Modeling customer preferences using multidimensional network analysis in engineering design

Mingxian Wang, Wei Chen*, Yun Huang, Noshir Contractor, Yan Fu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Motivated by overcoming the existing utility-based choice modeling approaches, we present a novel conceptual framework of multidimensional network analysis (MNA) for modeling customer preferences in supporting design decisions. In the proposed multidimensional customer product network (MCPN), customer product interactions are viewed as a socio-technical system where separate entities of 'customers' and 'products' are simultaneously modeled as two layers of a network, and multiple types of relations, such as consideration and purchase, product associations, and customer social interactions, are considered. We first introduce a unidimensional network where aggregated customer preferences and product similarities are analyzed to informdesigners about the implied product competitions andmarket segments.We then extend the network to a multidimensional structure where customer social interactions are introduced for evaluating social influence on heterogeneous product preferences. Beyond the traditional descriptive analysis used in network analysis, we employ the exponential random graph model (ERGM) as a unified statistical inference framework to interpret complex preference decisions. Our approach broadens the traditional utility-based logitmodels by considering dependency among complex customer product relations, including the similarity of associated products, 'irrationality' of customers induced by social influence, nested multichoice decisions, and correlated attributes of customers and products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11
JournalDesign Science
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Discrete choice analysis
  • Network analysis
  • Preference model
  • Social influence
  • User needs and preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Modeling and Simulation


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling customer preferences using multidimensional network analysis in engineering design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this