A product or service is described in terms of a number of attributes. For example, a television has attributes of screen size, screen format, brand, price and so on. Each attribute can then be broken down into a number of levels. For instance, levels for screen format may be CRT, LCD, or Plasma.
In typical retail market research studies, subjects would be shown a set of products, prototypes, mock-ups, or pictures created from a combination of levels from a set of attributes and asked to choose from, rank or rate the products they are shown. Each example is composed of a unique combination of product features. The data may consist of individual ratings, rank orders, or preferences among alternative combinations.
These three steps - collecting trade-offs, estimating values, and making choice predictions - form the basis of an analytical hierarchy process (AHP).
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