, analytics, ethnography, trend forecasting and deep qualitative and quantitative research, leaders are able to create more dynamic, expressive customer segments that can evolve as their customers do. This dynamic view allows them to spot proactive opportunities for growth.

Play #2: Broaden your canvas for value creation


Growth potential:


more likely to achieve the highest levels of market share growth


more likely to achieve the highest levels of customer lifetime value

As people are rethinking their sense of purpose, they expect businesses to align with their values and to address the bigger problems they see in their lives and the world at large. Companies that take a narrow view of their role in society and the marketplace miss the opportunity to provide solutions to unmet needs—and reap the resulting profits. Those that don’t broaden their mission around social, environmental, economic and other values put their relevance at risk.

In this new world, how you meet these needs is just as important as meeting them. As people—both in business and in their personal lives—come to grips with the finite amount of resources on earth, the innovators who can turn scarcity into abundance through technology and ingenuity will win the growth battle.

Play #3: Creatively transcend industry norms


Growth potential:


more likely to achieve the highest levels of revenue growth from new ventures


more likely to achieve the highest levels of speed-to-market

Companies often define themselves by their industry, drawing comparisons with peers pursuing similar goals or taking pride in being labeled an “industry leader.” But it might just be time to rethink industry limits.

Intelligence capabilities are broadening, allowing innovators to identify creative ways to apply technology and talent to solve new problems. Meanwhile, customers don’t see industry lines the same way companies do—and are increasingly giving brands permission to play different roles in their lives. Consider the case of ride-sharing apps that expanded from connecting people with cars to connecting them with scooters, motorbikes, bicycles, food deliveries, product orders and more. They saw themselves as competition not just for taxis, but for any point-to-point movement of people and goods.

By connecting their deeper understanding of customers’ lives to potential new uses for talent and technology, companies can expand beyond the boundaries of their traditional industry and into a broader ecosystem of meeting people’s needs. It’s not just a technology update; it’s an entire mindset makeover, one that brings creativity into the boardroom to seize opportunities for value creation, growth and relevance in the process.

Play #4: Design a delightful experience continuum


Growth potential:


more likely to achieve the highest levels of customer satisfaction


more likely to achieve the highest levels of speed-to-market

Technology is often touted as a way to make things easier but as new tools, platforms and functionalities proliferate, and the lines between physical and digital worlds blur, it’s actually making customer experiences more challenging. Companies are adding tech that serves a specific silo, such as marketing or sales, but are failing to account for connections between those functions. This overcomplicates the experience for the user, without achieving the utility that the technology promises. We call this a “complexity tax.”

A life-centric approach aims to eliminate complexity tax by designing for simple but significant interactions across a unified experience continuum. To achieve it, all customer-facing functions (including product, marketing, commerce, sales and service) must be connected across a single data and experience platform. The full scope of the customer experience needs to be thoughtfully considered in a way that understands and responds to their needs in real time and draws actionable insights from those engagements.

Play #5: Build a fluid operation across functions


Growth potential:


more likely to achieve the highest levels of revenue growth


more likely to achieve the highest levels of profitability growth

Some executives may wonder which plagued their business first: intractable processes or overly-rigid culture? Either way, the resulting inflexibility permeates everything the company does—and is notoriously hard to dislodge. In fact, it’s becoming more intractable: 88% of executives told us that their organizations became more risk-averse as a result of the pandemic.

Companies can combat this inertia and renew organizational energy by looking inward and reconfiguring operations for flexibility and fluidity. A life-centric approach is about better understanding the needs of people—not just customers, but a company’s own internal talent as well. Automation can streamline routine tasks to free up talented teams for more complex, human-centered work. Unifying workflow systems and platforms, as well as incorporating agile organizational design, can create the efficiencies needed to boost productivity and profitability. And breaking down silos can unleash the communication and creativity that drives innovation.

Related: Brands on the path to life centricity

Find out how Kimberly-Clark, Qualcomm, Shiseido and others have implemented the plays in their organizations.

Putting the plays into action

In an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world, life centricity offers an opportunity for businesses to unlock lasting advantages that deliver new growth and relevance—even in the face of today’s unpredictable business environment. There is no single path to life centricity, but focusing investments and leadership attention toward these plays can start companies on their way. Each one helps strengthen connections with customers and provides a new step toward meaningful, sustainable growth.

There is no single path to life centricity, but focusing investments and leadership attention towards these plays can start companies on their way.

Julie Sweet / Chair & CEO

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Baiju Shah

Chief Strategy Officer & Global Lead, Next

Nevine El-Warraky

Senior Managing Director – Industry & Customer Growth Strategy, Global Lead

Marvin Miranda

Global Executive Strategy Director, Accenture Song

Joshua Bellin

Thought Leadership Research Lead, Accenture Song