On Thursday, Ford Motor Company released its second annual trend report for the upcoming year. Among the top 10 predicted global consumer trends on the list: Consumers reevaluating their relationships with technology, balancing the need to be constantly plugged in with a new appreciation for spending quality time offline.
Looking Further with Ford 2014 highlights 10 trends for the new year that explore how the technology explosion will affect consumer choices and behaviors.
The top global trend for 2014, Innovation’s Quiet Riot, explores 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.
Against this backdrop, the report uncovers people’s desire to have downtime to reflect on what matters most — friends, family and community — evoking 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 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.”
This is the second year that Ford has monitored shifts in the social, technological, economic, environmental and political arenas to understand what drives consumer attitudes and behaviors — and how these attitudes and behaviors can impact the automotive industry. Insights from the trend report then guide development of future Ford products and services.
Looking Further with Ford 2014 focuses on a broad range of micro trends that affect businesses and consumers. The insights revealed reflect years of qualitative and quantitative research and 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.”
The 10 trends expected to influence consumers and brands in 2014 according to Ford are:
- 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 v. 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 everything 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.
While Ford has been gathering research with which to predict these trends that could affect its relationship with consumers in the coming year, it has also been working hard to ensure the well-being of people within its ranks: Earlier this week, the Human Rights Campaign gave the car company a perfect score in its latest Corporate Equality Index, which it awards to companies that demonstrate best-in-class corporate commitments to inclusion of LGBT workers.