Believe it or not, but 2015 is just a few weeks away! With New Year’s Day just around the corner consumers are wondering what the hottest trends will be in the coming year. Ford’s futurist Sheryl Connelly joined me for an interview yesterday to discuss three of the top 10 global consumer trends for the new year, the impact generation Z (those 21 and under) is having on us and how they are shaping the world we live in.
Candace Rose: What are the top 10 consumer trends that you identified in your report?
Sheryl Connelly: “Well, the headlining trend for our collection for 2015 has to be making way for generation Z. I imagine you are well familiar with baby boomers, generation X and the much discussed millennials. But we wondered what’s next? What comes after millennials? So we honed in on these people that are 21 years and younger and we’re calling them generation Z.”
Candace Rose: What’s so different about generation Z versus other generations?
Sheryl Connelly: “Well, each generation has believed that when they go through their formative years, their late teens or their early 20s is when their values are set. Generally speaking, those values will stay with them irrespective of age, life stage or lifestyle, so it’s a little tricky with generation Z because they’re still so young. But the patterns we’re seeing are quite compelling. Probably the most prominent of which is that they believe that good things happen to those who act now and so they are making their mark on the world despite their youth, their lack of education, their lack of financial resources and shaping preferences not just for themselves but for people of all ages.”
Candace Rose: Are there any common themes that emerged from these micro-trends?
Sheryl Connelly: “The balance of the book, the nine were all inspired by looking at the lens of generation Z, but they are still universal to all ages. One is called the Rally for Rebels and Renegades. People around the world tell us that they admire brands that come up with unconventional solutions to traditional problems.”
Candace Rose: How do you anticipate consumer behavior changing in the year ahead compared to 2014?
Sheryl Connelly: “Well, if I illustrate the point about the Rebels and the Renegades, it’s interesting to look over time. Of course our founder Henry Ford was a rebel in his own right when he went to his local bank to get financing for the Ford Motor Company. The banker declined and said that the car was a fad and that horses were here to stay.
What we’re highlighting in this trend is that things are much easier for people who think outside the box today. Platforms like Kickstarter means that the market is better able to receive them. Social media allows us to try out ideas in ways that are quite different. For instance, Ford’s F-150 this year is made out of high strength military grade aluminum. By using this unconventional material in this built for Ford strong truck, we reduce the rate by 700 pounds while increasing the fuel economy and the offerings in terms of capabilities and functionality.”
Candace Rose: Do you see more consumers reevaluating their own lives and bucking general conventions?
Sheryl Connelly: “I think so. Another one of my favorite trends is the trend called flaunting failure. When I was younger, you made a mistake, you failed in some fashion…it was something you kept to yourself, you didn’t share it. There was a bit of a stigma associated with it. But today failure is communicated widely and without a stigma. People readily recognized that to innovate, to achieve excellence there are going to be many missed steps along the way.
We know that 90% of all startups will fail and Ford is trying to help improve the success rate. Last week we announced a problem called Techstars driven by Detroit. We are inviting startups to apply for one of 10 spots. The winner of one of those spots will be relocated to Detroit and for a year will receive not only financial support, but they’ll receive mentoring from business leaders, lessons on how to develop their business and hopefully will come up with innovations that companies like Ford might actually be able to integrate into their product offerings.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Sheryl Connelly: “Well, anyone who wants to learn more about these three trends that I’ve talked about and the seven more that are included in the book can Google it by just putting in Ford Trend Book 2015 to download the PDF for free.”
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information on everything you mentioned?
Sheryl Connelly: “Well, this book, the 2015 is available through Google, as I believe last year’s edition and 2013’s edition. It’d be interesting for perhaps some of the readers to take a look at how our point of view has evolved over time.”