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Ford 2017 trends report: disruption the status quo, “never more difficult” to find objective information

For the past five years, Ford has issued an annual trend report exploring societal shifts expected to influence consumers and brands (e.g., earlier post). The reports have focused on microtrends in consumer behavior; the fifth anniversary edition report—Looking Further with Ford: 2017 Trends—revisits three that surfaced in earlier reports, and highlights seven that are emerging.

Sheryl Connelly, Ford global trend and futuring manager, says there is no escaping the fact that disruption is now the status quo. At a time in which truthfulness tends to be subjective, two-thirds of adults say it never has been harder to find objective, fact-based information, while just 55% say what they put on social media is what they really think. An abundance of choice matched with uncertainty in the marketplace is bringing about a reluctance to commit—giving rise to a “sampling society” that prioritizes trying over buying .

As an introduction, Ford notes that at the cusp of what is shaping up to be one of the most—if not the most—dynamic time in the transportation business, consumers are at a crossroads. Change is the only constant, as the world seems to be in a perpetual state of flux. With truth and accountability front and center, consumers are rethinking priorities and changing how they define prosperity, value material possessions and use their time.

Key findings from this year’s report include:

  • With a heightened focus on truth and transparency, roughly two-thirds of adults worldwide say it has never been more difficult to find information that is objective. As information can be contradictory, consumers are confronted with a decider’s dilemma—and ultimately, end up conflicted by the choices they make.

  • Establishing relationships built on trust never has been more daunting—making trust the most precious of assets.

  • Consumers increasingly are holding themselves—and others—accountable for making the right decisions for society at large.

  • Globally, consumers are finding more joy in less, and taking advantage of access-over-ownership service models.

  • An abundance of choice in the marketplace is impacting attitudes toward commitment.

  • In an on-demand world, patience has become less of a virtue; there now are more ways to rationalize how we spend our time—rather than declaring it “wasted”.

The three revisited trends are:

  • Trust Is the New Black (2013): In the first report, coming in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Ford wrote that the social contract as it had been known had been broken, and people’s mistrust of corporations, governments and media was making integrity a new, rare form of competitive advantage.

    Now, where truth was once held to be indisputable, it increasingly tends to be heavily influenced by perception—and reinforced by like-minded viewpoints.

    Oxford Dictionaries recently selected “post-truth” as 2016’s international word of the year, defining it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less in influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

    The new Ford report notes that 80% of adults globally agree that social media is more about optics than substance, and the 65% agree that people today are less likely to consider opposing viewpoints.

  • The Female Frontier (2014): Three years ago, Ford wrote about the upsurge in recognition across women and men alike that rigid gender constructs hinder cultural, social and economic development. 78% of people across the globe say women have more opportunities today than they did three years ago.

    However, the World Economic Forum’s 2016 report on the global gender gap attests that “more than a decade of data has revealed that progress is still too slow for realizing the full potential of one half of humanity within our lifetimes.”

    The Ford survey found that 82% of adults agree that women and men are still not viewed as equals. But women globally—long with many of their male counterparts—are resolving to push for gender parity.

  • Sustainability Blues (2014): The 2014 trend book addressed the world’s increasing concerns about water. This trend has not subsided. In 2015, the World Economic Forum declared the water crisis to be the most devastating risk to society and now, it looms even larger. Sri Lanka, São Paulo and the US were devastated by floods this year. Further, Flint, Michigan, is a reminder that water contamination is as pressing an issue for developed nations as it is for emerging ones.

    1.8 billion people around the world—nearly 25% of the global population—don’t have access to safe water. An estimated 2/3 of the world’s population may face water shortages by 2025.

The other micro-trends highlighted in the Ford report include:

  • The Good Life 2.0: Bigger isn’t always better, and ownership does not equate with happiness. Consumers are finding joy in less, where “good” encompasses not just possessions, but also experiences and values.
  • Time Well Spent: In an on-demand world, punctuality is a dying art and procrastination can be a strength. Conventional ideas about time—and the rules that go with it—often are discarded.

  • 72% of adults globally agree that the their definition of wasting time is different than in the past. Adults are also agreeing that they are more impatient than in the past, with the highest percentage of those (63%) in the 18-29 years of age group.

  • Decider’s Dilemma: With the internet, consumers face an abundance of choice—impacting their attitudes toward commitment. Products and services are adapting to accommodate a “sampling society” that prioritizes trying over buying.

    47% of adults aged 18-29 globally agree that new sharing services make it easier to avoid commitment.

  • Tech Spiral: In many ways, tech has made life more convenient and efficient, yet consumers are beginning to grapple with its downside—from lower attention spans and retention capacities to allowing their gadgets to do their thinking for them.

    The more we read, it often feels, the less we know. There is an underbelly to technology that has become increasingly apparent to users, who are now beginning to grapple with the impact. Majorities world-wide agree that the quest to find “something better” is never-ending; that sentiment is the highest in China (94%). By contrast, US agreement with that clocks in at 78%.

    Strong majorities find that information found online is frequently contradictory. That sentiment in strongest among the 18-29 age group: 80%.

  • Championing Change: Ford found that increasingly, we are holding each other—and ourselves—accountable for making the right decisions for society at large. 47% agreed that individual consumers had to most power to effect positive change; 28% put that with governments; and only 17% said that companies did. 8% chose “none of the above”.

  • The Parent Trap: As parenting styles proliferate, so does judgment – yet parents are more open and forthcoming about their struggles, looking to their peers for empathy and advice.

  • Community Ties: Today, community takes on various forms, shapes and sizes as citizens, educators, economic leaders and governments act in concerted, coordinated ways to build societies that give members purpose and hope.

    88% of women and 83% of men globally agreed they were more likely to support companies that prioritize purpose over profit.



I want a cheap gas serial hybrid for Christmas.


truthfulness isn't "subjective". That is nonsense.

Dr. Strange Love

This article is noise. Ms. Connelly is paid to push gibberish. I think what she is saying is the Commoner has his head glued to his IPhone and is not capable of making reasonable "Manly" decisions.


Nowhere does the author say that truth is subjective, she rightly points out that different folks see things from different perspectives and may well reach different conclusions.
She brings relevant trending social perceptions to page and reports but does not proscribe.

All manufactures especially those with longer lead times need to know consumer (as well as technology) trends as many failed co's can attest.
Her conclusions are similar to other large auto co's I.E. Volkswagen and Audis versatile modular "skateboard" platform along with many if not most others.

Oxford dictionary is not out to make value judgements but to report on new concepts/ words and changes in english language.To make 'word of the year often reflects a strong change in perception but especially wide and common usage.

"Oxford Dictionaries recently selected “post-truth” as 2016’s international word of the year, defining it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less in influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”"

Judge for yourself if we see things differently, is a perfect example of the topic.

Dr. Strange Love

Keep the Enter/Info-tainment separate from the rest of the vehicles control systems. This is all Ms. Connelly had to say. But she needs a job, she has mouths to feed, and hence the intelligent sounding nonsense.

This is not an article to argue how 2016 has become the year where Lying is acceptable. No doubt that Mr. Trump made this the norm. Forget about objective verse subjective in this sense.

While Commoner is not all that well educated in the Hard Sciences, he is not dumb when it comes to the things they value which is their I-Technology and where to get their Fix/Trend satisfied (Starbucks and the like). The Commoner does not care about Autonomous or any of that stuff which does not satisfy their Hurd mental capabilities. They forget about the health of Mother Earth as long as they are satisfied. This Article is more about the Whimsical nature of the Commoner and the Stupid stuff that the Commoner values, like valuing social media over the latest discovery in Quantum Field Theory.


I didn't realize this trend was global, but it sure is a trend in the U.S. for the youth. First our education system really pollutes their thinking. They push the narrative that these kids are way smarter than older generations that have less computer skills. Also, they are amazing creatures worthy and capable of anything with the knowledge and perceptions gained. While this is typical stuff, the corruption is at a all time high to disrespect the value and ideals of older generations. To much indoctrination of entertainment with the value of "Friends" sharing everything. A career seems to be a dirty selfish ambition with to many attempting to live on the cheap with part time work. Baby Boomers are enablers. Lots of popular media to confirm that they can live on the dime and not work. That being poor is a virtue and a smart choice to maximize social services benefits and play the victim. To many care only of their online popularity and quickly adapt to what ever their group declares worthy. It may be Starbucks, Toyota, or Bernie. Truth is relative to ones personal biases and since they believe they are the greatest, their self worth couldn't endure a open discussion with opposing viewpoints. They hate to be rated or told what to do by a boss. They are smarter.

I do think it is very bad to provide to much support for the developing youth. That they should avoid the classic teacher education system. Better to learn to be more self reliant and work for it. Best to be surrounded by diverse society then gain a false sense of reality by 12 to 16 years of hormone maximized mates that feed into each other's biases and high worthiness. Not much humility in this group for evaluating outsiders. They demand to be stroked.

Iv'e read to many stats on this group and don't know what the future will hold for the country? Ford appears to struggle as well with a path forward to make money. I saw an NPR series where this group enjoyed immense pleasure with a future of walking to neighboring villages to partake in local grown food with home made wine. That they enjoy life with no need of money or what money could buy. By the way they looked at each other I expected a good old fashioned Roman orgy to break out after the free wine. Sad.


I would have said that there are at least three trends coming:

a: Electric cars

b: Autonomous cars

c: Shared ownership / ride sharing.

a: Is probably not a big deal as they are < 1% and not growing very quickly (despite the hype).

b: is a big deal as it has definite utility and a very useful luxury addition (who needs 0-60 in 3 seconds if the car can drive itself).

c: is a big deal as it may shrink the overall market with everyone losing ground (certainly in dense cities).

I think Avs are coming faster than anyone anticipated and will appear all over the place within 2 years. They may not appear in densely populated or quirky cities (San Fransisco / Delhi / Naples) for a while, but may find application on more open roads, especially motorways and dual carriageways.

So Ford will have to find a way to get into that space in time, perhaps by using the Google system (as Honda are doing).

Brent Jatko

In other words, everything's gone crazy, truth doesn't matter any more (thanks to Trump and the idiots that voted him into office), and the future is hard to predict.

At least Gor is consistent with what he seems to want, so that's saying something.

Happy 2017 and I hope we all make it through!

Dr. Strange Love

When will there be a car company that will give us what we need and not what we want, all models less than $20k. Their vehicles have Go pedal and Stop pedal. Their vehicles have no bling, no phoophoo, and bare minimum electronics. Honda and Toyota were once like this.


When 99+ % is busy with the transmission of lies and insignificant news, the other 1% will reap higher and higher profits.

When over 99% of the wealth is in the hands of a very small group (less than 1%), democracy and elections will become meaningless. Bigger lies and drugs will be used to keep the 99+ % happy.

Re-distribution of the wealth will be difficult but is usually done fast (in a few years) followed by unstable times.

Can low cost electric vehicles, ADVs and shared vehicles stop the inevitable?


What Harvey is commenting about- I do see a very jaded citizenry that consumes much with little to show for it. They satiate themselves with products that are marketed to them for instant gratification at a huge long term cost. As a country we have lost our way with finances and long term personal goals. I will say Dave Ramsey is really hitting this problem hard. The book of Proverbs is a historic study on foolishness and ways to avoid tragedy within our lives. It's never been an easier time in history to live a fulfilled life. I do believe our federal institutions and politics are the biggest culprit to trick public and their actions are so corrosive to quality of life. Sad, that the original mission of government actions were to improve the life enjoyment. Instead the whole system is maximized to allow politician control and power. They long ago quit working for us. They do stoke up anger and direct anger to gain yet more power over our lives. If we ever simplified the "system" and placed priority upon wisdom, freedom, private sector, small business, etc. we would truly enjoy life more. Gov't is very poor device to do so. Every division of every gov't should be evaluated on simplicity, value of their service, and be set upon a course to do needed gov't actions with more efficiency, lower cost, least disruption of our lives. Same for our laws and regulations. A regular review to rate the benefit and explore better ways to accomplish goals, especially if private citizens can be motivated to make the change. Improve the morality and responsibility of citizens. I wouldn't be a perfect system, but on the whole a much better way forward. Morality, responsibility, and better education is the solution. The rest will take care of itself. We need a system that moves citizens naturally to this positive development. For an example, spending fortunes on Public Ed system is just wrong headed. We need a new system to develop citizenry, not ever more powerful political shenanigans.

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