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Ford 2018 trends report underscores how consumers, companies cope in uncertain times

Sheryl Connelly, Ford global consumer trends and futuring manager.
People worldwide feel increasingly polarized by cultural and societal changes. More than 60 percent of adults globally say they feel overwhelmed by unrest in the world.
The “2018 Looking Further with Ford Trends Report” examines not only the issues dividing the world, but also the coping mechanisms born as a result of compassion and guilt to heightened activism. According to the sixth annual study, 76 percent of adults globally say they believe their actions can influence positive change.
“There’s no doubt we’re living in interesting times,” said Sheryl Connelly, Ford global consumer trends and futuring manager. “Shifting global priorities, rampant political upheaval, and a spotlight on social inequity have upended the status quo and left many feeling disoriented. But out of the chaos and conflict, a new energy and creativity is motivating people like never before.”

Key highlights from the report
l 68 percent of adults are overwhelmed by suffering in the world today, and 51 percent feel guilty for not doing more to make the world better.
l 81 percent of adults say they are concerned about the widening gap between the rich and the poor.
52 percent of 18- to 29-year-old adults say they expect brands to take a stand on political issues.
73 percent of adults say they should take better care of their emotional well-being, and 57 percent say they get less sleep each night than they should.
Top trends for 2018 as listed by Ford include:
1. The Edge of Reason: Global upheaval is evident in everything from politics to pop culture; and, people are responding to these changes in polarized fashion. As divisiveness grows, open dialogue diminishes and the sense of being overwhelmed intensifies. Consumers are hungry for inventive ways to cope and adapt.
2. The Activist Awakening: Thanks to the culture of polarization, consumers are being jolted out of complacency. Conventional wisdom and expectations are being toppled as individuals debate the change we need.
3. Minding the Gap: Worldwide, the spotlight is on inequality. Activists and entrepreneurs are experimenting with new ways to improve access to quality education, increase productive employment, close wage gaps, and provide everyone with affordable access to basic living standards and infrastructure.

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