Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

Today, the top sources of stress include national and global instability, and personal finances. After three years of a global pandemic, how much longer can the world weather this protracted state of uncertainty? 68% of adults reveal they are overwhelmed by all the changes they see taking place in the world.

With most people believing the worst is yet to come, consumers are taking stock of their fears, shifting accountability, reconsidering their reliance on tech, practicing escapism, and cautiously leaning into optimism while searching for inspiration and joy.

Fortunately, the majority of people believe society will be stronger in five years. So, consumers haven't given up on the notion of happily ever after – but for now they will gladly settle for some silver linings wherever they can find them.

Sheryl Connelly signature Jen Brace signature

Sheryl Connelly, Jen Brace and Ford's Global Trends + Futuring Team

- Ford Motor Company

Feelings of overwhelm and pandemic-fueled fatigue across the globe

Percent who agree

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Facing Our Fears

In an era of daily disruptions, declining institutional trust, and a worrisome economic outlook, actions to promote self-reliance are on the rise. We are taking stock of our fears. Which are imminent and posing an immediate threat, versus those that feel distant and pose an existential threat? Consumers are searching for ways to face their fears and navigate a better way forward. So, the next time the fight or flight instinct is triggered, they will at least have a game plan.

Facing our Fears animation

Taking a Stand

64% of people do not feel represented in political conversations today. While the numbers vary by country, they remain consistent across gender and generational cohorts within those countries. Political protests are giving way to consumer boycotts as most people expect brands to take a stand on social and environmental issues. Increasingly, consumers are leveraging the power of their wallets to encourage businesses to support issues that are near and dear. It will be interesting to see how far this goes. 50% of consumers even believe brands should hold employees accountable for what they say and do outside work.

Taking a Stand animation

Technology We Love and Hate

Technology continues to evolve the ways we connect with one another and how we interact with the world. People know their online behaviors are being tracked, and 73% of adults find it creepy when companies know too much about them. Yet, we don't want to stop using these tools we've come to rely on; social media helps 7 in 10 feel connected to others. There's a love-hate relationship with technology and the metaverse is poised to be the next frontier.

Technology We Love and Hate animation


With nearly seven out of 10 adults feeling overwhelmed by changes taking place in the world, it is not surprising that physical well-being and mental health are being prioritized. Mental health has become an increasing priority for all ages, particularly for the youngest generations. Over half of Gen Z indicate their own mental health is a source of stress, yet two-thirds are taking control by trying new mental health practices to cope with their fears. And people of every generation are increasingly intentional about creating space to relax and recharge, whether that’s taking a solo vacation, investing in small joys, or going out for a joy ride.

Escapism animation

Cautious Optimism

74% of adults envision what they want their future to look like and take steps to make it happen. Individuals are looking inward to find solutions to the fears and stressors of today, with each generation feeling a sense of responsibility to make changes for the better. On average, just about half of people believe society will be stronger in five years – so it’s no wonder that many feel we need more love and forgiveness in the world, with nearly eight in 10 affirming that mistakes are an opportunity to do better, rather than a punishment.

Cautious Optimism animation

The Road to Joy

People are redefining joy and finding it in everyday life. Rather than aiming for exceptional wealth, most simply want to earn enough to enjoy the things they like. Even the traditional 9-to-5 is getting a new look, with 70% feeling it’s not necessary for success. Whether it’s rolling down the windows and turning up the tunes or simply choosing to savor the moment, people are choosing joy.

The Road to Joy animation

The results for the Ford Trends 2023 survey are based on 16,120 online interviews across 16 countries. The survey was conducted among the general population, ages 18 years and older in the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States. Respondents from United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were required to be nationals of their respective countries. The United States had an additional youth sample of 352 teens (ages 14-17). While the data within countries were weighted to be representative, the overall sample of 16,120 was not weighted across countries. That is, we do not claim that aggregated data is representative based on country population sizes across the participating countries.

Region Country Sample Size
Australia 1,005
Brazil 1,006
Canada 1,004
China 1,004
France 1,005
Germany 1,003
India 1,004
Italy 1,011
Mexico 1,005
Middle East (nationals only) Saudia Arabia 509
South Africa 1007
Spain 1,006
Thailand 1,035
Middle East (nationals only) UAE 503
U.K. 1,003
U.S. 2,020
Total 16,120

We have defined generational cohorts as follows: Gen Z (18-25 years of age), Millennials (26-41 years of age), Gen X (42-57 years of age), Boomers (58-76 years of age).