Cheryl Connoly, Ford’s Manager of Global Consumer Trends and Futuring, has the job of looking at trends beyond automobiles to see what’s influencing their customers. She was recently joined by Mario Armstrong (@marioarmstrong), the Today Show’s Tech Guru, to share what she thinks is important to consumers and how those trends will affect the direction Ford will be taking in coming years.

2015 Ford Trend Report: Detroit 2015 #FordNAIAS

The pair gave an animated talk about the future of technology, both in the automobile  field and in society in general. Both agreed that tech will become an even larger part of our life and will integrate itself into our cars, homes, and wearables. In fact, Armstrong was wearing a new piece of tech throughout the talk – a small white square on his lapel which was taking photos every few minutes – a point-of-view camera –  that let’s you replay your day.

2015 Ford Trends Report: Gen Z

Every generation has been stamped with a title and the kids born after 1993 are no different. Causally coined as Gen Z, Connoly find these kids as ” key players in today’s technology-driven culture”.  These teens are expected to make up 20% or more of the world’s population and they’re digitally savvy and many are socially conscious. It’s likely they’ll define the trends just as Gen Y did before them. They will expect more from integrated technology and have never experienced life as most of us Baby Boomers have. They’ll likely be less resistant to change and enjoy the advantages technology offers.

2015 Ford Trends Report: Distracted Driving

While the Connoly and Armstrong admitted that we’ll see even more tech in cars because of the Gen Z influence, they did admit that there has to be a balance between providing services and encouraging distracted driving. Connoly noted that Ford is working on the problem of distracted driving and has already put into place a few features to allow drivers control over what they receive while driving. They offer a “Do Not Disturb” option which blocks you from receiving any notifications while you’re driving. They’ve also partnered with a free smartphone app called Life360.  I use this app myself and love it – it uses my family’s GPS to show me where they are and where they’ve been.  But users with Ford’s SYNC AppLink, have even more features available to them. They can contact their family with the touch of a button on their SYNC screen, or let their family know automatically when they’ve arrived at their destination with an auto text through the app.

2015 Ford Trends Report: Car Sharing

Ford has also recognized that the trend in borrowing or sharing cards continues to grow.  They’ve partnered with Zipcar because more people want access to a car without the expense of ownership, especially younger adults and those in college. They’re also looking at other ways to move people including autonomous vehicles which may reduce car crashes caused by distracted driving and tired drivers.

2015 Ford Trends Report: Wrap Up

Was there anything unexpected in the Ford report? Not really. They found that people gravitate to rouge companies, those that seem edgy and non-mainstream. But that’s been a trends for decades. What’s hip and cool gets a lot of attention and then after time it becomes the staid and tired brand. They also found that more of us are determining our family based on our preferences and not blood. Again, not surprising. But I guess what I took away from the talk is that change is our future. Accepting that we’ll always be learning and moving forward in tech, family, and life, will make it easier to get along in this new tech-enabled society we call home.

What did you find interesting in the 2015 Ford Trends Report?

Graphics provided and reprinted with permission from Ford.