Last week, I claimed that people fly Porter primarily because of convenience and not chiqueness. Also, I ended up recommending that you should force your customers to trade-off attributes to find what they really want. Some of you asked me to go into more detail on this topic. Let’s see if smart guys at Bain & Company can help you…
Let’s start with the logic: If you ask a customer whether something is important or not (without a proper context), most probably the answer you will get is going to be “YES.” For instance, is convenience important for an airline company? The answer is “Hell, yeah.” Is sitting on a leather seat important. “Of course.” How helpful is this exercise? Even if you ask your customers to rate these attributes on a scale, probably nothing will jump out, because for customers everything is important. If your goal is to figure out what do your customers really want, then Bain & Co says that you should use the research technique called “MaxDiff.” And I agree. Without going into too much technical details, let me explain what you should do.
First, come up with a laundry list of product or brand attributes-typically that represent potential benefits. (For olive oil it could be colour, viscosity, taste, packaging, shape of the bottle, name etc…)
Second, show participants sets of four attributes at a time, asking them to select which attribute of each set they prefer most and least. (Let’s say first round attributes are: name, taste, viscosity and shape of the bottle. I would pick taste as the most important and shape of the bottle as the least important, provided that I previously used this brand)
Finally, continue showing different combinations of four attributes to identify the most and least important ones. The beauty of this technique is by forcing your customers to trade-off attributes, you understand exactly which attribute is the most important, which one is the second most important etc. (If you want to learn more, you can watch this presentation by Bain. If you are a researcher looking for more, then read this article.)
Going back to Porter Airlines, I speculate that no matter what, convenience would come first, followed by price, followed by on-time flights and (maybe) then chiqueness. But, then again it is just me. If anyone from Porter is reading this and decides to conduct a “Maxdiff” I will be more than happy to learn the results. Even it turns out that I was wrong!
Today’s actionable tip: Use MaxDiff to figure out what do your customers really want.