Not everyone who works at Ford is a car person, per se. For instance, Sheryl Connelly is the manager of global consumer trends and futuring whose objective is to determine how consumer behavior impacts the automaker’s strategy, and to recognize and understand trends.
“It’s really about trying to understand consumer, society, and once you start to dig deep into trends, you start to recognize that politics, economics, environment, technology − they all are intertwined together, so that when you start pulling on one string, the entire fabric changes,” Connelly says.
Her tasks are interesting and important, especially given that it takes roughly three years for an automaker to bring a car to market.
One of her foci is with the health of future denizens around the world, as the global population is increasingly unhealthy. “We have to understand the nature of why change is happening. So you have the quality of food, in terms of nutrition,” adds Connelly. “Even emerging markets, they’re so poor, and you have an influx of technology that’s leading to a more sedentary lifestyle.” But it’s not just the health of an unhealthy population that is of Connelly’s concern; people are living longer too.
“The aging population is probably the single most important challenge that the world will face, both from a social and economic standpoint. So if you’re a car company, you have to ask yourself, ‘If people are going to surrender their car keys at 83, thinking they’ll live to be 85, what will happen if they think they’re going to live to be 105? So our challenge is to enable the freedom, the autonomy, and independence that comes from owning and operating your own vehicle.”
The convergence of these ideas has led Ford to address various elements of its vehicles, such as ergonomics and building a seat with a built-in heart rate monitor that “can help test the quality of your health when you’re in your vehicle.”
According to Ford, the 10 trends for 2015 are as follows:
- Make way for Gen Z, who follow Millenials but have yet to hit teens and twenties. There are over 2 billion of them and they will be car buyers in the future.
- Rally for renegades and rebels
- Flaunting failure
- Carryless movement
- No strings attached
- Expanding “next of kin”
- Give and take of privacy
- Elusive health (as described above)
- Escape artist
- Many faces of mobility
We wish Connelly went over each and every one of the top 10 trends above but, alas, she did not. Catch her interview with CBS Good Morning below: