This week, Ford presented the results of its first-ever future trend study, a comprehensive research effort that offers insights on consumer thinking, values and attitudes the automaker believes will impact their decision-making processes and purchase behavior in 2013 and beyond. The result of years of distilled trend research that included input from various "thought leaders" from around the world, "Looking Further with Ford" considered influences from the social, technological, economic, environmental and political arenas in coming to its conclusions.

According to Sheryl Connelly, Global Trends & Futuring manager for Ford, the insights culled from this undertaking "will help Ford in our role as an innovator to create products that not only exceed consumers' expectations, but that push the boundaries of imagination. Ford is more than just a car company, we are also a 'lifestyle enabler,' and our work in trends and futuring is meant to help our customers achieve just that."

Among its findings "Looking Further with Ford" discovered no fewer than 13 micro trends anticipated to become more prominent for 2013. These included: Trust is the new Black, The Economics of Local Pride, Help Me Help Myself, Defying Distraction, Return to Your Senses and Post-Green. However, it also noted three key major trends to understanding what consumers will be responding to whether in automotive or any other purchase arena.

Heading the triumvirate of prevailing themes on Ford's Looking Further list is the finding that trust is a main differentiator in cultivating brand equity, with the data indicating correlation between these two elements has increased by 35 percent since 2009. The second major trend involves the assertive rise of personal accountability - as well as a level of comfort with the possibility of failure. That factor portends greater numbers of individuals "taking risks, blazing their own paths and reshaping conventions." Rounding out the mix is the finding that collective empowerment is booming. Because of that reality, more individuals are relying on others for support in formulating goal and objectives as well as making decisions, both on a personal level and when it comes to guidance regarding larger issues that impact society in general. One particularly notable factoid: 85 percent of respondents agreed that "problems are better solved by local communities than the national government."

According to Ford, the global data contained in the Looking Forward study suggests that 2013 will be one "marked by acceptance and optimism rather than mistrust and disappointment."

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