Online testing of marketing concepts is now an established and proven practice. Numerous methodologies are used to test copy points, features and benefits. One methodology, MaxDiff, is becoming one of the most useful and straight-forward tools available to marketers today. The key characteristic of a MaxDiff design is that it forces respondents to choose between alternatives, which may be very similar and have a very similar appeal. Forcing respondents to choose the most preferred and least preferred item from a set of alternatives, results in a greater ability to analytically discriminate between the alternatives than is possible using traditional monadic rating questions.
Typically, MaxDiff research relies on descriptive elements (such as features and copy points) to define the most motivating marketing messages. Now, marketers are utilizing the MaxDiff approach with product visuals, including product concepts, packaging, logos and more. With MaxDiff, respondents are exposed to a set of images and are asked to select the best (most appealing, most important, etc.) and worst (least appealing, least important, etc.). Respondents typically complete several scenarios where each scenario contains a different subset of images. The scenarios are carefully created using an experimental design that ensures that each item is shown an equal number of times and in different order.