We talk about Conjoint Analysis quite often. Partly because it’s something we know very well but mainly because it’s such a powerful technique. The core principle behind Conjoint Analysis is that purchase decisions are not purely rational. There is often an emotional or irrational component. It’s very hard to measure the irrational side of decision making with direct question approaches such as those used in surveys or focus groups. Optimization Group’s CEO, says it best:
“If you ask a rational person a rational question, you’ll get a rational answer.” – Jeff Ewald, CEO at Optimization Group
Studies have shown that people struggle to accurately communicate what is driving their purchase behavior when asked a direct question.
In short, Conjoint Analysis is a technique for managing situations in which a decision maker has to deal with options that simultaneously vary across two or more attributes. Different messaging/product attributes are presented “conjointly” (like in a real purchase environment), Conjoint Analysis teases out the individual drivers of peoples’ decisions by observing their choices.
If you would like to know the details behind this technique, check out our introduction to Conjoint Analysis.
You may be saying to yourself, “great, this all makes sense, but what can I do with it practically?” Let’s take a brief look at some of the best applications of Conjoint Analysis.
Understanding Market Preferences
At its core, Conjoint is measuring the preference of the market. You may be looking to identify which attribute holds the most weight. In other words, a highly valued option on one attribute can make up for an unappealing option on another attribute. For example, someone might be willing to pay more for better quality.
Segmenting the market
One deliverable from a conjoint study is identification of the “segments” of consumers that occur naturally because they are motivated by the same type of message. For example one segment may be drawn to an emotional message while another responds to facts and figures. We call this a MindType™ and it is a more compelling way to group consumers than standard demographics.
Price is simply another attribute. Conjoint is great for answering questions like, “What should my price be?” or “What message do I need to communicate to raise my price?”
Check out our case study on how to shift from a cost-plus to a value-based pricing strategy using Conjoint Analysis.
New Product Development
With Conjoint, you have the ability to see what the optimal/new product might be. Your product may have a list of features or capabilities but you don’t know which combination is the best option. By looking at the weight of each attribute and the interaction between attributes, you can start to paint a picture of the optimal solution.
As in product development, the same idea applies to messaging. It’s about identifying the right combination of messaging attributes that create the most motivating message.
As an extension to the Message Optimization section mentioned above, Conjoint can also be used for brand positioning. Here the question is more about, “Which messages are best attached to my brand?” It is also helpful to know which messages your brand should stay away from and which messages are already “owned” by other brands in your category.