Automobiles are a long-lead business. It takes years to get a car to market, and because of that, carmakers need a crystal ball to gaze into, lest the sands of consumer desire shift out from under their feet. Ford has just released its 2013 Trend report, and the word from Dearborn is that things are looking up for 2013.

According to Ford, we're collectively coming out of a crisis-induced haze of negativism and entering a new phase of self-reliant trust in ourselves and each other while still remaining skeptical of big institutions. It's kind of like Ford is saying, "Hey, we're glad you're over it... oh, and by the way, it wasn't our fault. Buy our cars."

Ford's report notes that people want brands they think care about them, deliver good value and honest dealing. If they don't get what they want, consumers will call out corporations via newly powerful social media channels and consumer action. Ford says it's not that customers expect perfection all the time, but trusted brands react with grace and candor when there is a problem, solving it swiftly and helping to reinforce that sense of connection and authenticity that Ford says we all want. That should be helpful as Ford grapples with recent recalls.

There's more in the report, most of which sounds like Ford took a survey course in 2012 customers. Even so, these forehead-smackingly-obvious revelations might actually educate the insulated and out-of-touch about the zeitgeist of the nation. Or not. Check out the report yourself (in PDF) here.

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