Product Management Dictionary

The Product Management Dictionary: Conjoint analysis

Learn about the powerful market research technique of conjoint analysis in our comprehensive Product Management Dictionary.

As a product manager, you are always looking for ways to make data-driven decisions that will help you create the best possible product for your customers. This is where conjoint analysis comes in. In this article, we will dive deep into what conjoint analysis is, how it works, and how product managers can use it to improve their products.

Understanding Conjoint Analysis

Definition and Purpose

Conjoint analysis is a research method used to understand how people make decisions about products and services. The goal of conjoint analysis is to determine the relative importance that customers place on different features of a product and how these features affect their willingness to buy or use the product. Conjoint analysis helps product managers understand what features are most important to customers, and how to balance competing priorities to create the best product possible.

For example, if a company is developing a new smartphone, conjoint analysis can help them understand which features (such as screen size, camera quality, battery life, and price) are most important to customers. By understanding these preferences, the company can make informed decisions about which features to prioritize and how to price the product.

History and Evolution

Conjoint analysis has its roots in marketing and market research. It was first introduced in the 1960s by the economist Paul Green. Since then, conjoint analysis has evolved to become one of the most widely used research methods in product management, marketing, and psychology. Its effectiveness lies in its ability to simulate real-world purchasing decisions and accurately predict how consumers will behave in the marketplace.

Over time, conjoint analysis has become more sophisticated and nuanced. For example, traditional full-profile conjoint analysis asks participants to evaluate a series of product profiles that vary in terms of their features and attributes. Adaptive conjoint analysis, on the other hand, uses a computer algorithm to adapt the profiles presented to each participant based on their previous responses. This allows for a more personalized and efficient research experience.

Types of Conjoint Analysis

There are different types of conjoint analysis, but they all aim to achieve the same goal - to understand customer preferences. Some of the most common types of conjoint analysis are:

  1. Traditional Full-profile Conjoint Analysis;
  2. Adaptive Conjoint Analysis;
  3. Pick Any/N Conjoint Analysis;
  4. Discrete Choice Modelling; and
  5. MaxDiff Analysis.

Each of these types of conjoint analysis has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of which to use will depend on the specific research question and context.

Key Terminology

Before we dive deep into the conjoint analysis process, let's establish some key terms that you should be familiar with:

  • Attribute - a feature or characteristic of a product that is being evaluated;
  • Level - a specific value or option within an attribute;
  • Profile - a combination of attribute levels that make up the product being evaluated;
  • Utility - the value or benefit that a customer places on a specific profile; and
  • Part-worth - the value or utility assigned to each level of an attribute.

Understanding these terms is crucial for conducting and interpreting conjoint analysis results. For example, part-worth values can be used to estimate the relative importance of different attributes and levels, and to identify which combinations of attributes and levels are most appealing to customers.

Overall, conjoint analysis is a powerful tool for understanding customer preferences and making informed product development and marketing decisions. By combining rigorous research methods with a deep understanding of customer needs and desires, companies can create products that truly resonate with their target audience.

The Conjoint Analysis Process

Conjoint analysis is a powerful tool that helps businesses understand how customers make decisions and what factors influence their choices. By breaking down a product or service into its individual attributes and analyzing how customers value each one, businesses can make more informed decisions about product development, pricing, and marketing.

Identifying Attributes and Levels

The first step in conducting a conjoint analysis is to identify the attributes and levels that will be evaluated. This may include product features, pricing options, or any other relevant factors that may affect customer decision-making. For example, if a company is developing a new smartphone, attributes might include screen size, battery life, camera quality, storage capacity, and operating system. Once the attributes and levels have been identified, a list of profiles is created, each featuring a combination of levels of each attribute. This list of profiles will be used to gather data for the analysis.

It's important to note that the attributes and levels chosen should be relevant to the target audience and reflect the real-world trade-offs that customers make when making purchasing decisions. Choosing the wrong attributes or levels can lead to inaccurate results and poor decision-making.

Designing the Survey

The next step in conducting a conjoint analysis is to design the survey. The survey should be designed in a way that is easy for respondents to understand and complete. Typically, respondents are presented with a series of profiles and asked to indicate their preference for each one. The survey may be administered in person, over the phone, or online, depending on the target audience.

It's important to ensure that the survey is designed in a way that minimizes bias and encourages respondents to make trade-offs between the different attributes and levels. This can be achieved by using randomized designs, presenting profiles in a logical order, and providing clear instructions and examples.

Collecting and Analyzing Data

Once the survey has been completed, the data must be collected and processed. This involves assigning a part-worth value to each level of each attribute and calculating the overall utility for each profile. Statistical analysis is used to understand the relationship between the attributes and their levels, and how they affect customer preferences.

There are several different methods for analyzing conjoint data, including regression analysis, hierarchical Bayes analysis, and maximum difference scaling. The choice of method will depend on the complexity of the analysis and the size of the sample.

Interpreting Results

The final step in conducting a conjoint analysis is to interpret the results. The results will provide insights into what features are most important to customers and how they affect their overall willingness to purchase or use a product. Product managers can use this information to optimize product features, pricing strategies, and marketing campaigns that are more likely to resonate with their target audience.

It's important to keep in mind that conjoint analysis is just one tool in a larger market research toolkit. While it can provide valuable insights into customer preferences, it should be used in conjunction with other methods, such as focus groups, surveys, and interviews, to get a more complete picture of customer needs and preferences.

Applications in Product Management

Conjoint analysis is a powerful tool that can be used in a variety of ways to inform product management decisions. Here are some of the most valuable applications:

Product Feature Prioritization

One of the most valuable applications of conjoint analysis in product management is in prioritizing product features. By identifying the most important features to customers, product managers can focus their development efforts on the areas that will provide the most value. For example, if customers value ease of use and reliability over other features, product managers can focus on improving those aspects of the product. This can help to create more competitive products that are better aligned with customer needs.

Additionally, by understanding which features are less important to customers, product managers can avoid wasting resources on developing features that won't have a significant impact on customer satisfaction or sales.

Pricing Strategy

Conjoint analysis can also be used to inform pricing strategies. By understanding the value that customers place on each feature of a product, product managers can determine the optimal price point for their products. For example, if customers are willing to pay more for a product that has a certain feature, product managers can adjust the price accordingly. This can help to maximize revenue and profits while ensuring that customers are getting good value for their money.

Additionally, conjoint analysis can help product managers understand how changes in price will impact customer demand. By simulating different pricing scenarios, product managers can determine the price point that will maximize revenue without negatively impacting sales.

Market Segmentation

Conjoint analysis can also be used to segment the market based on different customer preferences. By analyzing the data from conjoint analysis surveys, product managers can identify different groups of customers with similar preferences. This can help product managers create products that are tailored to the needs of specific customer segments, leading to higher customer satisfaction and better sales.

For example, if conjoint analysis reveals that one group of customers values high-end features and is willing to pay a premium price, while another group values affordability and simplicity, product managers can create two different product lines to appeal to each group.

Competitive Analysis

Finally, conjoint analysis can be used to understand how customers perceive competing products. By comparing the utility of different product profiles, product managers can understand what features are driving customer preferences for certain products and adjust their own products to better compete in the marketplace.

For example, if conjoint analysis reveals that customers prefer a competitor's product because of a certain feature, product managers can work to improve that feature in their own product or find a way to differentiate their product in another way.

Overall, conjoint analysis is a valuable tool for product managers looking to make data-driven decisions about product development, pricing, market segmentation, and competitive strategy.


Conjoint analysis is a powerful tool for product managers looking to understand customer preferences and make data-driven decisions. By identifying the most important features to customers, optimizing pricing, and creating products that are tailored to specific customer segments, product managers can create highly competitive products that are more aligned with customer needs. Whether you are developing a new product or trying to optimize an existing one, conjoint analysis should be a key tool in your product management arsenal.