How Conjoint Analysis Helped Santa and his Elves

A conjoint analysis survey uses trade-offs as a way for people to indicate their preferences. Find out what value Santa's elves place on their wellbeing and the environment.

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Written by

Penelope Ainsworth

Research manager

022 091 3104

Superpower: Thrifting clothes

Fixations: Taylor Swift

Penelope’s work at Scarlatti spans impact modelling, monitoring and evaluation and market research. Her experience is in economic modelling and analysis in the primary industries.

Her economic background helps her see the full picture. Penelope loves to integrate new economic thought and research into her approaches, helping clients build a long-term and sustainable vision.

Penelope holds a Master of Commerce with First Class Honours in Economics from the University of Auckland.

Santa is progressive

Santa is a progressive old man and wants to upgrade his workshop operations to reflect the times.

Santa currently drives a coal sleigh, and his elves only get four weeks’ annual leave! Influenced by Leonardo DiCaprio and David Attenborough, Santa is now very passionate about operating sustainably and looking to upgrade his sleigh to an electric car (or petrol at the very least). But, as always, Santa is very aware that his elves are the foundation of his operation.

Santa came to us (Scarlatti) and asked how he can minimise his environmental footprint whilst maximising his elves wellbeing (all within a tight budget).


Our approach

Determining the optimal spend for Santa is not an easy task – we need to somehow place a value on his elves’ wellbeing and the environment to weigh up the spending trade-offs. We found a way to quantify the trade-offs whilst gaining buy-in from the elves.

At Scarlatti, we’ve developed our own survey tool, Confer, which also undertakes conjoint analysis. This is a form of market research where key stakeholders indicate their preferences in a survey. This enables us to understand the trade-offs that people are willing to make in many situations.

In the case of Santa’s workshop initiative, a conjoint analysis enabled us to gauge the value elves place on the environment and their own wellbeing (in terms of their annual leave and pay).

We surveyed the Elves by presenting them with a series of questions, such as would you rather Santa kept his coal sleigh and you get eight weeks’ annual leave, or Santa upgrades to an electric sleigh and you stick with your four weeks’ annual leave.


In aggregate, we uncovered those elves are incredibly selfless (no surprises here). We discovered that elves would be willing to take an 18 percent pay cut in order for Santa to upgrade to an electric sleigh, whereas they would only take a 10 percent pay cut to increase their annual leave to eight weeks.

This highlights the positive workplace culture Santa must be maintaining in the North Pole – elves love their job!

Did Santa get his sleigh?

Yes. Santa decided to upgrade to an electric sleigh, and the elves were stoked!

Turned out to be a win-win for the environment and the elves’ wellbeing. Santa, being the kind man that he is, agreed to increase the elves’ annual leave from four to six weeks, and gave everyone a 10 percent pay rise! What a man!

Take the survey

It’s not too late to influence Santa – he might change his mind.

See how other elves have responded so far and take the survey

Interested in a conjoint analysis survey?

Contact the social and market research team