Happy Mother's Day Necessity!

New Poll Ranks Top Inventions From The Last 100 Years Based On Their Impact On Our Lives

May 07, 2014, 06:00 ET from Heart+Mind Strategies

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- As the mother of all invention, necessity is often overlooked this time of year.  Yet this mother has impacted the lives of every person on the planet with an impressive and steady stream of items that make all our lives easier—if not better.

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140507/85185

In a new poll released today by Heart+Mind Strategies, Americans identify the inventions that have had the most profoundly beneficial impact on their quality of life from a select list of the top 100 inventions from the last 100 years built by the Daily Mail.  The top three inventions were introduced in just the last 25 years, with the internet receiving top honors by two in five Americans (41%).  At a distant second and third are the laptop/personal computer (18%) and the smart phone (13%).  The rest of the results are as follows:

  • Microwave (6%)
  • Color television (6%)
  • Video gaming systems (5%)
  • Vacuum cleaner (3%)
  • Dishwasher (2%)
  • Disposable diapers (2%)
  • Zipper (2%)
  • Social Media (1%)
  • Stereo/portable music systems (1%)
  • Car stereo/radio (1%)
  • Pop up toaster (--)

The top five most beneficial inventions make sense; however, number six requires a double take.  Video gaming systems beat out more than half the inventions presented, including common household appliances, disposable diapers, social media, even the zipper.  Try selling that to your mother.

Upon closer inspection there are two sub-plots of note to this story.  The first is age; age creates a great chasm in how one views the impact of most of these inventions. The pattern suggests that inventions during your teen to early adult years tend to have the greatest impact, while items invented earlier may be taken for granted, as one never knew life without it.  For example, the laptop (1981)/personal computer (1977) is selected much more frequently by those over of the age of 45, while the smart phone (2003-2007) has had a much greater impact with those under the age of 55.  Similarly, video gaming systems are most beneficial to those ages 18-34, and among 18-24 year olds video gaming systems are second only to the internet.  Maybe that's why the zipper (invented in 1913)—something used multiple times a day by most people—is only selected by 2% of Americans.  To see full age breakouts by invention, click here.

The second sub-plot is written in personal values.  As experts in human decision-making, Heart+Mind Strategies understands that personal values drive each decision we make.  But values are contextual; for example, the value that drives the decision on what type of car to buy may be different than the value that drives the decision about what career to pursue.  In the context of deciding which of the inventions is most beneficial personally, three dominant values emerge: happiness/enjoyment, accomplishment, and freedom.  Each of these values is driving the decision for about a quarter of Americans. 

  • Happiness/enjoyment (28%)
  • Accomplishment (25%)
  • Freedom (24%)
  • Peace of mind (9%)
  • Safety/security (6%)
  • Well-being (4%)
  • Belonging (3%)
  • Self esteem/pride (1%)

"Basic demographics alone are not sufficient for reaching Americans through marketing and communications," asserts Heart+Mind Strategies' President, Mike Dabadie, "our data continue to illuminate the power of personal values to segment people into more meaningful groups for understanding and motivating to action."  On the heels of an Ogilvy award for work with the Las Vegas brand, he continued, "the power of the Las Vegas campaign is its ability to effectively communicate how Las Vegas satisfies the array of personal values that drive travel and tourism decisions and builds greater personal experiences through brand affinity."

Like Las Vegas, the internet is chosen as most beneficial based on its ability to satisfy multiple values.  The internet is the only invention tested that is equally driven by three values (accomplishment, freedom, and happiness/enjoyment)—all other inventions have a dominant value driver.  Also like Las Vegas, the internet is highly beneficial to all age groups with people of different ages able to satisfy different values with it.

To invent means to create or design something that has not existed before, to be the originator of.  Moms everywhere can add yet one claim to their long list of skills—inventor.  Mothers created us, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well, they are a major shaping influence on our values and priorities in life.  Happy Mother's Day to Moms everywhere!


This report presents the findings of a survey conducted among a sample of 1,008 adults comprising 500 men and 508 women 18 years of age and older.

The online omnibus study is conducted twice a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older.  This survey was live on April 21-23, 2014.

Completed interviews are weighted by five variables:  age, sex, geographic region, race and education to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population, 18 years of age and older.  The raw data are weighted by a custom designed program which automatically develops a weighting factor for each respondent.  Each respondent is assigned a single weight derived from the relationship between the actual proportion of the population based on US Census data with its specific combination of age, sex, geographic characteristics, race and education and the proportion in the sample. 

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. The data have been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the 18+ population.  Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated.  All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.

About Heart+Mind Strategies (www.heartandmindstrategies.com)

We help clients understand the hearts and minds of the people that matter most to their enterprise; and we deliver the strategic decision making insight and advice to transform understanding into measurable success.

We are experts in human decision-making and its impact on marketing decisions and communications across industry and issue categories.  We apply a rigorous framework and an experience-driven set of principles that have elected presidents and prime ministers, strengthened corporations, bolstered declining industries, and reinvigorated global brands.

This point of view illuminates:

  • How and why people make the decisions they do
  • How perceptual equity can translate into bottom-line equity
  • The role and linkage of both reason and emotion in persuasion
  • What it takes to build measurable value

SOURCE Heart+Mind Strategies