What is MaxDiff?

Posted on 18 April 2017

MaxDiff (Maximum Difference Scaling) and BWS (Best–Worst Scaling) are related statistical techniques that help prioritise product features. Unlike conjoint, MaxDiff does not look at products as combinations of levels grouped by attribute. In MaxDiff, researchers are free to examine features in a more haphazard manner, which comes at the cost of limited analytical capabilities and limited depth of insight.

Each MaxDiff question presents a set of 3 to 6 features from which the respondent has to indicate which feature is most important or most desirable, and which is least important or desirable. For example, respondents maybe asked to choose the most attractive and unattractive features of smartphones:

Most attractive Feature Least attractive
6” screen
Silver colour
One month of free mobile data included
No physical “Home” button

MaxDiff and Best–Worst Scaling are considered to be slightly different techniques, with various flavours of both suited to specific research needs. MaxDiff is generally a less powerful technique than choice-based conjoint. While MaxDiff may be useful in some applications, it lacks the predictive power, versatility, and elegance of conjoint analysis. Contact us today if you are choosing between MaxDiff and conjoint analysis.

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