Ford Trends Report Finds Consumers Resilient

This post was previously published in an earlier edition of DriveTime.

While a majority of adults globally say they feel overwhelmed by the changes taking place in the world, when asked how well they have adapted to the changes during the pandemic, 47% say it has been “easier than I imagined.”

Younger generations have taken the pandemic harder than their older peers: 63% of Gen-Zers say adapting has been harder than they imagined, vs. 42% of boomers who say the same.

That’s according to the ninth annual “Looking Further with Ford Trends Report” that explores how consumers are adapting to life during the pandemic.

Ford focuses on global trends each year to gain insight into how consumers are changing, what the business needs to understand about shifting consumer behaviors and what comes next in terms of connecting with them; the report reflects on past trends as a measure of how far we’ve come and where we hope to go, according to the automaker. 

COVID-19 has wrought economic, political and emotional chaos, testing the limits of healthcare systems and whole sectors of society, according to the automaker. Yet as the report highlights, the global pandemic also reveals just how resilient people can be in finding ways to cope.

Ford and other companies are interested to know what changes will stick after COVID-19, said Sheryl Connelly, manager, global consumer trends and futuring.

Worldwide, anxiety continues to be high, fueled by fears of contracting the virus and concerns about the pandemic's impact on communities, employment and education. A majority (63%) of adults globally say they feel more stressed than they did a year ago, and four in five say they should take better care of their emotional well-being. Acutely aware of the implications of the pandemic on mental health, people are finding innovative ways to cope and connect.

To beat back the monotony of the pandemic and the confines of home, consumers are looking for new ways to escape. Many are seeking refuge in their vehicles. More than one in four adults globally who own a vehicle say they use their vehicle to relax. Close to one in five say they use their vehicle to find privacy. And 17% say they use it as a place to work, according to the report.

While many businesses have been hard hit, personal transportation is flourishing. Bike sales have soared and cities have shut down streets to make space for cyclists. Car sales have boomed as people seek security in knowing they can control their environment. And smart city planning is accelerating the way for fully implemented autonomous driving. Sixty-seven percent of adults globally say they are “hopeful about the future of autonomous vehicles,” and 68% of parents say they’d rather see their children ride in a self-driving car than with a stranger.

Gaps in equality loom large, particularly as the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on low-income communities, ethnic minorities and women. As consumers become more aware of the divide, brands are stepping up as activists and entrepreneurs. More than three-quarters (76%) of adults globally say they expect brands to take a stand on social issues -- and 75% say they think brands today are trying to do the right thing.

Amid the pandemic, how we buy -- and what we seek to buy -- has transformed, according to the survey. Companies big and small are adapting at blazing speed – and many consumers are embracing and enjoying the new normal. Seventy-five percent of adults globally say they appreciate the ways in which companies have improved the shopping experience since the pandemic began – and 41% say they don’t want to go back to the way they shopped before the pandemic.

The results for Ford Trends 2021 are based on 13,005 online interviews across 14 countries, conducted under the direction of The Harris Poll. The survey was conducted among the general population, ages 18 years and older. All fieldwork took place between Oct. 27 and Nov. 12.

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