Tools to Calculate Perceived Value

Tools to Calculate Perceived Value

The only way to truly know the perceived value of your products is to ask your customers.  However, I'm going to talk about a couple of tools in particular that help a lot with this: Conjoint Analysis and Van Westendorp.  Conjoint Analysis is my preferred approach, but sometimes it is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, so that is why I have Van Westendorp as a back-up.

Conjoint Analysis

It's worth mentioning that entire books have been written about conjoint analysis.  I'm going to try and stay relatively high-level.  What a conjoint analysis attempts to do is to identify the perceived value of a product and every feature of that product.  A conjoint analysis is best explained with an example.  Lets use phones as the example.

Consider the different attributes and choices below:

Brand: Google, Apple, Samsung
Camera: 5 MP, 10 MP, 15 MP
Color: Black, Silver, White, Blue
Price: $200, $400, $600

What happens in a conjoint analysis is that it randomly picks one choice from each attribute and then asks the user to pick which one they would likely purchase.  So you could get something like:

| Brand  | Google | Apple  | Samsung | Apple |
| Camera | 5MP    | 15MP   | 10MP    | 5MP   |
| Color  | Black  | Silver | Silver  | Blue  |
| Price  | $400   | $200   | $600    | $600  |

The user would then pick which of those four they would likely choose.  Then the system will re-shuffle things and give them four more choices.  It will keep doing this across many users many times until eventually you have a full data set.

When you have a statistically significant data set, you will be able to see which attributes customers value more than others and within each attribute, which choices they value more than others.  But it goes even further than that.  With conjoint data you can work out roughly how much monetary value each feature is worth to a customer.  You can even do estimated market share and product mix based on packages you design.  It's all just math once you have the data.

It's worth noting that you can also do this to compare your own products and services against themselves.  You should also consider whether you want to target the conjoint against your customers or include prospective customers.  You usually want to include perspective customers, but not just completely random users.

Van Westendorp

The Van Westendorp (sometimes called Price Sensitivity Meter [PSM]) method also engages customers to see what they would purchase, but it is a lot simpler.  Each experiment is done in isolation and can't identify as easily what features are making a user pick one product over another.  All you do is take a product and ask your users the following four questions about it:

At what price would you consider the product to be so expensive that you would not consider buying it? (Too expensive)

At what price would you consider the product to be priced so low that you would feel the quality couldn’t be very good? (Too cheap)

At what price would you consider the product starting to get expensive, so that it is not out of the question, but you would have to give some thought to buying it? (Expensive/High Side)

At what price would you consider the product to be a bargain—a great buy for the money? (Cheap/Good Value)

You then graph the results of those with price across the x-axis an % of users on the y-axis.  This will create four lines that will create a small (usually) box.  You will likely make the most revenue by choosing a price that falls within that box.


That is a very brief overview of two powerful tools for figuring out what the perceived value of your products, services, and the features within them are.  There are online and offline tools that help you do this, so don't feel like you need to create all of this manually (particularly the conjoint calculations!).  I hope you engage these tools in the future as they are really useful.