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CHICAGO – Today’s successful companies are those that understand the concept of “simplexity,” Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co. president-The Americas, says.

He defines simplexity as “the state that exists when something is both simple and complex at the same time.”

Companies such as Apple Computer Inc. get it, and Ford is adopting its upcoming strategies around the concept, Fields says.

“Consumers are begging us for help in navigating through the dizzying pace of technological change and information overload,” he says, adding the phenomenon is “driving (Ford) toward more products that serve multiple needs.”

“Any company still basing its business model on simple demographics, quite frankly, is going to be left behind,” Fields says. “The reality is that consumers today don’t identify themselves ‘simply’ anymore. They live complex lives, and they identify themselves in more than one simple role.”

Fields says shifts are occurring in the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations that are driving fragmentation in the automotive market.

Today, Boomers account for 70% of all new-vehicle purchases, and Ford expects that number to remain at about 60% through the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, in less than 10 years, Millennials – those born between 1977 and 1998 –

will account for a quarter of all vehicle purchases, Fields says.

“Are we ready to deal with both groups at the same time? Do we really understand what’s driving them? Or are we resorting to simple demographics and, perhaps, naive thinking about the products that people really want going forward?” he asks.

Fields predicts that as the two groups converge, so will their wants and needs.

Products such as Ford and Microsoft Corp.’s upcoming Sync, which seamlessly incorporates attributes of cell phones and MP3 players within a vehicle, cross age lines with “style, functionality and a simple user interface,” he says.

“In reality, Boomers want the same thing as Millennials, and that includes styling that appeals to them on an emotional level, features that fit their lives and simplicity in the way we speak to them,” Fields says.

“We are starting to figure out how to do this in the auto industry.”

bpope@wardsauto.com