Ford Trend Research
I was toying with the idea of a new car recently and did my usual thorough research on the companies behind the vehicles. As it turned out, I didn’t buy a new car, but I did learn something very interesting about one of the companies.
An Automotive Company Implementing Positive Change
Ford Motor Company has been around for more than a century. Every year the company conducts trend research with the goal of implementing positive change in the world. Their trend research does not try to predict the future; rather, it’s a tool to challenge the status quo and get people to think differently about how the future might evolve.
The majority of their time and expenses are spent on Macro trends, slow-moving things like aging population or urbanization – things that will be important for decades to come. But they also look at what’s developing at the moment, Micro trends, with a shorter shelf life of two to five years.
Peering into the Future
One of the recent trends they looked at they call “The Edge of Reason.” They analyzed how our society has become polarized; the willingness to engage in polite debate seems to have been destroyed completely. Three-fourths of the people they interviewed said they still believed that as individuals, they have the ability to create positive change. So, they looked into what causes people to change. They spoke to over 13,000 people in 14 countries, and found that nearly 90% of people said that hope is what drives change. But close to 15% also said that fear is a factor in driving change. Likewise, 70% of people said they were energized by change, but a full third said that they are frightened by change itself, and would rather keep the status quo, even if the change were for the good.
Technology’s Two Faces
I think we can agree that technology is one of the key drivers of change. Another trend they looked at they called “The Tech Divide.” It describes how technology is moving at an unprecedented pace in terms of growth, spread and overall global effect. However, it was pretty universal that people wonder about good change or bad change. For instance, Google can use some of its Artificial Intelligence to study satellite data about where fishing is taking place to make sure it’s happening legally. That’s good. The UAE in Dubai that wants to test the DNA of its 3 million residents to create a genomic database. Not sure about this one. Having that information can be extraordinary if you think about what you can do, what you can have, or what you can discover. At the same time, people wonder if they should share their information. Is it actually going to be used for good or if it will boomerang and somehow be used against them?
Another trend was labeled “Eco-Momentum.” Sustainability is a mainstream topic, but activism levels vary greatly. Some people are proud to be in the vanguard, while others simply refuse to change their behavior. If the population continues to grow at its current rate and we hit 9 billion people by the year 2040, then how will we have to change our lifestyle? There’s already a water shortage in many parts of the world, and that will soon tip over to food. They asked this question: “Would you change the way you ate if you thought it would help the planet?” Australia came in at 60%, China came in at 84%, Brazil at 82% and Canada came in at 66%. From an automotive standpoint, Ford is focusing on where they can make the most impact, and how they can implement more sustainability on the roads.
Another thing they’ve discovered is that people are warming to the idea of autonomous vehicles. The majority of people they spoke to believe autonomous vehicles are safer than those driven by human beings. So, Ford has begun to work with cities to figure out how to make that happen.
No, I didn’t purchase a Ford, but I really like what that company is doing for us and our planet.