Max-Diff Analysis


Measuring what drives consumer behavior, or what attributes are most important when making a purchase decision is a very common research objective. Maximum Difference Analysis (Max-Diff) is a powerful tool that Saurage Research utilizes to understand what attributes in an offering are most important. This approach often leads to clearer insights than traditional rating techniques.

How does Max-Diff work?

Respondents are provided with a set of attributes from which they are asked to indicate which of them is most important (preferred) and which is least important (preferred).

Respondents traditionally complete a series of approximately 15 sets. Each set is designed to show the respondent a different subset of items. Through careful survey design, all items and pairs of items are displayed an equal number of times. Additionally, each respondent will see a different set of choice models. However, each respondent will typically be offered each item at least two times across the exercise. The typical Max-Diff exercise includes 15 to 40 attributes to be measured. Responses are analyzed using Hierarchical Bayesian techniques to derive attribute importance scores at the individual respondent level.

Example of Max-Diff Importance Scores:

To provide deeper insight, the importance scores can be stratified by varying populations. The following table highlights significant findings that could be determined by stratifying the respondents based on land vs. offshore well responsibilities.

What are the advantages of Max-Diff analysis?

Max-Diff analysis often results in more clearly defined differentiation among items. It also eliminates the chance of straight-line responses as well as scale usage effects. It has also been demonstrated that Max-Diff scores provide greater discrimination between attributes as well as between respondents on the attributes. Additionally, the simple presentation of the attributes makes it a very effective technique when gaining information from global responses.


Max-Diff Analysis is a strong research tool that effectively measures customer preference and attribute importance through trade-off analysis instead of typical rating scales. The technique is very effective when product attributes or service offerings do not contain varying levels or degrees. Additionally, this tool can be easily utilized when conducting online surveys.

About Saurage Research

We are a full-service marketing research firm. We provide the answers that drive successful business strategies. Accurate, usable data – packaged so that so that you can understand it and act on it successfully.

Since 1987 we have worked closely with companies in many industries. It is rewarding to see our research used to create (or redirect) national advertising campaigns, bring faltering businesses into the black, and turn unconvincing promotional programs into success stories. We know our business and understand your needs. To request a bid or for more information, contact us now.

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