New year, new trends…

However, the picture is gloomy. loneliness, uncertainty and the importance of trust are dominant themes in ford motor company’s latest trends report

The Ford Motor Company’s recently released Trends Report – the eighth annual forecast produced by the company – has some gloomy news. Major indicators show that people today feel overwhelmed with the changes they see taking place in the world – and they’re having a harder time trusting brands and connecting with peers than they did in the past.

High on the agenda is climate change, with 58 percent of adults globally indicating that they feel more despair than hope when it comes to environmental influences – yet less than half are committed to taking action when it comes to choosing green transportation methods.

Also, 45 percent of adults globally say they feel lonely on a regular basis, signaling an opportunity for companies and brands to help people find comfort and connection.

In an age of constant connectivity, consumers today feel more alone than ever – and find it harder to trust their peers and companies. In this respect, the report identifies trust as a dominant global theme and explores how companies are earning it back.

“The rate of change globally has been on the rise – and without the trust in the institutions, brands and peers to rely on, a majority of people are feeling extremely overwhelmed,” says Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s Global Consumer Trends and Futuring Manager. “Consumers want to believe that companies are doing the right thing, but companies also need to give them a clear reason to do so.”

Surveying 14 countries across the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, the report suggests that people’s ability to trust peers, communities, elected officials and businesses has a crucial impact on their day-to-day lives. Other consumer trends revealed in the report:

• The green paradox: Worldwide, consumers are increasingly worried about climate change. Yet, that worry isn’t translating into urgency – 64 percent of people who aren’t changing their behaviour to help fight climate change say they think they can’t make a difference;

• Call to stand: People are asking brands to move from a product-based mindset to a values-based mindset – though it doesn’t always impact their decision to buy. Fifty-nine percent of adults globally say they care more about purchase convenience than brand values;

• All alone: Loneliness has become an epidemic of global proportions. Loneliness is particularly prevalent among young people – 62 percent of Generation Z respondents globally agree with the statement: “I feel lonely on a regular basis” and 50 percent agree “I often feel lonely when I’m around other people”.

• Below the surface: There’s growing interest in the unseen elements of building consumer trust. Consumers want to believe that companies are doing the right thing, but they need to see behind the curtain to believe it. Sixty-seven percent of adults globally agree that “once a brand loses my trust, there is no getting it back”.

• Great expectations: As internet commerce grows, so do expectations for brands, with 67 percent of adults globally agreeing with the statement “I have higher expectations for brands than I did in the past”.

• Identity matters: Conversations and language around identity are evolving — more specifically, understanding that identities are built from both visible attributes and invisible ones, like sexual identity, ancestry, religion and more. Only 67 percent of adults globally say “I understand the concept of gender fluidity”.

• The second time around: New upcycle companies around the globe have modernised resale shopping. The so-called re-commerce movement is on the rise for sophisticated and market-savvy shoppers, breathing new life into previously owned fashion pieces, appliances, electronics, household items and other goods — and more and more consumers are opting in. Sixty percent of adults globally agree “I am more open to buying used goods than I was five years ago”.

In this respect, perhaps South Africa is ahead of the trend – more second-hand vehicles, including trucks, were reportedly sold in the country last year than previously…

Wynter Murdoch

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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