DEARBORN - Ford just released its second annual Looking Further with Ford trend report, and Sheryl Connelly, the company’s global trend and futuring manager, hosted a panel discussion with high-profile thought leaders at Ford’s pre-NAIAS media event last week to discuss the 10 global trends expected to influence consumer behavior in 2014.
“My job is to look at social, technological, economic, environmental and political arenas to try and understand what forces are shaping the face of consumer demand and examine how these attitudes and behaviors can impact the automotive category,” said Connelly.
Connelly said trying to understand what consumers will want in the future is an age-old question that began with Henry Ford in 1914 and continues to daunt us today.
“It takes us three years to bring a vehicle to market and if we were to ask each of you what can we build three years from now that’s going to make your life easier and be cutting edge and innovative, most of us would say I don’t know what’s going to make my life innovative in three weeks or three months let alone three years from now,” she said.
“So the tools we use from a futuring standpoint are trends that help guide our designers, engineers and marketers in the development of future Ford products and services that connect with the rapidly changing landscape of our society.”
The Looking Further with Ford 2014 trend report highlights 10 micro trends expected to affect businesses and consumers, and they reflect years of qualitative and quantitative research and collaboration with global thought leaders.
The 10 trends 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 service
• 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
Highlights of Panel Discussion
The panel discussion included: Dan Creekmore, marketing director, Facebook; Deborah Hopkins, chair and CIO, CitiVentures; and Chris Riley, president and founder, Studio Riley.
Connelly began by asking the panelists which of the 10 trends resonated with them the most. Creekmore cited the Myth of Multi-Tasking.
“Being at Facebook there are so many directions you can run as an employee. We have a billion users and we have a lot less employees and a lot of things that need to be prioritized to get done and we generally move fast as a company,” he said. “So not being overwhelmed by 20 different things is important for being successful there. I’m a big fan of prioritization and being able to do those things well.”
Hopkins said the Female Frontier resonated most with her.
“I’ve been a lifelong advocate for women often being the only female executive in the room,” she said. “As we’re watching women rise in corporations what we’re not seeing is women as entrepreneurs. They are hugely under-represented in the field. So our question is, where are the women entrepreneurs? And we’re really focused on trying to make a difference there.”
Riley’s choice was Meaningful vs. the Middle Man.
“Consumers want to relate to businesses in their locality and with people who they feel are part of their communities. The middle people are the people who actually make business culturally, emotionally and socially relevant to the vast number of people,” he said. “I live in Portland, Oregon, and we have a number of interesting local retailers who are competing with national brands. I think the meaningfulness of that interaction between the middle people is a really important trend.”
After pointing to statistics showing that younger Americans are almost twice as likely as older Americans to feel like they’re missing out on something when they see pictures of other people having a great time on some social media platform, Connelly asked each member of the group which category they fit into, FOMO or JOMO?
“I’m obsessively FOMO,” said Hopkins. “I’ve been working hard on this and what I find is that it takes a massive amount of discipline to not think that you can do both. I turn off on Saturdays. I really try not to pick up the Blackberry. And sometimes I’m successful. But I think that’s part of it is trying to work to lose that anxiety (over making sure) I’m getting all these text messages.”
Creekmore said the question was a tricky one for a Facebook guy to answer.
“I would say I’m a little bit of both. I do enjoy my JOMO moments. Especially when you have young kids I want to try and be present and try not to be checking my phone. So disconnecting is important to me,” he said. “That being said, I also love the benefits that this all brings – that you can connect and see friends, see what they’re up to and where they are or share an old story.”
If you could like to read the complete trend report, please click here.