[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n a world of constant and dramatic change, new insights from Ford’s Looking Further with Ford 2016 trend report reveal a renewed sense of inspiration and ingenuity among consumers striving for a better quality of life in the New Year – motivated more than ever to make the world a better place.
Despite an underlying sense of disillusionment, consumers are more inspired to defy the odds and use innovation to embrace new platforms for change. Through the trends Ford has identified for 2016, the company is exploring how technology, sustainability and collaboration are being leveraged so that it can help create solutions to improve how consumers live, work, and even travel in the future.
“In our four years of researching and compiling consumer trends, never have we seen optimism, resilience and self-reliance figure so prominently,” said Sheryl Connelly, Ford global trend and futuring manager. “It gives us hope for what the future holds, and we see that same creativity and enterprising spirit driving innovation in every part of our business at Ford.”
Key consumer findings
Changing views on health, consumption, transportation and work models are upending traditional ways of thinking, with innovation and technology rapidly ascending to transform culture and consumer behaviour. Among the findings:
- Globally, more than half of Millennials agree that standing out is more important than fitting in – revealing an increased focus on self-reliance and purposefulness
- Consumers are eager to spread good news and are more likely to share positive stories on social media
- Members of an expanding ageing population are proactively seeking to prolong their quality of life and personal freedoms
- While innovation is driving new ways to enhance quality of life, demands for connectivity and time are increasing, resulting in a society that is always on-call
- Efficiency and utility are the hallmarks for how we are now living and consuming. With Americans spending nearly five hours per day on their mobile phone, consumers are looking for ways to be less mind-full and more mindful, living smarter and pushing to get greater use out of fewer things
What’s trending for 2016 Ford’s report is a blueprint for understanding how these 10 trends are expected to influence consumers and brands for 2016 and beyond:
- 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, neighbour and person. Everyday heroes are stepping up to the plate, and they’re inspiring others to do the same.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 way forward many people are embracing is to be less mind-full and more mindful – giving ourselves time and space to breathe, reflect and regroup.
- In Awe of Ageing: As people live longer, healthier lives, the notion of ageing is being redefined. Shifts in health care, nutrition and medical science are driving today’s seniors to reject long-held stereotypes of what it means to be elderly.
- Fit for Misfits: Today, one size fits nobody, and connections between mainstream brands and consumers are taking a back seat to unique, more personalized and meaningful ties.
- 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 resourcefulness.
- Buying into the Flexible Economy: Once exclusively the turf of creatives, freelancing is becoming increasingly normalized – and it’s upending how we produce and consume goods and services.
- Retail Revolution: Retail is no longer simply about product, it’s about experience; retailers are finding new ways to forge meaningful connections with consumers.
Insights driving Ford
The trends highlighted in this fourth annual report go beyond the auto industry to help Ford comprehend what’s happening globally in social, technological, economic, environmental and political arenas. These insights drive every aspect of the company’s business – overall strategy, development of future products and services, and the customer purchase and ownership experience – helping Ford create innovative mobility solutions that address consumers’ rapidly changing needs.
The trends point to a heightened focus on mobility as a means to help develop new ways to address the complexities of urban transportation, global gridlock and increased connectivity among consumers. Nearly 75 per cent of adults worldwide say greater mobility is important for global stability. Ford echoes this view, and is dedicated to using technology, sustainability and collaborative approaches to make the world a better place.
“There’s no escaping the impact the rapid pace of technology has on culture,” said Connelly. “What’s fascinating to watch is how companies like Ford adapt and innovate at this pace. These insights help us to create products and services that not only exceed today’s expectations; they provide innovative ways of looking at how to tackle challenging situations of tomorrow.”
Through consumer-centric innovation, Ford is playing a pivotal role in championing mobility by creating smart vehicle networks and embracing changing models of ownership and consumption that favour greater access for all. Ford Smart Mobility is the company’s plan to take connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicle technology, the customer experience, and data and analytics to the next level. Its efforts will ultimately deliver safer, more convenient and efficient methods of addressing global transportation challenges.