Stated Importance Versus Derived Importance: What’s the Difference?

Directly asking respondents about how important factors are is formally referred to as stated importance.

Whereas derived importance is the indirect way of measuring which factors matter the most to respondents by using other answers from the survey.

In this blog post, our market research company provides an overview of both approaches as well as which one is better to use.

But wait...why do we need stated or derived importance in market research?

Researchers trust respondents to provide them with their honest opinions in market research with each and every study.

If we ask respondents how satisfied they are with a factor or how important a factor is, we tend to believe them. Good enough, right? 

Not so fast.

Even though most respondents do not have malicious intent, pointed questions about importance may fail to tell the whole story.

An analysis of respondents’ answers has the potential to tell you what they find important beyond what they explicitly say. 

Stated Versus  Derived  Importance

What is Stated Importance?

Just like the name implies, respondents state the importance of several factors in a survey reporting on stated importance.

This data is typically collected by asking respondents to rate the importance of a series of factors on a scale (i.e., aspects of their customer experience). 

For example, you can use a 1 to 5 scale in which 1 means “Not at all important” and 5 means “Very important.” For more differentiation, feel free to use a 7-point scale or 10-point scale. It’s really a matter of preference here.

Want to read more about how to choose the right scale for your questions? Understand the benefits of small and large scales here.

Advantages of Stated Importance

Once you have the data, you can take it right at face value. This is a quick and easy way to get a sense of what factors are most and least important to respondents.

It’s a tried and true approach because you can always count on definitive results.

Even if all factors are highly rated, you immediately have some actionable information.

It’s perhaps the simplest way to measure importance in how straightforward it is to analyze the data and explain it to the client.

Disadvantages of Stated Importance

It does depend on your faith in respondents, however. Respondents tend to exaggerate the importance of factors when directly asked.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the results from stated importance are useless. Just be sure to acknowledge this data is based squarely on what respondents are telling you.

The answers here reflect what is top-of-mind important. Don’t count on each respondent to take everything into consideration when rating the importance of a factor.

What is Derived Importance?

If stated importance sounds like it might miss the mark for your study, what’s your alternative?

Derived importance allows you to tackle the same objective without directly asking the respondents what is important.

It starts with respondents providing an overall rating for their...

  • Satisfaction
  • Likelihood to repurchase
  • Likelihood to recommend
  • Other similar metrics

Next, respondents rate their satisfaction with a series of factors by the same scale. Again, this could be 1 to 5, 1 to 10, or whatever you prefer.

A correlation analysis is then conducted to identify relationships between the overall satisfaction metric and each individual factor from their experience.

The resulting correlation output for each analyzed factor will be a value between -1 and +1.

  • An output of -1 indicates a total negative correlation between the factors, meaning as one factor increases the other decreases.
  • An output of +1 signals a total positive correlation meaning both factors increase or decrease in sync.

It is important to note a value closer to 0 reflects a lack of any relationship.

Benefits of Derived Importance

The idea is that factors with a stronger positive correlation to overall satisfaction/advocacy are more important to the respondent.

You may identify underlying drivers to customer satisfaction that may be overlooked with stated importance.

You get all this information without even asking the respondent what is actually important to them.

To help predict how a factor tangibly impacts the overall satisfaction, turn to regression analysis.

Which Approach is Better?

Both stated importance and derived importance have their place in market research studies.

  • Stated importance is popular for being simple to conduct and easy to interpret.
  • Derived importance has value when there is interest in discovering hidden drivers to overall satisfaction.

Here’s the good news- you can actually use both in the same study if you really want to.

Mapping stated and derived importance against one another actually paints a full picture of factor importance.

Example of Using Both Stated and Derived Importance

In the below example, eight factors related to a patient’s choice in physician are graphed by their stated importance between 0% to 100% and derived importance between 0.00 and 1.00.

Derived importance was based on levels of satisfaction with the factors related to the likelihood of continuing to use a physician.

Map that shows Stated Versus Derived Importance


Benefits of Using Both Stated and Derived Importance

By mapping both stated and derived importance, we are able to see which factors have overstated importance, understated importance, or aligned importance.

In the case of this example, physician credentials (D) had higher stated importance but lower derived importance.

The takeaway here may be that respondents exaggerate the impact of physician credentials on their choice of physician. 

Another insight from this chart is that accurate diagnosis (H) rated highly in both stated importance and derived importance.

This indicates that receiving the right diagnosis is all-around important in the decision-making process for selecting a physician.

If your business has never conducted research to understand what is most important to your customers (or it has been a while), consider including both stated importance and derived importance in your next study for better data-driven decision-making.

Contact Drive Research for Help Executing or Analyzing Online Surveys

Drive Research, a national market research company, partners with organizations across the country to execute various quantitative and qualitative studies.

With over 30 years of experience, our team has the knowledge to utilize slated and derived importance for online surveys, should it be right for your project. 

Interested in working with Drive Research? Contact us today!

  1. Message us on our website
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  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

tim gell - about the author

Tim Gell

As a Research Analyst, Tim is involved in every stage of a market research project for our clients. He first developed an interest in market research while studying at Binghamton University based on its marriage of business, statistics, and psychology. 

Learn more about Tim, here.

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