Conjoint analysis is a research-based, statistical technique that helps companies get to the heart of their current and potential customers’ decision-making processes. At its core, conjoint is about breaking a product or service down into its component parts and valuing each individual element to inform strategic decisions about product/service design, advertising, pricing, etc. Once you know what customers value, you’re in a good position to focus your resources appropriately.
In terms of data-gathering, conjoint requires respondents to make a series of tradeoff choices between products/services with varying configurations of attributes. These tradeoffs reveal the underlying preferences and priorities of each respondent, which can then be aggregated and analyzed across the entire population. Several discrete methodologies fall under the conjoint umbrella, each with its own set of use cases, pros, and cons. At Cicero, we primarily rely on three methods that cover most clients’ needs: Choice-Based Conjoint, Adaptive Choice-Based Conjoint, and Menu-Based Choice. Here’s a quick primer on which might be most appropriate for the particular questions you’re trying to answer.
Choice-Based Conjoint (CBC)
The most commonly used conjoint method. In this methodology, respondents are asked to choose between multiple products with varying attribute configurations, an exercise they repeat numerous times (typically 8-12) with differing product configurations. CBC is a great option for products on the simpler end of the conjoint spectrum (i.e., products that have a limited number of attributes and levels within attributes). CBC requires the shortest amount of survey time of any of the most commonly used conjoint methods, so it is often possible to research additional complex topics outside of the conjoint exercise when CBC is employed.
CBC Case Study
Cicero simulated market demand and preferences for health care plans that varied by brand, average co-pay, monthly premium, hospital choice, physician network, prescription coverage, dental coverage, and vision coverage.
Adaptive Choice-Based Conjoint (ACBC)
A more advanced conjoint method that is well-suited for complex decision-making tasks. As opposed to CBC, ACBC begins with a broader funnel that is in some ways a better simulation of real world decision-making. The respondent is asked to help formulate a consideration set (by ruling out “non-starter” configurations and identifying attributes that do and don’t influence their decision). They then perform a tradeoff exercise similar to CBC, but that has been honed to be more relevant based on their initial responses. Because ACBC starts with a broad funnel, it can accommodate many more attributes and attribute levels vs. CBC. Additionally, because so much more information is gathered about individual respondents completing all phases of the ACBC, relatively smaller sample sizes can be used while still yielding satisfactory margins of error. The main downside to ACBC is that the survey length typically leaves no room for additional complex topics outside of the conjoint exercise.
ACBC Case Study
Cicero defined optimal feature bundles and pricing for a complex B2B software offering consisting of over 15 attributes, each with between 2-6 levels.
Menu-Based Choice (MBC)
A specialized form of discrete choice modeling that is applicable in situations where respondents face the option of choosing between bundled products and a la carte features. The simplest example would be a fast food restaurant drive-thru where you are making choices between burgers and chicken sandwiches with fries and drinks of different sizes, all available as standalone items or as bundled meals. These types of choices occur in many industries (think about bundled or a la carte telecomm services, all the options you’re presented when buying a new car, etc.). MBC is not always relevant, but when it is, there is no better substitute for the analyses it enables.
MBC Case Study
Cicero helped a performing arts organization model demand for individual arts productions and associated wraparound events that could be purchased via a season pass or a la carte. Each production included multiple price points based on seating tier (Discount, Standard, Premium).
Choosing the right conjoint method (or another methodology entirely) is dependent on everything from available sample to the makeup of your product/service and the specific questions you’re seeking to answer. If you’d like a thought partner in determining the research and analysis your organization should be pursuing, we’re always happy to chat. Feel free to reach out.