Are you looking to test a new product idea or a service? They are quite a number of methods available in the market research space. However, for this blog post, we would be focusing on; Monadic survey design and Sequential Monadic Survey design.

These two concepts may sound similar, however, they are notable differences between them, and while conducting your market research study, it is essential to pick the research method that is most suitable for your objectives and can deliver the best results.

Learn more about the monadic and sequential monadic survey in this post, how it works, when it’s most applicable, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of using either of them.

What is Monadic Survey Design?

The word monadic is derived from the Greek word “μοναδικός,(Monos) “which means single because each product idea or service is shown and evaluated separately.

A monadic survey design refers to research designed to test individuals or multiple groups on one concept at a time.

The questions are designed to hear the opinions of the respondents on things like specific attributes they prefer or dislike, based on the concept or product they were shown.

In the end, the collated results are evaluated to determine the winning concepts.

The idea behind the Monadic survey design is that by focusing respondents’ attention on one product or concept at a time, they can uncover actionable in-depth results on products, pricing, and advertising decisions.

Examples of Monadic Survey Design

Here are some examples of Monadic survey design.

Monadic Concept Testing: This is a form of Modadic survey design that allows you to get your customer’s perspectives of your products. Here, participants focus on one product at a time and this test helps you gain insight into a customer’s total impression of a product.

Monadic Price Tests: This focuses on seeing if your target customers are receptive to the price points attached to the product. You display a single price and individual products to your respondents.

In this test, you present the respondent’s products with a single price. In the end, you can tell if your customers are willing to purchase the product at the proposed price. It is important to note that only a single price is displayed to disallow any influence on respondents on other pricing options. 

When To Use Monadic Survey Design

When you opt to use a Mondic survey design, you are introducing a single product or concept to your respondents, and asking them relevant questions. These questions would help them evaluate the concept objectively to submit their unique perspective of the subject. Hence, you can use a monadic survey design when you need to do any of the following;

  • You have several key performance indicators per concept/product.
  • You have adequate time: Monadic surveys are time-consuming, hence it’s best to adopt this method when you are not constrained by time.
  • Each concept takes time to understand and evaluate effectively

Some other uses for Monadic survey design include;

  • To get in-depth feedback; Since you are focusing on a single product you can follow up with more questions aimed at getting deeper insight.
  • When you have a few concepts that you want to test.
  • When you have a wide sample size to test the concepts on.

Advantages of Monadic Survey Design

Using a Monadic survey design can be beneficial to researchers. Here are some advantages of using this method;

Bias-free results: It is a wholesome design, because, assessing only one product at a time allows for clean and unbiased feedback. The respondents are exposed to only one concept in isolation without any external influence. 

Therefore the opinion of the participants is not tainted by external stimuli. The data derived is squeaky clean and can be used to validate your ideas without any constraints, especially as your audience is faced with only one product.

Shorter questionnaire: Monadic surveys are focused on a single concept, making it easy to keep the survey short. This eliminates survey fatigue and ensures a higher completion ratio when compared to longer surveys.

Deep Insight: The structure of Monadic surveys provides adequate time for participants to focus on a single concept. This allows for follow-up questions that can give you deep insight into the perspectives of the respondents.

For example, a monadic test can show reasons why respondents preferred one product over another, this exposes issues of brand perception and helps the researcher to pinpoint areas of improvement to allow better acceptance of their products.

Disadvantages & Limitations of Monadic Survey Design

The limitations of this method are also something to consider if you are considering adopting this method for your research. Some of the disadvantages include;

High Research Cost: Since the target audience for this survey needs to be made up of multiple groups, you would need a larger sample size which invariably makes your research cost higher. This challenge is even more evident if you are focusing on a niche market, making it difficult to find enough people to fill or create multiple groups.

Limited Feasibility: Using Monadic surveys can be difficult to implement since it entails testing multiple concepts one at a time. This means you would show each respondent only one concept at a time. This implies that the more concept you test, the bigger your sample audience size grows. For instance, let’s assume you are testing 2 concepts and you want a sample of 200 people per concept. If you now need to test more concepts the sample size becomes larger and becomes difficult to manage. This can slow things down and you end up spending a lot of time retrieving responses.

What is Sequential Monadic Survey Design?

Unlike Monadic survey design, Sequential Monadic design focuses on testing multiple concepts at the same time. At the very least, a minimum of two concepts are presented to the respondents. This means that participants are first shown one concept, after which an alternative concept is shown to them as well.

Once the concepts are presented, the respondents are asked questions, and all the concepts being tested are followed up by the same questions. The idea behind this is to compare the results to know the winning or most preferred concept.

In a sequential monadic test, respondents are shown two or more concepts in an isolated setting and the concepts are displayed in a random order to eliminate order bias.

Read – Research Bias: Definition, Types + Examples

Displaying different concepts with the same questions,  help you understand why the participants prefer one concept over the other and you can glean deep insights into the reasons for their choices.

Examples of Sequential Monadic Survey Design

An example of a sequential monadic survey design can be seen in the way food businesses carry out their survey. For instance, when a successful ice cream company like cold stone creamery, creates a new flavor variant, involving the use of a more cost-effective ingredient option. 

To ensure that existing customers are not disappointed by the new taste, a test is conducted using the old recipe and the newly formulated recipe. Both samples are given to the customers to taste. 

Their feedback would help you identify the difference between the two and see if the acceptance rate of the new product is high enough. This would now help you decide if you should take a shot at it or not. Hence you would not risk adopting a new recipe that may fail in the market.

Read More – Taste Testing Market Research & How It Works

When To Use Sequential Monadic Survey Design

You can use Sequential Monadic Survey Design when you are testing multiple concepts. Since it is much cheaper compared to the Monadic survey and requires less time to test. It is best used when there is a low budget and you are pressed for time to get results. 

Advantages of Sequential Monadic Design

Small Sample Size: Each respondent is presented with at least two concepts at the same time. The required sample size to get a reliable result is minimal in this case.

This makes this method suitable for niche markets. at least two concepts, the required sample size goes down, making the research more cost-effective. Since you require fewer respondents, this method is more suitable for researching niche markets. 

Cost-effective: The minimal sample size makes this method more affordable and suitable to implement with a limited budget. Hence the investment size for a sequential monadic survey design is minimal.

Timely Results: The time required to complete this testing is minimal. Responses are gathered in a jiffy due to the small sample size, as fewer respondents mean less time to administer the survey and collect results. 

Disadvantages & Limitations of Sequential Monadic Survey Design

Survey Bias: Presenting two or more concepts at the same time has a domino effect on the whole testing process. The number of concepts invariably increases the survey length. 

This in turn impacts the rate of completion negatively and exposes the process to the risk of non-responsive bias as well as other kinds of survey bias, especially if the concepts are not randomly displayed.

Read Also: How To Correct Biased Survey Results

Interaction Effect: It can also be plagued by the interaction effect, where a respondent sees something that they like at the beginning and become so enamored with it they close their minds to all other options. 

This means that the responses they would give would now be based on the previous scenarios they have already seen, which would have been avoided if they had viewed the concepts in isolation.

Longer Completion Time: Completing surveys via this method is time-consuming due to the number of concepts introduced, This would lead to low completion rates.

Survey Fatigue: Asking the same question over and over again about different products can lead to survey fatigue. Your respondents get tired of seeing the same questions over and over again and this affects the way that they begin to respond to the questions. This frustration can affect the quality of responses you get in the long run.


To put it most simply, a monadic survey shows a respondent one concept at a time, while a  sequential monadic survey shows one respondent more than one concept at different intervals. As minor as this difference might seem, it can have a huge impact on your research project.

 A monadic survey is most suitable when you want to get more in-depth feedback on concepts, while a sequential monadic survey is ideal if you are pressed for time and you need quick results.

Both monadic and sequential monadic surveys are essential in the creative or product development process.

Understanding the best one for your requirements will allow you to derive maximum results.


  • Angela Kayode-Sanni
  • on 8 min read


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