A Research Technique to Optimize Your Product Mix
We just completed a very cool research project (a concept test) that perfectly demonstrates the power of MaxDiff and TURF analysis. These two techniques can help you make smarter product decisions than other types of concept tests. Here is an overview of what we did and why it was so powerful.
We asked consumers to evaluate 38 visual designs for a decorative hardware product. We designed it as a series of 25 MaxDiff choice sets. For each set, consumers told us which design they liked most, and which one least. Each consumer evaluated all designs at least three times in a trade-off with the other designs. When all data was collected, we calculated probability scores (MaxDiff utilities) and, as we typically recommend, scaled them into an “index” where 100 is average. Scores ranged from 51 at the low end, to 142 at the top end, as follows:
The question is: Which designs should our client move forward with? Five designs stand out as particularly strong, and I have to say, I agree with our survey respondents. They are all beautiful (I wish I could show you). But a TURF analysis (Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency) revealed the folly of offering these five designs. Why? Because people who like the top designs tend to like all the top designs. And there are large groups of people with distinctly different tastes who do not like any of these “best” designs.
Offering a choice of those top five designs provides a strongly-preferred design to just 36% of respondents. But if we offer a mix of other choices (some of which are weak overall) we can offer a strongly-preferred design to 64% of respondents. We practically double our reach.
Although the other designs in the optimized mix are not particularly beautiful to my mind, they pull in men, and consumers who prefer basic functionality over decorative design. They also pull in consumers from one region of the country, in particular.
So if you’re doing a concept test to select more than one product to offer, do not automatically choose the top favorites. Think in terms of optimizing your product mix, which may well involve a combination of lesser favorites instead.
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