No one saw 2020 coming the way it did…
So what does it all mean for 2021 and beyond?

As a professional futurist, I’ve long embraced the mantra that “No one can predict the future, but that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for it.” Yet even the most prepared organizations couldn’t have anticipated the pace and fury of change that unfolded over the course of 2020. Now, as we barrel into 2021 and look forward to a post-pandemic world, it’s clear that the changes have changed us. We might be nostalgic for “normal times,” but we are not who we were. We can look back – but we can’t go back.

In this year’s Further with Ford trends report, our ninth annual edition, we examine how society is adapting – how consumers, communities and businesses alike are rewriting the rules of living, working, buying, traveling and more. We’re also reflecting on past trends as a measure of how far we’ve come, and where we hope to go.

Stay safe, stay strong – and enjoy.

Sheryl Connelly

Chief Futurist

- Ford Motor Company

Pressure Points

It is a wonder that the world did not crack beneath the weight of 2020. A global pandemic with hospitals stretched to capacity. Economic fallout and a volatile stock market. Political polarization and social turmoil. Wildfires from Australia to California. Yet for all the acknowledgements of stress and feelings of being overwhelmed, people have proven remarkably resilient – and have found innovative, inspiring ways to cope and connect.


Time To Escape?

The pandemic has ripped through our perceptions of time – “What day is it?” is common refrain, with each day, week and month blurring into the next. We simultaneously have too much time, and not enough. But one thing is largely true across the globe – whether we’re bored and stir-crazy, exhausted from being stretched too thin or feeling a sense of unease, we’re all looking for inventive new ways to escape the ordinary.


The Company You Keep

The pandemic – and the ensuing isolation – has put a spotlight on our need for companionship and reshaped our sense of family: Who is in our bubble? How close must we be to those we love? And with whom and how do we combat loneliness? In these isolated times, technology is increasingly the glue for connectivity, and as work-from-home has become the new norm for many, we’ve allowed our colleagues into our homes and we’ve peered into theirs – giving new weight to the meaning of work-life balance.


Minding The Gap

Worldwide, the spotlight on inequality and inequity has intensified. It has been three years since we wrote about the pressing inequity gaps across the globe, and today, even with rising awareness and social justice activism, those gaps still loom large – exacerbated by the pandemic, which has had a disproportionate impact on low-income communities, ethnic minorities and women. As consumers become more aware of the divide, brands are stepping up as activists and entrepreneurs – experimenting with new ways to push for equity in employment, education and everyday well-being.


Good Buy

COVID has ushered in countless changes, but none more dramatic than the manner in which we shop. Whether it is purchasing goods in bulk or buying online, how we buy – and what we seek to buy – has transformed. As we bid farewell to the old rules of retail and service, companies big and small are adapting at blazing speed. And while there is some nostalgia for the old ways of shopping, many consumers are embracing and enjoying the new normal.


Traffic Detour

The pandemic may have you feeling stuck, but we are not at a standstill – personal transportation is flourishing as consumers seek out safer modes of travel. Bike sales have soared. Cities have shut down streets to make space for cyclists and walkers. And car sales have boomed as people seek security in knowing they can control their environment. Amid these changes, logistics have become trendy – the work that was once behind the scenes is now in full view as the world collectively puzzles over the operational issues that go with social distancing, safe transportation, supply chain management, vaccine distribution and more.


Sustaining Sustainability

As the world continues to struggle with a global health crisis, many have lost sight of the looming health crisis for our planet. In the early days of the pandemic, air quality emerged as a possible silver lining to the worldwide lockdown – but that optimism quickly diminished as the world retreated to plastics and other disposables. For all the talk of commitment to sustainability in recent years, society’s current vulnerabilities have made it clear that being sustainable and staying sustainable are not always in lockstep.


The results for Ford Trends 2021 are based on 13,005 online interviews across 14 countries, conducted under the direction of The Harris Poll. 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, Spain, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. Respondents from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates were required to be nationals of their respective countries; data from these two countries were combined and analyzed in aggregate. All fieldwork took place between October 27 and November 12, 2020. While the data within countries were weighted to be representative, the overall sample of 13,005 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 1,001
Brazil 1,000
Canada 1,000
China 1,000
France 1,000
Germany 1,001
India 1,000
Italy 1,000
Mexico 1,000
Spain 1,000
Middle East Saudi Arabia 501
Middle East UAE 502
UK 1,000
USA 1,000
Total 13,005

We have defined generational cohorts as follows: Gen Z (18-23), Millennials (24-39), Gen X (40-55), Boomers (56-74).