Monadic Testing: A Survey Methodology for Concept Tests

When you’re running a product concept test, the methodology you use is an important decision. Your survey efforts will help collect valuable market research that provides insights into how consumers will respond to product, design, and marketing ideas early on in the development process.

 Whether you’re running the survey yourself or working with a third party to facilitate the test, you’ll likely have to choose between a variety of survey methodologies. One of the most popular concept test methodologies is monadic testing. This survey methodology is commonly used in product testing, ad testing, package testing, and more.

What Is Monadic Concept Testing?

Monadic concept testing is a survey methodology that splits survey respondents into multiple groups and asks each group about one concept in isolation. Monadic surveys are generally shorter in length, but hyper-focused on one concept or topic. This lets you get in-depth responses about very specific concepts without fatiguing respondents with too many questions.

Monadic testing is a useful survey methodology because it helps you avoid one of the most common concept testing mistakes: testing for too many things. If you’re trying to test for multiple variables across multiple concepts, your data will get muddy and you won’t be able to draw clear conclusions. Monadic testing prevents that.  

For example, let’s say you’re running a monadic concept test for a line of new skincare products and you’re in the final stages of product development. You could run a monadic survey that asks respondents about their thoughts on a single product in the skincare line. Follow-up questions could press for additional details on their thoughts about the branding, packaging, description, and more. But again, you’re only asking about one product in the skincare line. If you wanted to get feedback on multiple products, you’d need to run individual monadic tests for each product and use a new audience sample that uses the same targeting criteria.

A Monadic vs. Sequential Monadic Test

Monadic vs sequential monadic testing in concept tests

An alternative approach to monadic testing is a sequential monadic test. Just as in a standard monadic test, sequential monadic tests gather feedback on individual concepts from survey respondents in isolation—but using this method, you survey them sequentially. Instead of surveying three separate groups on single concepts, you could test one group on three concepts one after the other. These surveys typically present concepts in random order and use the same questions for each concept to prevent bias. A sequential monadic survey includes at least two concepts.  

Pros And Cons of Monadic and Sequential Monadic Testing

Both monadic and sequential monadic tests have benefits and drawbacks depending on your survey goals. Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons for each survey type.

The pros and cons of monadic vs sequential monadic testing

When to Use Monadic and Sequential Monadic Tests

Your survey goals will influence whether you choose to run a monadic or sequential monadic test. You’ll need to consider your concept, what you’re testing, when you’d need the data by, and how you’d like to run your test. You’ll also need to consider how large of a sample size you have at your disposal, since you may have to choose a certain survey type based on the number of respondents available to you.


Here are some helpful criteria that can give you a better idea of which method to choose.

You should use monadic test surveys if:

●    You only need to test a small number of concepts

●    You need feedback on several metrics per concept (e.g. color, branding, physical look/feel, etc.)

●    You have access to a large sample size of survey respondents

●    You are less constrained by budget

●    Your experiment isn’t very time-sensitive (since data collection can take longer)

●    The concepts you’re testing are time-consuming to review and interpret


You should use a sequential monadic test if:

●    You have more than a few concepts to test

●    You have a limited sample size

●    You don’t need to ask that many questions about each concept

●     You have a more constrained budget

●    You have specific time constraints

●    Your survey questions are shorter and straightforward


Considering the above criteria can tell you which survey method will work best for your experiment. Of course, you aren’t limited to using only one of these methods forever. Depending on where you are in the product concept testing process, you may benefit from using one method over the other.

 Regardless of which survey method you choose, you’ll be able to run an experiment that provides clear, strategic direction on your product development process. The data from these surveys can tell you whether you need to adjust your strategy, redesign your packaging, prioritize additional features, or make changes to your product to better meet consumer needs.


Go to Market with Confidence

Monadic and sequential monadic surveys are simple, effective survey methods that help you get a clear understanding of how your target audience feels about specific concepts. The results from these tests can help you go to market with confidence that your product provides a clear benefit to your target audience. To further explore the benefits of monadic and sequential monadic testing, reach out to Starlight Analytics to learn how our product concept testing services can help assist you in your research.

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