Customer centricity is linked to higher share price growth

Unstructured data analysis of the annual reports of FTSE 350 businesses reveals those that lead on customer centricity, as evidenced by the language used, grew their share prices over a three-year return by 10% more than those who were the least customer-centric.

According to our study of 700 Annual Reports from the FTSE 100 and 250 for the period 2018-2023 inclusive, we found that:

  • AI analysis of UK PLC annual reports highlights correlation between customer centricity, as evidenced by customer centric language, and company share price improvement across FTSE 350 businesses.
  • On average, references to customer-centricity appeared on a third (33%) of the pages of annual reports.
  • Share prices for the most customer-centric businesses grew by up to 10% over three years.
  • Consumer banking and utilities identified as the most customer-centric market segments.

Björn Dufwenberg, Managing Director of STRAT7 Advisory, says: “The most successful brands are built around the evolving needs and behaviours of the customer. The past five years have been more disrupted than any in living memory so our hypothesis was that those businesses best placed to navigate change at pace and scale would be the ones most active in thinking – and thus talking – about their customers.

“However, what’s key – and what we see in high performing businesses – is that the language used isn’t just lip service. This isn’t to say those brands will necessarily always get it right, but they understand the importance of continuous improvement. Making experiences better means listening to customers and acting on that feedback – and this especially true when mistakes are made.”

Consumer banking was the most customer-centric category overall with references to customer centricity featuring in around 60% of all pages in annual reports. NatWest emerged as the highest ranking FTSE 350 business overall with a customer-centric reference on over 70% of its pages. In addition, four of the top five ranking consumer banking brands remained high performing over the past three years, in spite of market disruption.

The second highest rated sector was utilities, and 80% of the businesses in this space grew their share price over three years. Travel and tourism took third place, with language related to customer centricity featuring in 47% of the pages in this segment’s annual reports. However, it’s worth noting this hasn’t shielded this category from macro factors such as the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.

Paul Jackson, joint lead of, says: “It’s challenging to make a definitive case for customer centricity being a core driver for share prices, given macro variables that have impacted each category in wildly different ways – for instance it wouldn’t be fair to compare consumer banking with travel and tourism like-for-like. 

“However, the aggregate figures across sectors certainly indicate there is a link between performance and a clear customer-centric mindset. A 10% uptick in share price performance makes for a compelling argument. It’s worth noting customer centricity cannot be turned on or off, it’s a journey that takes time and care, but as our findings show, it is one worth investing in.”

The research was carried out in summer 2023 using the platform. It reviewed the annual reports of all the UK’s largest listed companies (FTSE 100 and FTSE 250) to assess the relationship between customer centricity and stock market performance. 

The activity identified and logged customer-related phrases that appear in the same sentence as the key words “customer” and/or “customer centric.” The AI’s quant accuracy was then corroborated by human qualitative analysis of reports from the top performing companies. Statistical modelling was carried out taking pre-pandemic reports from 2019 as a baseline for performance within more typical market conditions.


For more information visit, or to find out more about the study please get in touch.


Joe Lockey

Senior Analyst

Joe joined us after completing rotations across our consumer, services and health sectors, whilst gaining exposure to both qualitative and quantitative research techniques.


Alice Hedlund


Alice has experience in customer-centric growth, brand strategy and innovation at global scale. She specialises in brand transformation journeys, bridging the gap between business and brand strategy to create holistic and actionable plans for impactful growth.

Helen Donald


Job Title

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Tom Carvell


Tom has a science background with a PhD in Materials Chemistry. He has spent most of his career working on in-house front-end innovation where he delivered mid/long term strategic projects for brands such as Durex, Scholl, Veet and KY. He is focussed on delivering pragmatic but provocative innovation strategy for CPG categories.

Manick Pratheeban

Senior Principal

Manick is a brand strategy and consumer insight specialist with 15+ years’ experience helping to grow some of the world’s biggest brands. He has a proven track record of translating trends, consumer, and market data into actionable insights to formulate growth strategies.

Kate Jones

Senior Principal

Kate has over a decade of experience in creating transformative strategies for customer-focused businesses. With a background in consumer insight and behaviour change across consumer health, packaged goods, leisure, banking and other sectors she focuses on elevating the customer experience to create human-centric innovations and foster impactful growth.

Jacob Gascoine-Becker


Jacob specialises in leveraging consumer research to inform investment strategy and business case development. A management consultant since 2014, he previously spent eight years working in ecommerce and digital marketing.

Ines Achabal

Senior Analyst

Ines is inately curious and creative. She is known for her expansive thinking when exploring client challenges and elevating the visual quality of outputs to maximise their impact.

Helene Mills


Helene has 20+ years’ experience advising business leaders and investors on growth strategy based upon consumer and market intelligence. Her particular specialism lies in leisure, retail, food and beverage sectors.

Helen Donald

Helen Donald


Helen has consulted businesses at different stages of growth across a variety of sectors, specialising in consumer packaged goods and consumer healthcare. She is an adept strategist, bringing clarity to the most complex of situations and connecting dots to create rich, future-proofed platforms for innovation, brand positioning and growth.

Allan Chen STRAT7 Advisory

Allan Chen

Senior Principal

Allan’s core skillset provides an analytical and commercial lens to address client challenges. He started his career as an actuary, and since then has held a broad range of strategic roles, improving performance across the private and public sector.


Björn Dufwenberg

Managing Director​

Björn has 15+ years’ experience in insight-driven transformation, across management consulting, as well as brand and innovation agency roles. Most recently he headed up the Customer-Led Transformation practice at PwC Sweden, until joining STRAT7 in 2021. He’s worked on global projects covering consumer goods, durables, spirits and beverages, retail, banking, and private equity.

Kamilla Dala

Senior Principal

Kamilla has 10+ years’ experience leading and implementing insight-driven transformation within global matrix organisations in durable and consumable goods. Areas of expertise cover segmentation, uncovering and translating actionable consumer insights within innovation, product development, brand positioning, strategy and marketing.