MaxDiff / Best Worst Scaling (BWS)

How it works:

MaxDiff is a method for determining the importance/relevance of different product features and offerings.
Respondents are shown several sets of usually 3-5 items from a master list. Each of these sets is drawn up based on an experimental design. The respondent is asked to select the most and the least wanted/important item from each of these sets.
Using special multivariate analyses, we can then calculate the individual importance of each of the features.


MaxDiff scaling offers a number of advantages compared both with established, but also other innovative approaches:

  • Questions are easy to understand and easy to answer for respondents
  • It is possible to take into account many different features and characteristics
  • Features are always evaluated relative to one another (“trade-off“)
  • Identifies “must-have“ and “nice-to-have“ features
  • No tendency to “everything is important” (in contrast to approaches where importance is asked directly)
  • Very broad spectrum of uses
  • Results are easy to interpret and implement
  • Results available on an individual level


Pricing and product design analyses

  • Importance of individual product features and characteristics with regard to purchasing behaviour
  • Investment in relevant product features and offerings
  • Evaluation of new products/innovations
  • Evaluation of names for products and services

Image, brand and communication analyses

  • Determining image attributes linked with a brand
  • Determining the most important image attributes in the brand environment
  • Testing claims, advertising messages and communication media


  • Determining target groups with similar needs (needs-oriented segmentation)

Further information:

The advantages of this method are presented in an article in Harvard Business Review.

Case studies on pricing research (Pricing – Price Optimization)

To find out more about MaxDiff (Maximum Difference / Best Worst Scaling) please contact us.