Cooper Tires created the Cooper® Reliability Study to uncover and rank the top items Americans rely on daily.

Cooper® is built on providing quality, reliable tires for drivers since 1914, and understands the value of being a reliable partner for everyday life, whether celebrated or not. In unpacking “reliability,” Cooper® scored items on three rational metrics: regularity of use, quality and reliability; and three emotional metrics: anxiety, happiness and identity. The items that ranked highest represent a mix of high tech and low tech, but the top 10 list is dominated by items that have been staples of American life for decades.

The top 10 most reliable items for 2019 are:

  1. WI-FI/THE INTERNET
  2. CELL PHONE
  3. TOOTHPASTE/TOOTHBRUSH
  4. PERSONAL VEHICLE
  5. CREDIT/DEBIT CARD
  6. TIRES ON PERSONAL VEHICLE
  7. SHAMPOO
  8. GLASSES AND/OR CONTACT LENSES
  9. MICROWAVE
  10. LIVE TV ON CABLE, SATELLITE, ETC.

The top two items on the list are relatively newer technologies; Wi-Fi/the internet ranks first, while cell phones are second.

And yet, many other technologies including laptops and tablets did not make the top 10.

The third highest-ranking item is toothpaste/toothbrush.

Americans are not moving toward a ridesharing, carless future anytime soon: personal vehicles rank fourth overall, while ridesharing ranks last of all 28 items tested.

A critical component of Americans’ personal vehicles, the tires on their vehicles, also ranks in the top 10, underscoring the tie between reliable tires and a reliable vehicle.

Coffee is at the top among consumable items, besting chocolate, tea and gum.

There’s a big generational gap between live TV (cable/satellite) and streaming TV; Gen Z and millennials both prefer streaming TV, while boomers and the silent generation prefer live TV.

The two items that parents rank much higher than those without children in their households – streaming TV and food delivery – speak to their growing reliance on convenience as they balance responsibilities and demands for their time.

Key Findings

Technology

Wi-Fi/the internet are the two dominant staples of American life. Somewhat surprisingly, the overall scores for Wi-Fi/the internet increase with older generations.

It does appear that cell phones will overtake Wi-Fi/the internet as the top item in the future. Cell phones rank 1st for Gen Z, millennials and Gen X, while it actually falls outside the top five for baby boomers and the Silent/Greatest Generations.

Apps on phones and tablets will likely join the top ten in the future, but there are not similar trends for laptops and tablets to move up, as their relative rankings are consistent across age groups.

Technology

Streaming vs. live TV

One of the most noticeable generational differences comes between live TV on cable and satellite (10th overall) and streaming TV services (16th overall).

Gen Z and millennials both prefer streaming TV, and it ranks in the top 10 among both groups.

Boomers and the Silent/Greatest Generations solidly prefer live TV. Gen Xers are more evenly split, but lean in favor of live TV.

streaming vs live tv

City vs. rural divide

Population density has a clear impact on the results of the Reliability Study.

City residents give higher ratings to urban staples like public transportation, ridesharing and food delivery, but they are also more plugged in to tech items like streaming TV, fitness trackers and headphones.

Meanwhile, rural residents give higher ratings to their personal vehicle, which is their top ranked item on the Reliability Study.

Still, on many items there is no significant gap between rural and city residents.

They give nearly identical scores on Wi-Fi/the internet, vacuums, toothpaste/toothbrush and live TV.

city vs rural divide_outlined

What parents rely on

Today’s parents are balancing many competing responsibilities and demands for their time – and they are relying on household items to get through the day.

Parents’ average rating of all items is 6.26, while non-parents give a score of 5.36.

The two items with the greatest differences – streaming TV and food delivery – speak to parents’ need to have on-demand convenience. In fact, parents give higher ratings to streaming TV (6.84) than live TV (6.57).

Other items with large differences include tech tools like headphones and fitness trackers, but some easy in the moment pick-me-ups like makeup and gum also top the list.

 

What Parent Rely On_outlined

Tech may pass cars someday
but not ridesharing

Cars figure to remain a dominant staple of American life for decades to come. Personal vehicles rank 4th in the Reliability Study overall, and they rank first on the “identity” score (6.14).

Personal vehicles finish well ahead of ridesharing among every subgroup by large margins.

However, the preeminence of cars in American life may wane in future years as younger generations give higher ratings to cell phones, toothpaste/toothbrush, and in the case of Gen Z, even apps on their phone/tablet and headphones/ear buds.

Personal vehicle scores are also tightly linked to urbanization. It’s in the top five for every subgroup, but it declines as the population density grows.

Tech may Pass Cars Someday

 

Comparisons by income

Respondents with the highest incomes give higher scores to items up and down the Reliability Study. It fits that those with higher incomes, and thus more consumer purchasing power and more experience with consumer items, have incorporated them into their daily routines.

However, there are some items that receive consistent ratings across all income subgroups. There are very few, if any, statistical differences between the Reliability Study scores for Wi-Fi/the internet, cell phones, microwaves, shampoo and coffee.

The starkest differences by income are fitness trackers, athletic attire and ridesharing

Comparison by Income