In an effort to better understand consumers, what drives their attitude and behaviors, and how all that impacts the automotive space, Ford Motor Company is constantly monitoring and investigating shifts in various arenas, including social, technological, economic, environmental and political. Insights gathered from these monitoring and research activities — both quantitative and qualitative — are then assembled into what Ford calls its trend report, which subsequently guides Ford designers, engineers, and marketers to develop future Ford products and services.
Released in late 2013, Ford’s second annual trend report is entitled Looking Further with Ford 2014. It highlights ten global consumer trends for the new year that explore how the technology explosion will affect consumer choices and behaviors. Notably, the report finds that “consumers will reevaluate their relationships with technology in 2014, balancing the need to be constantly plugged in with a new appreciation for spending quality time off-line”.
According to the report, the top global trend for 2014, something Ford refers to as Innovation’s Quiet Riot, asks “whether people will continue trying to keep up with an always-on society and experience a fear of missing out, or begin to find joy in moments free of digital distraction.” The report explores the desire to “have downtime to reflect on what matters most — friends, family and community”, which evokes “nostalgia as consumers remember the comfort and character associated with the way things were.”
“There is no escaping the impact – both positive and negative – of the rapid pace of technology. What is more fascinating to watch in 2014 is how a culture of reflection is emerging,” said Sheryl Connelly, Ford Motor Company global trend and futuring manager. “We are seeing a consumer culture that is increasingly mindful of the need to nurture society’s valuable and irreplaceable resources.”
The research is also shaped by collaboration with thought leaders from around the world.
“Understanding our customers and their evolving needs is key to Ford’s accelerated growth plan and new vehicle development,” said Connelly. “Consumer insights and trends help guide our product strategies and the development of vehicles that not only exceed customer expectations, but also connect with the rapidly changing landscape of our society.”
And so, Ford’s 10 trends expected to influence consumers and brands in 2014 include:
- Innovation’s Quiet Riot: fast-paced and disruptive innovation is becoming increasingly institutionalized and ubiquitous – fundamentally changing the way consumers work, play and communicate
- Old School: consumers are romanticizing how things used to be, finding comfort and connection in products, brands and experiences that evoke nostalgia
- Meaningful vs. the Middle Man: seeking more intimate connections with retailers and service providers, consumers are hunting for stories of identity and meaning in their products and services
- Statusphere: across the globe, consumers are broadening the ways they display their wealth – sometimes it screams, sometimes it whispers – upending traditional expressions of status and influence
- Vying for Validation: in a world of hyper-self-expression, chronic public journaling and other forms of digital expression, consumers are creating a public self that may need validation even more than their authentic self
- Fear of Missing Out/Joy of Missing Out: a tug of war is emerging as the traditional FOMO is challenged by the JOMO. On one end, consumers are persevering to take advantage of everything at their disposal. On the other, they are mindful of the need to focus on, and enjoy, what matters most
- Micro Moments: with so much information at our fingertips, downtime has given way to filling every moment with bite-sized chunks of information, education and entertainment – seemingly packing our lives with productivity
- Myth of Multitasking: in an increasingly screen-saturated, multitasking modern world, more and more evidence is emerging to suggest that when we do everything at once, we sacrifice the quality – and often safety – of each thing we do
- Female Frontier: profiles of women have reached new prominence; demographic shifts are changing household dynamics and definitions. Together, women and men will redefine roles and responsibilities in 2014
- Sustainability Blues: the world has been fixated on going green, and now the attention is shifting beyond recycling and eco-chic living to a growing concern for the power and preciousness of the planet’s water
The full 52-page-long report is available to download here (in PDF format).