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Monadic Testing: All You Need To Know

Updated: Mar 24

Monadic testing: all you need to know

Find out all you need to know about monadic testing, from what it is, what it’s used for, the different types including sequential monadic testing and the benefits of monadic testing as well as its limitations.

Table of contents:

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What is Monadic Testing?

Monadic testing is a market research technique, where each person is asked during a survey about their opinions of only one randomly selected design stimulus on its own, rather than comparing it with two or more competing designs side-by-side. This is normally used for line extensions, new products or pricing decisions by asking evaluative questions such as overall liking or value for money.

Dependent on sample size and profile, each design can be assessed by different groups. In doing so, this helps to mimic real life situations, where you normally see one brand at a time. A current offering should be included in the survey research as a control or benchmark.

When to use Monadic Testing?

Below are the two main uses of monadic testing, which were very briefly touched upon earlier:

Concept testing

Concept testing could be for a new product or a line extension, where the respondents focus on a product idea in which detailed feedback is gathered. Key consumer insights are then drawn from their views and opinions about the concept around the overall appeal and acceptance of the idea or how it’s likely to fare against the competition. Another example of this could be around a new packaging design compared to the current version.

Price testing

Price testing is where respondents are shown a price of a product and are asked questions concerning the purchase intent, value for money and other price related questions. Each price of an individual product is shown one at a time to avoid any bias from other possible pricing options to help judge the price sensitivity of a product in finding the optimal price. Depending on sample size, this is normally done by splitting the total sample into individual groups to help gage respondent’s attitudes to each price point and the likely level of demand.

4 Benefits of Monadic Testing

The following are 4 advantages of using monadic testing:

1. Fairest means of testing brand visuals

Where monadic testing helps to replicate real life situations in only seeing one brand at a time.

2. Helps to avoid bias

It eliminates bias created by situations where test visuals are being compared with one another such as also showing an existing logo design that consumers are already familiar with, thus giving it an unfair advantage.

3. More in-depth feedback

As respondents are only asked about one concept idea, you can go more in-depth by asking additional detailed questions about the idea, so providing you with greater insights.

4. Easier and shorter to administer the research

This ties in with the above benefit as each person taking part in the research is only asked about one concept on its own. Therefore, questionnaires should be much shorter in contrast to a comparison test, where they could be shown and asked about a series of similar concepts and they would also need to be randomised to be given an equal chance.

Plus, there is likely to be a higher completion rate and with less respondent fatigue when assessing only one concept.

Limitations of Monadic Testing

Requires larger sample sizes

Monadic tests do need larger sample sizes particularly if you are testing multiple concepts as the total sample is being split into groups, where each group is exposed to only one concept. So, the more concepts that are being tested, the more sample that is required e.g., sample of 300 respondents per concept, would be 600 if two concepts are being tested.

This has also a knock-on effect on feasibility of doing such research and longer fieldwork time.

Expensive to administer

Based on the larger sample sizes mentioned above, would make the research expensive to administer especially if limited budget has been allocated for this.

Types of Monadic Testing

Split-cell monadic testing

Split-cell monadic testing is main form of monadic testing that has been discussed earlier, where a single concept is only shown to each group of respondents that make up the total sample and are asked a series of questions about the concept. More sample is required, the more concepts you have in order to facilitate each split cell of respondents evaluating a different concept.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is another type of monadic testing that is often used for website design when comparing two versions of marketing stimulus whether it be an email, webpage, tagline or other marketing assets and measuring the performance of the two.

Basically, a similar group of respondents are split in half, where one group see version A and the other group see version B. They are then asked a series of questions, which are then analysed to evaluate how each of the versions performed.

Sequential monadic testing

Sequential monadic testing is an alternative approach to monadic testing, where multiple designs are tested and assessed individually, one after the other by each respondent. So, this is basically, a series of back-to-back monadic tests for all respondents that help to keep costs down as respondents are evaluating several designs. Respondents should be evenly distributed across all designs at the start, so that they have an equal chance of seeing each of the concepts first.

Advantages of sequential monadic testing

  • Cost effective as each respondent is exposed to multiple concepts rather than a single concept.

  • Easy to administer this type of research approach.

  • Requires a smaller sample size as more than one concept is seen by each respondent.

Disadvantages of sequential monadic testing

  • More likely to have order response bias during the survey due to comparisons being made with other concepts shown before.

  • Longer surveys, where respondent fatigue is likely to set in, leading to lower completion rates.

As you are now aware of the basic principles of monadic testing and sequential monadic testing, check out this interesting post about NPD research to help guide you to the right path for any possible research you may do in the future for a new product.



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