ACA lets the researcher design a computer-interactive conjoint interview for data collection over the Web, an intranet, or using device not connected to the internet (CAPI) interviewing. The interview can consider many attributes and levels, paying special attention to those the respondent considers most important. Questioning is done in an "intelligent" way; the respondent's part-worths are continually re-estimated as the interview progresses, and each question is chosen to provide the most additional information, given what is already known about the respondent's values. In addition to the conjoint-related ACA questions, ACA comes with a Lighthouse Studio 50 system that can include up to 50 "standard" survey questions for capturing additional information for use in market segmentation. These 50 questions can include randomizations and skip patterns. (More than 50 questions can be fielded in conjunction with ACA through larger Lighthouse Studio licenses. Both general interviewing and ACA are components within the Lighthouse Studio interviewing products.) Respondent data are saved to a database on the Web server (or on separate PCs, if using CAPI-based data collection), and are available in real-time upon completion of the interview.
The steps for designing and conducting an ACA study are typically as follows:
|1.||Using Lighthouse Studio, the researcher designs the ACA study: types in the attributes and levels, adds additional survey text, and chooses from a menu of options that control the overall flow of the interview. The researcher formats questions using the point-and-click interface and previews the questions locally within Lighthouse Studio.|
|2.||Once the researcher is satisfied with the look, flow and content of the interview, the interview is uploaded to an Internet server (or, optionally, to multiple devices for CAPI-based interviewing). Most Lighthouse Studio users will field the survey using Sawtooth Software's hosting services.|
|3.||The researcher tests the ACA survey online by accessing the interview via a browser, making sure the interview is administered as expected, and checking the resulting data using the Admin Module to ensure that the data are being stored correctly. A pretest is often conducted during this stage to evaluate the suitability of the survey and to make sure the resulting utility data have face validity.|
|4.||Respondents are invited to participate in the survey (usually via email) and are given the URL address (which sometimes includes a unique password). While the interview is in progress, the researcher and/or client can view or download the data at any time without disturbing the data collection or interviews that may be in progress.|
|5.||When interviewing is complete, the data are downloaded using Lighthouse Studio's Admin Module or using a Get Data step, and the respondent utilities are estimated locally within Lighthouse Studio. The researcher then uses either the Online Market Simulator or the Market Simulator software integrated within Lighthouse Studio to analyze the results and conduct market simulations.|