MaxDiffs and Conjoints

In a MaxDiff exercise, participants will be asked the same question multiple times, but each time, they will see a different subset of items to rate.

Market research is an essential component of any business. It involves analyzing the market in which your business operates and understanding customer needs and preferences. MaxDiff and conjoint analysis are two popular market research techniques used to understand consumer preferences and make informed business decisions. These methods help businesses gain insights into what features or attributes of a product or service are most important to consumers and how they value different options.


At Slice MR, we’re committed to delivering comprehensive online market research solutions that empower businesses to make informed decisions. With our expertise in MaxDiff and conjoint analysis, we help our clients gain a competitive edge in their respective industries. Keep reading to learn more about these powerful research techniques.

What is MaxDiff?

A survey respondent provides valuable marketing data through a MaxDiff survey.

MaxDiff, short for Maximum Difference Scaling, is a type of analysis used to rank or prioritize a set of items based on their relative importance or preference. It presents respondents with a series of paired options and asks them to indicate which option they prefer or find most important. By analyzing the responses, researchers can determine the most preferred and least preferred options, making it easier for businesses to understand what factors contribute to consumer satisfaction and prioritize their efforts accordingly.

In a MaxDiff exercise, participants are presented with the same question multiple times, but each time they are shown a different subset of items to rate. This approach aims to simplify the question and eliminate any bias that may arise from presenting all items together. By breaking down the options and asking participants to make choices in smaller sets, a MaxDiff analysis provides a more effective way to determine preferences.

The main advantage of using MaxDiff surveys is that it allows researchers to test a much larger number of items than they would be able to with other methods. Instead of overwhelming participants with a long list of items to rate, MaxDiff surveys divide the items into several groups, making it easier for participants to compare and choose. This not only makes the task more manageable for participants but it can also provide researchers with a comprehensive understanding of the importance of different items based on customer preferences.

MaxDiffs can also help eliminate any biases that may arise from participants choosing the same item or becoming fatigued by the repeated rating process. The randomized presentation of different item subsets ensures each item has an equal chance of being chosen, reducing the influence of order effects or habitual response patterns.

How does MaxDiff work?

As discussed, in MaxDiff analysis, researchers present a group of attributes, called a “set,” to the respondents. The set can vary in size and number of characteristics, and researchers have the freedom to choose the attributes they want to include. Each attribute within the set is treated as an individual statement that needs to be ranked by the respondents.

Utility scores are assigned to each attribute in the set, indicating the value or importance of that particular attribute. These scores are calculated by subtracting the number of times an attribute is chosen as least important from the number of times it is chosen as most important. The utility scores are then arranged around a mean value, making it easier to compare and analyze the relative importance of different attributes.

To standardize the results, MaxDiff analysis often employs a 0-100 normalization approach. This ensures the utility scores are presented on a consistent scale, making it easier to interpret and compare the importance of different attributes across sets.

In the design file of a MaxDiff study, each set is identified by a version number, which helps organize and analyze the results effectively. Each attribute within the set is represented by an “Item” column, and its statement is determined by the corresponding number assigned to it.

MaxDiff analysis offers a robust and insightful way to understand the preferences and priorities of respondents. By considering multiple attributes and their importance, researchers can gain deeper insights into consumer decision-making, product development, and other areas where understanding preferences is crucial.

How does Slice MR use survey software technology?

A marketing research professional looks over reliable data supplied by survey takers.

At Slice MR, we take pride in our ability to provide high-quality insights and data to our clients. To achieve this, we utilize cutting-edge technology and software. One powerful tool we use is software specifically designed for creating surveys and collecting data. As a result, we can employ one of the most versatile and effective platforms.

Advanced software allows us to enhance our survey capabilities and provide our clients with a seamless and efficient way to gather the insights they need. With this technology, we can design and implement surveys tailored to meet the unique requirements of each client. The platform offers a wide range of question types, allowing us to capture invaluable data.

When collecting data, one of the common strategies we employ is the Indices method. This method helps researchers understand and compare various data points by using a standardized scale or benchmark. By using indices, researchers are able to quantify the relative performance or importance of different variables in a given study.

For example, if a design file has twelve attributes, only four might be shown at a time. The user can select an attribute by clicking on its corresponding visible option. Behind the scenes, the Indices method records the index number of the selected attribute in the data file. This will help provide insight into which items from the entire list of attributes were selected and which attributes are important.

Additionally, an alternative method for collecting data includes a smaller data file. The data file typically consists of values ranging from 1 to 4, and each value corresponds to a specific attribute or feature being examined. For example, if a company wants to gather feedback on different aspects of their product, such as price, quality, usability, and design, they can assign each attribute a value from 1 to 4.

Respondents then provide their input by selecting a value for each attribute. These values indicate the level of preference or satisfaction they have for each feature. By analyzing the data file, researchers can gain a comprehensive understanding of which attributes are performing well and which ones need improvement. This method allows for quantifiable data that can be analyzed and compared across different respondents.

What is the MaxDiff process?

When implementing the MaxDiff process, the client usually plays an active role by providing the front-end design. This design includes the selection of attributes and levels that will be used for the survey respondents to make choices. This involvement ensures the research aligns with the client’s specific needs and objectives.

In some cases, however, clients may not have the resources or expertise to create the MaxDiff design themselves. In such situations, our market research professionals can step in to create the design as a deliverable. This involves conducting a thorough analysis of the client’s requirements, target audience, and research objectives. Based on this information, the researcher will then develop a customized MaxDiff design that effectively captures the desired insights.

Our market research professionals have extensive experience in designing MaxDiff studies, ensuring the chosen attributes and levels are well-suited for eliciting valuable preferences from the respondents. By collaborating with our experts, clients can be confident in the accuracy and effectiveness of the MaxDiff design, leading to more reliable and actionable results.

What is Conjoint?

A survey taker chooses from a set of attributes to provide valuable market research data through a conjoint analysis study.

Conjoint analysis is another powerful market research technique used to understand customer preferences and make informed product or service decisions. It involves breaking down complex choices into component attributes and analyzing respondents’ trade-offs between those attributes.

In a typical conjoint analysis, respondents are presented with a series of hypothetical product or service profiles that vary in attribute levels, such as price, design, features, or brand. By systematically presenting different combinations of attributes, researchers can determine the relative importance of each attribute and estimate how customers make trade-offs between them. This enables businesses to identify the key drivers of customer preference and optimize their offerings accordingly.

The analysis generates a utility score for each attribute level, which represents the perceived value or desirability of that level to the customer. These scores are then used to create choice models that predict customers’ preferences and simulate market scenarios. By predicting how customers would choose among different product concepts, companies can gain insights into product positioning, pricing strategies, and the potential impact of changes in attributes.

What are the different types of analysis?

When it comes to getting the valuable insights that businesses need, there are several types of analysis that can be employed. Choice-Based Conjoint Analysis (CBC) is a powerful market research technique used to measure consumer preferences and understand the factors that influence their decision-making. It enables companies to gather valuable insights into what attributes or features consumers prioritize when making choices between competing products or services.

Adaptive Conjoint Analysis (ACA) is an enhanced version of traditional conjoint analysis offered by Sawtooth Software. ACA incorporates a dynamic approach where the software adapts and focuses on the specific attributes and features that are most valued by each participant. This method helps overcome the potential burden of providing excessive information to participants, which can lead to reduced attention and accuracy. By tailoring the analysis to each individual’s preferences, ACA provides a more efficient and accurate measurement of attribute importance and willingness to pay.

Discrete Choice Analysis (DCA) is another analytical technique commonly used to simulate real-world consumer purchasing behavior. Through experimental designs, consumers are presented with a set of product choices varying in attributes such as brand and price. Participants are then asked to choose the preferred bundle of features and attributes or indicate if they would not choose any of the options. The decisions made by the survey respondents mirror real-world purchasing behavior, allowing researchers to understand the relative importance of different attributes without participants being explicitly aware of the focus on attributes’ importance.


Slice MR is a leading market research company that prides itself on offering high-quality online research solutions to its valued clients. Our team of experts is dedicated to delivering top-notch services and helping businesses gain valuable insights into their target audience. We offer a wide range of services that include MaxDiff and conjoint research analysis. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for your company.