For years now, my colleague Jessica would solicit donations to the American Cancer Societythrough its annual Daffodil Days® campaign. Each year I'd give Jessica my donation and a few weeks later I'd receive 10 daffodil buds. I'd arrange them in a vase in my office and watch as they opened up into beautiful blooms over the course of a few days. And in doing so I'd be reminded that my donation is being used to find ways to eradicate cancer and help people in need.

It was announced that this year would be the final year for Daffodil Days®.

product optimization daffodils

I have to admit, my first thought was not, "how will I donate to ACS now?" My first thought was that something was being taken away from me! Which, of course, irritated me. My second thought was that I'll have to look for another way to get daffodil buds next spring. And then it dawned on me that by cancelling the daffodils promotion, the ACS could be losing a long-time supporter.

Businesses are faced with product optimization decisions all the time – what will happen if I remove a product, service or distribution channel from the market? Will customers be lost? What will the short- and long-term effects be?

 Last year we helped a client who was trying to make a big decision about whether to close a branch medical facility. We could have asked users of that facility directly what they would do, but that raised important concerns:

• when being told something may be taken away (like daffodils) we risk irritating the respondents, who in turn may overstate the importance they place on it

• we didn't want to risk word getting out that they were considering closing the branch, especially if the client chose not to do so.

Turns out, there's a way to gather this information without asking them directly. We used discrete choice conjoint to determine the importance of the facility location relative to other factors.

This information allowed them to understand the impacts of their decision on the consumer side, and combine that information with all of their other critical decision factors to arrive at an informed decision.

I don't know whether or not these steps were taken before cancelling Daffodil Days® -- perhaps the costs of maintaining the program were just too high. So for now, I'm going to rely on Jessica's passion for the cause to motivate me to donate next year – whether I get my burst of springtime color or not.