More than two-thirds of respondents to a global survey say they feel overwhelmed by the changes taking place in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fifty-three percent of the 13,005 participating adults in the U.S. and 13 other countries said adapting to changes during the pandemic has been “harder than I imagined” and 47% said adapting has been “easier than I imagined,” according to the 2021 Further with Ford Trends Report.
The automaker’s ninth annual report focuses on how people have found ways to cope with the economic, political and emotional upheaval during 2020. People are rewriting the rules in their family life, in their social connections and in the workplace, as well as in their consumption of goods and services, the report finds.
“As we barrel into 2021 and look forward to a post-pandemic world, it’s clear that the changes brought about by COVID-19 have changed us – but to what degree?” Sheryl Connelly (below, left), Ford global consumer trends and futuring manager, says in a news release.
“Ford and other companies are keenly interested to know what changes will stick long after COVID is in our rearview mirror. And while no one can predict the future, that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for it,” she says.
The 2021 Ford Trends Report examines changing patterns in consumer behavior and attitudes around the globe to help decision makers understand how these shifts may influence our world next year and beyond.
Among other trends highlighted in the report:
- Younger generations have had more trouble dealing with the disruptions of 2020 than their older peers: 63% of Gen Z members (those born after 1997) say adapting has been harder than they imagined, compared with 42% of Boomers (born 1946-1964) who say the same.
- Worldwide, anxiety is being fueled by fears of contracting COVID-19 and concerns about the pandemic's impact on communities, employment, education and more. Sixty-three percent of adults globally say they feel more stressed than they did a year ago, and 80% say they should take better care of their emotional well-being. Awareness of the implications of the pandemic on mental health has motivated people to find innovative ways to cope and connect.
- “What day is it?” has become a catchphrase as the dividing lines between work and life disappear. To counter the monotony of the pandemic and the confines of home, consumers are looking for new ways to escape – and many are doing so in their vehicles. More than one in four of those surveyed who own a vehicle say they use their vehicle to relax; nearly 20% say they use their vehicle to find privacy; and 17% say they use it as a place to work.
- The pandemic has highlighted consumers' need for companionship and reshaped their sense of family. Loneliness is widespread globally; one in two people say they regularly feel lonely. Younger generations feel this most acutely: Gen Zers are nearly twice as likely as Boomers to say they feel lonely on a regular basis (64% vs. 34%). As a result, many are reconsidering where they live, moving close to family, and finding companionship in new ways, online and off.
- Worldwide, inequality and inequity loom large, especially considering the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on low-income communities, ethnic minorities and women. As consumers become more aware of the divide, brands are responding as activists and entrepreneurs, the report says. Seventy-six percent of survey respondents 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.
- The pandemic has changed what we seek to buy, and how we buy it. Companies big and small are rapidly adapting, and many consumers have gotten comfortable with the new normal. Three-quarters 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 pandemic may have you thinking you’re stuck, but 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.
The Ford Trends 2021 survey was conducted under the direction of The Harris Poll. The survey was conducted between Oct. 27 and Nov. 12 among the general population, ages 18 years and older, in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain, United Arab Emirates, the U.K. and the U.S.