88% of executives believe that employees and customers needs are changing faster than businesses can respond to them. It is leading to a crisis of relevance, according to a new report from Accenture*.   

“External factors – from economic to cultural, environmental and political – are affecting people more than ever before. It’s making life more complicated and purchasing decisions more multi-faceted,” said Baiju Shah, Accenture’s CSO.  

“There is a growing divide between what consumers need and value, and what businesses offer – creating a relevance gap. We believe that companies can bridge this gap and herald significant growth. This is by not focusing on promoting consumption, but in meaningfully contributing to customers’ lives.”   

The report focuses on the gap between consumer’s expectations, and what businesses think their customers want.    

According to the research, based on a survey over 25,000 consumers, two-thirds expect companies to understand and address changing needs during times of disruption. To bridge the gap between people’s expectations and what companies can realistically provide, leaders need to see their customers in their full complexity. This is the only way to meet customers’ evolving needs.  

What customers want

Six in 10 consumers said that their priorities keep changing because of external pressures. As a result, they’re in multiple stages of crisis management, with paradoxical behaviours emerging. This includes:   

  • Customers want to follow their personal values, but not at the expense of financial value. More than half of consumers say the pandemic motivated them to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. But up to 65% say price increases have led them to select lower-cost brands on recent purchases. For example, a consumer will seek to buy ethically farmed, sustainable beef, but select the cheaper option in this inflationary environment.   
  • Customers want to be in control of their fate but also want to be guided to it. Though over three-quartersof customers feel empowered to make key decisions in their life, nearly 64% wish that companies would respond faster to meet their changing needs. For example, a consumer wants to feel like they are making their own decision on which product to buy. However, they will also feel comfortable going with a recommendation.   

While paradoxical behaviours in humans are not new, what’s changed is the frequency and comfort with which they are made. 69% of global consumers who admit to behaving inconsistently think that paradoxical behaviours are both human and acceptable.    

From customer-centricity to life-centricity

The report wholly found nearly all businesses are struggling to stay relevant. A life-centric approach will bridge the experiential interplay between customers’ ever-changing lives and the external forces that influence them daily. The reports suggests that companies that embrace this approach are best positioned to thrive in the future, form new connections, and create relevant brands, products, or services.     

To stay relevant to your customers, you must stay informed. Engage with your customers regularly – it’s important that they feel understood and listened to. 


*Accenture survey conducted of 850 global executives, January to March 2022.

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