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Ford issues 2015 trends report; the emergent role of Generation Z

Ford has issued its third annual trends report, a compilation of consumer research and insights from thought leaders around the world, which is intended to provide a look at micro-trends expected to influence products and brands for 2015 and beyond. From the growing influence of young, socially conscious consumers, to a greater acceptance of modern-day rebels and a shifting perspective that de-stigmatizes failure, Ford Motor Company’s trend report suggests 2015 will be marked by a broad desire to enact change for the good.

The Looking Further with Ford 2015 report pays particular attention to the role of Generation Z—roughly defined as those born after 1993. Generation Z, which follows the Millennials, is the first truly global generation, born into an on-demand, technology-driven culture. Expected to account for more than 20% of the world’s population, these digitally savvy, socially conscious consumers, most of whom are still teenagers, are working to help define the trends of both today and tomorrow, Ford says.

While demographics are invariably a factor in futuring work, what’s driving our report for 2015 is this emerging Generation Z consumer, who is already inspiring attitudes and behaviors in consumers of all ages. We saw similar traits with Millennials, but Gen Z consumers—being much more connected and aware of the options available to them—are the global go-getters who have a link to each of our 10 micro-trends for 2015.

—Sheryl Connelly, Ford global consumer trend and futuring manager

As the Generation Z consumer evolves, Ford is looking at how these behaviors and trends will affect every part of the automotive business—from vehicle development to the experience customers will expect when the time comes to purchase or own a vehicle.

Despite issues such as climate change, privacy threats, epidemic disease and geopolitical strife, the Ford report detects optimism.

In preparing trend reports, Ford analysts monitor shifts in social, technological, economic, environmental and political arenas to understand what drives consumer attitudes and behaviors, and how this impacts the automotive category. The insights gathered guide Ford designers and engineers in developing future Ford products, as well as Ford marketers on what to anticipate in terms of the customer shopping and ownership experience of emerging generations.

The 10 trends Ford expects to influence consumers and brands in 2015 and beyond include:

  1. Make Way for Gen Z: With considerable pressure and high expectations, Gen Z’s mantra is simple: “Good things come to those who act.” Compared to Gen Y, Gen Z is 55% more likely to start business and hire others and 54% more likely to say they want to have an impact on the world. 64% of Gen Z is considering an advanced college degree, versus 71% of Millenials.

    Gen Z’ers are adept and self-directed researchers: 52% use social media or YouTube for research assignments; 33% watch lessons online; 32% collaborate with classmates online; and 20% read textbooks on tablets.

  2. Rally for Renegades and Rebels: Society has always loved risk takers, but the marketplace has never been more receptive to those who push boundaries and break molds.

    In China, 63% of adults under the age of 35 agree with the statement: “In today’s society, it’s better to be a rebel than it is to follow conventional rules.” In the US, 44% agree. Worldwide, 82% of adults agree with: “I admire unconventional solutions to problems.”

  3. Flaunting Failure: The stigma of failure is quickly eroding; in an era of constant change, the only true failure is a failure to try, to improve, to evolve.

    Sample percentages of adults aged 35 and older who agree with the statement “Today, the stigma of failure has disappeared” include: 57% in Germany; 55% in Japan; 47% in China; 37% in the US; and 23% in Brazil.

    The percentages of adults who agree with “Experience is more important than education” include 79% in Japan; 72% in China; and 66% in the US.

  4. Carryless Movement: Today’s consumers don’t want to carry things and, increasingly, don’t need to. New technologies such as wearable gadgets and smartphone apps are transforming the mechanics of how consumers pay for goods and services, how and where marketers reach their customers, and who people trust with their most valuable information.

    45% of Millennials say they’d be comfortable connecting their payment information to a wearable device to make fast, hassle-free payments. As of June 2013, there were more than 61 million active mobile money accounts worldwide; by 2017, there are expected to be 450 million mobile payment users.

    In the US and UK, 7% of adults ages 35+ made a payment using a mobile app in the last year, while 26% of Millenials did.

    More than 1 million people activated Apple Pay within the first 72 hours of the debut of the service.

  5. No Strings Attached: In a world where innovation moves so rapidly, no one wants to be left behind with a product that has become outdated or obsolete. The result is an emerging a la carte mentality that trumpets access over ownership.

    In the US, 64% think sharing lowers environmental impact, and 76% think sharing saves money. 73% of adults worldwide say “I would rather have a few useful possessions than many possessions.”

    37% of US adults ages 18 to 25 in 2013 said they chose to rent a product rather than purchase it.

    US adults under age 35 are 63% more likely to agree than adults ages 35+ that “The share economy allows me to take more risks.”

  6. Expanding Next of Kin: As traditional families and communities become less the norm, the concept of family is adapting, expanding and evolving in a most personal fashion.

    In the US, just 20% of households fit the conventional definition of “nuclear family,” a decrease from 40% in 1970.

  7. Give and Take of Privacy: Privacy has become a delicate balancing act, and there is a trade-off between information consumers are willing to share and the benefits they receive in exchange.

    78% of Millennials and 59% of older internet users expressed a wish for privacy. 26% of of teen social media users say they post fake information on their profile to help protect their privacy.

    In the US, 73% agree that “As a society, we have given up on the concept of privacy.” 64% in Germany agree; 39% in China; and 31% in Japan.

  8. Elusive Health: A decentralized effort to inform consumers about healthier lifestyle habits has led to confusion and a global population getting heavier and sicker. Consumers need a clear signal amid the noise to translate the information into action.

    Between 2008 and 2013, obesity in the population ages 15+ rose 92% in Vietnam; 57% in China; and 37% in India. 47% of Gen Z kids will be obese by the time they reach adulthood.

    48% of Americans believe it is easier to figure out how to do their own taxes than to figure out how to eat healthy; 54% agree that enjoying their food is more important than worrying about what’s in it.

    63% of all global deaths are caused by chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, and mental illness, among others. 80% of premature deaths from cardiovascular diseases worldwide could be prevented through a healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoiding the use of tobacco.

  9. Escape Artist: In today’s 24/7 culture, the desire to get away mentally and physically remains compelling. People are increasingly seeking out immersive adventures, elevating escapism to a fine art.

    62% of adults under age 35 worldwide say that they seek experiences they feel can’t be replicated.

  10. Many Faces of Mobility: In an age of constant innovation, mobility is outpacing the definition of the word as the concepts of transportation and communication converge.

    70% of adults globally say that they are open to unconventional methods of transportation. 74% of adults globally say that when they are in transit they try to use that time to accomplish something else.



I do not believe it for a moment.
An under-20 generation of ephemeral dreaming, untraveled naiveté, and simplism based on wikipedia articles and blog posts. Utterly without grit, duty, attention span, or self-driven motivation. A generation of incredible flexibility but no stability nor interest in personal property/commitment before the age of 35. The auto and work world ahead for them will be one of incredible desperation -or- surprising serendipity.

On the chancy positive: With possible cheap electric cars and increased decentralization of power, data, and work, this generation may take their entrepreneurialism and all its empowerment on the road without boundaries, gathering income, experience, and networks everywhere. Families will be small, unstructured and based on tight-knit relationships only. Few will save for retirement or purchase property. This is the best possible of worlds for them.

The contra-flip is a world of rebounded oil prices (> $120), expensive and limited EVs, trapped by lack of opportunity living at home, crushing environmental regulation, Baby boomers and X-gens working well into their 70s and 80s, confined in a world of fake digital experiences and near-useless $100k degrees and internet-post-secondary education. They are the lost generation with low incomes, disinterest in technology, consumerism, and innovation - they cling to a 60s culture of humanism and disenfranchised activism. An endless stream of right-wing politics and the rise of eastern europe and China means work and pay for the connected and influential (i.e. born before 1980) in the G7 only with little care for environmental or social development beyond 1st world self-interest. They will be healthy and bright, but contribute little. They may have strong communities - but it will be activist-driven rather than mutually-growth supported and driven.

Society will continue to develop and enrich itself through baby-boomer and Gen-x interest primarily - focused on multi-vehicle and high-tech EVs/FCVs, city/country homes, and self-absorbed tech. The family business/corp and multi-generational home will strengthen and proliferate with concentrated wealth and increased inequity. But overall wealth and growth will still continue but within fewer persons and narrower life philosophies. Climate change will rage outside of the protected enclosures of those who chose to advance their societies to G7 levels by the 2040s. Climate change will only be a disadvantage to those few billion unable/unwilling to adapt. Though cheap decentralized electricity and google search engine results are available everywhere. The Gen-Zs and millennials will be very activist and be punished and limited in their influence, for it - for better or worse - in areas they thought less important - access to wealth and cities in which they can afford to live and work. A polarized world that will favour the connected and those that persevere - punishing the activist, anti-technology-ist, and non-planner. Vehicle miles will increase along with EV/FCV RVs, though total LDVs may stagnate. Electricity will plateau and decentralize somewhat. China will have top GDP per capita by mid-century with largest number of cars per capita and high-speed train track miles per capita at that time. With the lowest GHGs and pollution levels, China will be re-define political 'effectiveness', growth, and technological prowess. Unlike Japan, foreign millenials and Gen-Zers will find opportunity and cultural refuge in China's high tech planned society. This generation will find a technological, political, and socio-economic world unlike any other generation with less overall wealth but greater variety. Car makers would do well to focus on Baby boomers, Gen X-ers (many of who will inherit), Asia, and larger multi-purpose EV for the coming generation - hope Ford will see the truth before it needs to get bailed out in 2025.


Lettering fictitious generations is a hype that makes advertisers believe that they are doing something important. Kids have not changed much in the last 60 years. b


Perhaps it could be summarised as:
the kids have smartphones and don't need (or want) cars so much.

So fewer car sales expected (In the USA and Europe)

It will be a different story in the developing world as they have so few cars (but they are getting smartphones by the million).

So there will be plenty of cars to be sold over the next 30 years - just not so many (per capita) in the developed world.

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