Annually, Ford publishes a Consumer Trend Report that looks at 10 key micro-trends – across industries.
For 2016, Ford reveals new consumer insights that signals a renewed sense of inspiration and ingenuity, as consumers are driven more than ever to make the world a better place. Considering the challenges of the past decade – the past year, specifically – consumers are now relying even more on themselves and are determined to shape how they will communicate, work and even travel in the future.
At the helm of this report is Sheryl Connelly, Ford's in-house Futurist who says social, technological, economic, environmental and political shifts can deeply influence consumer perceptions, values and behaviors. “Ford’s 4th annual trend report, Looking Further with Ford 2016, provides a comprehensive look at micro-trends that are unfolding across the globe, shaping consumers, businesses and products,” she states. “These insights guide Ford’s strategy, product developments, mobility innovations and customer experiences.”
Connelly adds we’re also seeing a heightened focus on mobility: consumers are leveraging technology, sustainability and collaborative solutions to move more freely and embrace opportunities that defy conventional boundaries and barriers.
Here’s a look at the 10 trends that are expected to shape global consumer climate across all industries – not just automotive – for 2016.
1. Embracing Heroes
Where goodwill is faltering among established leadership, it’s gaining with communities and individuals who are rethinking what it means to be a good citizen, neighbor and person. Everyday heroes are stepping up to the plate, and they’re inspiring others to do the same.
- Consumers are eager to share good news - 73% of adults globally agree that they are more likely to share positive news stories on social media
2. Swiss Army Life
A rising emphasis on self-reliance has created an ethos of purposefulness and utility. Better living today is not about having more things – it’s about living smarter by pushing to get greater use out of fewer things.
- 75% of U.S. adults under the age of 35 say they’re willing to pay more for products that are more versatile.
- 76% of U.S. adults agree that they intend to keep their car for at least 10 years - highlighting the need for vehicles to provide utility across life stages.
3. Time Poverty
“So much to do, so little time” has always been one of life’s conundrums. Yet with greater connectivity, we’re increasingly on call, and time proves more elusive than ever.
- The average American spends 4.7 hours per day on his/her mobile phone and 48% of U.S. adults say that staying on top of social media is starting to feel like a full time job.
- 85% of U.S. adults agree that the expected response time for electronic communications is getting shorter and shorter. Work is also getting increasingly demanding - 50% of U.S. adults under the age of 35 feel compelled to check their work email during their off hours.
4. The EZ Life, Brought to You by the Connected Concierge
With growing support from artificial intelligence, the rise of full-service technology allows for outsourcing more responsibilities to innovative consumer features that learn and adapt to our needs – expanding our sense of hope and possibilities for better living.
- 48% of U.S. adults under 35 agree that they could see themselves buying a self-driving car in the future.
- 49% of U.S. adults under 35 believe that the benefits of autonomous machines (drones/artificial intelligence/self-driving cars) will outweigh the risks.
5. Mindful Goes Mainstream
Two-thirds of consumers across the globe say mindfulness is not a fad. As our lives become increasingly complicated and demanding, the solution for many is to be less mind-full and more mindful – giving ourselves time and space to breathe, reflect and regroup.
- 79% of U.S. adults say mindfulness is not just a fad, and 58% say they make a conscious effort to disconnect from their devices.
6. In Awe of Aging
As people live longer, healthier lives, the notion of aging is being redefined. Shifts in health care, nutrition and medical science are driving today’s seniors to defy tradition and reject long-held stereotypes of what it means to be elderly.
- By 2050, more than 2 billion people in the world will be over the age of 60 - more than double the number today.
- Globally, 55% of adults agree that society is less age-focused today. In the U.S., 76% of adults believe there are things they can do to proactively slow down the effects of aging.
7. Fit for Misfits
Today, one size fits nobody, and connections between mainstream brands and consumers are taking a back seat to more unique, personalized and meaningful ties.
- Globally, 69% of adults agree that contrarian ideas are celebrated as critical to shaping great ideas, while 54% of adults under the age of 35 agree that standing out is more important than fitting in (vs. 42% of those 35+ who agree).
- Authentic “Me” - in the U.S., 51% of U.S. adults under the age of 35 agree that people today are more inclined to be who they really are, rather than what they think society wants them to be.
8. Waste Not, Want Not
In a high-consumption society, innovators are getting creative with extracting value from stuff nobody wants. This sustainability trend promises to push the boundaries of people’s imagination and personal comfort.
- In the U.S. this is a particularly Millennial ethos. Of U.S. adults under the age of 35:
o 60% say they feel guilty about the amount of waste they generate.
o 88% believe that society has an obligation to reuse and reduce the amount of trash it
o 66% say they tend to favor products that have are made from recyclable content versus creates those that aren’t.
9. Buying Into the Flexible Economy
Once exclusively the turf of creatives, freelancing is becoming increasingly normalized – and it’s upending traditional contractual commitments.
- Millennial Freelancers - roughly half of global freelancers are between ages 26 and 35
10. Retail Revolution
Retail is no longer simply about product, it’s about experience; retailers are finding new ways to inspire meaningful connections with consumers.
- Shopping on the Go: By 2017, roughly 50% of in-store transactions will be completed via mobile devices.
- 48% of U.S. consumers say they will buy more from a retailer that personalized their shopping experience.
Todd Rabourn is the Regional Sales & Marketing Manager for the Denver Region. For more information about Ford Motor Company, please visit www.ford.com.