If you’re feeling overwhelmed by life right now, and what COVID-19 has wrought, you’re not alone.
In a newly-released survey of 14 countries by Ford Motor Company, 69% of respondents feel overwhelmed by the changes taking place, while 53% find adapting to the changes harder than most thought. Surprisingly, younger respondents are feeling it more acutely, with 63% of Gen Zers saying that adapting has been harder than anticipated. Only 42% of Boomers said they feel the same.
Overall, less than half of all respondents, 47%, have found adapting to life with Covid-19 “easier than I imagined,” or so says a new report released today by Ford. The study focused on how consumers are adapting to life during the pandemic and the coping mechanisms they’re using to endure it.
In that regard, the ninth annual “Looking Further with Ford Trends Report” adds another layer of worry to an industry already wrangling with increased costs for labor, freight, raw materials and pandemic response, not to mention the staggering costs of developing electric and autonomous vehicles, according to a panelist of auto insiders who spoke at a recent meeting of the Society of Automotive Analysts, or SAA.
(Despite “remarkable” rebound, it’s unclear whether the economy — and the auto industry — will be fully recovered any time soon, say automotive experts.)
There’s also the added uncertainty of whether consumers struggling to pay their mortgages will also be able to pay their car loans. But the report helps provide clarity to consumer behavior during a tumultuous year.
“It’s clear that the changes brought about by COVID-19 have changed us – but to what degree?” said Sheryl Connelly, global consumer trends and futuring manager for Ford Motor Company.
“Ford and other companies are keenly interested to know what changes will stick long after COVID is in our rearview mirror.”
Certainly the report helps prepare Ford, and other companies, for what’s ahead as it confirms what so many of us live with on a daily basis.
Few will likely be surprised to hear that 63% of the respondents said they feel more stressed than a year ago, and four out of five are concerned about their emotional well-being? The reality for millions of Americans is that work/life separation has disappeared since the lockdowns of March.
Luckily for Ford and other automakers, one in four adults vehicle owners escape to their car, truck or van to relax, with one in five saying they use their vehicle for privacy. And 17% say they use it as an office. When they’re not using their automobile as another room in their home, they’re using it to escape. Being in your own vehicle allows consumers to control their travel and minimize health risks.
This helps explain the stronger than expected rebound in car sales in recent months after a deep drop-off during the spring. During the SAA conference, one panelist noted that 2020 sales, overall, will be about 1 million vehicles higher than the consensus forecast suggested mid-year.
“Those among Gen-Z are twice as likely to feel lonely due to pandemic restrictions as are Baby Boomers.”
But the Pandemic has had other effects.
As you no doubt already know, what we buy and how we buy it has been transformed, and companies have responded, with an emphasis on online shopping. Consumers like the change. Seventy-five percent worldwide prefer the changes, and 41% don’t want shopping to revert to 2019 norms. But knowing how the Pandemic has changed our commercial life and impacted low-income communities, an overwhelming number of consumers expect companies to take a stand on social issues, and think that most companies are taking the proper stance.
They also expect companies to respect sustainability, as the large increase in take-out food and other delivered goods has led to a dramatic increase in the use of plastics. Gen Zers are particularly concerned, with 46% saying that the pandemic has made us more wasteful.
But quarantines and online life has also changed our sense of family, and the need for companionship. Loneliness is pervasive. Worldwide, one in two people feel lonely, with Gen Z cohorts nearly twice as likely to feel isolated on a regular basis compared to Boomers – 64% vs 34%.
The report neatly verifies what so many of us suspected, or already knew. Still, it’s nice to know that we’re not alone in what we’re feeling, or our response to it.
“While no one can predict the future, that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for it,” Ford’s Connelly said.
The full report can be found on www.fordtrends.com.