One of the more common optimization approaches in market research is TURF analysis. TURF stands for Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency. It is a technique for finding the optimal bundle of items (messages, flavors, brands, magazines, etc.) that “reach” respondents. TURF has been available for MaxDiff problems using our Online MaxDiff Analyzer tool. But, we’ve now made that same tool handle general data other than MaxDiff including Likert scale, ratings, magazine readership (yes/no), brand within consideration set (yes/no), etc.
A classic TURF example is the problem of choosing which flavors of ice cream to stock in the freezer at a grocery store. The grocer may decide that he/she has limited space and can only include up to 8 flavors of ice cream (out of 30 possible flavors). The grocer wants to maximize the chance that shoppers will find a flavor that they like well enough to buy in the freezer (where "like well enough to buy" means that the preference score exceeds some threshold, such as a 3 on a 5-point scale). If the respondent encounters a flavor he/she likes in the freezer (having a score of 4 or 5), the respondent is counted as "reached." The problem isn't as simple as including the eight most preferred flavors on average across the sample. Niche flavors that appeal to segments of the population (and that can increase total reach) would be overlooked.
For the ice cream example outlined above, the TURF procedure examines all possible subsets of 8 flavors of ice cream (out of 30 total flavors), and for each set counts how many respondents are "reached." The top sets of 8 flavors that maximize "reach" are listed in the output with the percent of respondents reached shown next to each.
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Since this article was originally published, the cost of an annual subscription to the MaxDiff Analyzer has increased.