Editor’s note: Zoe Beales is research manager at Northstar Research, London.  

I attended a three-day training session in Rotterdam, Netherlands (put on by SKIM and Sawtooth), all about conjoint and choice-based methodologies. Attendees came from a variety of backgrounds, including consumer, pharmaceutical and academic with mixed experience in the technique and Sawtooth software. 

If you’re new to conjoint, here are seven tips based on what I learned:

1. Conjoint has many uses. Conjoint is often associated with consumer research and asking participants to select which product they would buy in a given scenario. However, it can be used across multiple industries and does not have to be purely focused on buying products. Other examples of usage are: designing benefits packages for employees and developing new pharmaceutical treatments. 

2. Remember sampling basics. With advanced methods like conjoint, don’t forget sampling basics! You don’t want participants to be selecting “none” on every task because the product you are testing isn’t relevant for them. Make sure you are targeting the correct participants by screening appropriately in your survey. 

3. Focus on objectives. Making sure your business objectives are at the center of your design was constantly repeated. Although loose rules exist in deciding on number of attributes, sample size and number of tasks, do not lose sight of the main purpose of your research and ensure you take an approach focused on business objectives.  

4. Don’t overload on content. Conjoints are made up of multiple attributes which are essentially the different categories of a product (e.g., brand, color, size, etc.) and within each of these are levels of the different options. A temptation from internal stakeholders is to try and include as many attributes as possible in a conjoint but this can have a negative impact on the results. Remember, the business...