With a new year on the horizon, we all cast our eyes to the future, setting goals and objectives for the upcoming months. It is in this spirit that Ford released its first-ever trend report, Looking Further with Ford, which is packed with revealing predictions about consumer habits and behaviors for 2013 and beyond.
These predictions were made by looking outside the automotive industry to understand what’s happening in social, technological, economic, environmental and political arenas. The in-house futurist for Ford, Sheryl Connelly, helped capture 13 micro trends that Ford will be watching over the coming year.
“Ford values the insights of trends to help guide our product development strategies so we can be as educated as possible to anticipate the cutting-edge technologies and automotive solutions customers will want, need and desire – well into the future,” said Connelly, Global Trends and Futuring Manager for Ford. “These trends and insights help Ford in our role as an innovator to create products that not only exceed consumers’ expectations, but that push the boundaries of imagination.”
One of the most important trends is that “Trust is the New Black.” What this means is that trust is becoming a key differentiator between brands. As people trust an average of only one in four brands today, companies that have their customers’ trust are holding onto an increasingly valuable and scarce commodity.
Going hand in hand with the importance of trust is an onus on companies to “get real.” People realize that no one is perfect, and are in fact wary of companies that present themselves as without fault or error. Rawness, authenticity and vulnerability are seen as positives.
The trend report also sees the rise of the “consumer republic,” as people increasingly use their purchasing power to influence how companies behave. Nearly two-thirds of people believe that they can change corporate behavior by supporting companies that do the right thing.
Another major trend is that more and more people are striking out on their own and “pioneering pathways.” With many Millennials expecting to stay in a job for three or fewer years, the traditional notion of working with one company for decades has gone out the window. People are working from home, valuing happiness more than money, and reshaping the conventions in their lives.
As more and more people strike out on their own, Ford is predicting a phenomenon it calls the “micro skills DIY.” To make their mark, people are pursuing new skills and ways of marketing themselves. This ties in with another trend, “help me help myself,” which sees people turning to self-imposed programs of incentive and disincentive to yield meaningful change in their lives.
Other trends covered in the report include sorting through information overload, valuing quality over quantity, escaping from behind screens to experience the real world, changing assumptions about aging, and the mainstreaming of green culture. All of these trends will affect businesses and customers alike in the coming years, and Ford is keeping a keen eye on them as we move forward into 2013.