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Qualtrics vs. Decipher vs. Sawtooth Software

Sep 15, 2021
Animation of an open laptop with a survey

Market research is an essential tool for any business to better understand their customers and make well-informed business decisions. Luckily, online survey platforms put these pivotal insights at your fingertips.

However, finding the right platform for your needs can feel overwhelming with the abundance of options online. Not to mention, the better choice for you may differ from others based on your research objectives. In this article we’ll compare a couple players in the online survey space: Qualtrics, Forsta and Sawtooth Software.

This article will compare their use cases, features, pricing and limitations–so you can easily see how they stack up. While there are many tools for building an online survey, these comprehensive (and expensive) platforms share many of the same offerings, so we’ll be looking at what stands out about each platform. The table below shows a sneak peek of the topics we will cover.

Qualtrics vs. Forsta. vs. Sawtooth Software comparison graphic


Qualtrics is a cloud-based survey platform and experience management company that serves a variety of businesses and academic researchers. They have four core tools focused on specific research needs called CustomerXM, ProductXM, EmployeeXM and BrandXM.

Use Cases

Qualtrics is a technical survey platform and is often used by large enterprise or mid-size organizations. The platform has a relatively steep learning curve compared to other platforms, so it may be better suited for those willing to invest some time into training employees on how to navigate the platform and fully utilize its’ features.


Qualtrics has a variety of features that can vary depending on what research solution you’re using. Access to some of these specific features will also depend on the plan that you get. However, there are few key tools to note.

One benefit of Qualtrics is that it has an extensive library of survey templates that can help you to design a survey, many of which are free to access. These range from things like customer feedback templates to event sign ups. They also offer what they call “Certified Questions”, which are essentially demographic questions that are pre-built by the Qualtrics team. These pre-designed questions can be integrated into your survey to build customer profiles for your respondents.

The Qualtrics platform also allows for 100+ integrations and a number of extensions. However, the extensions may require additional work and programming knowledge to implement, which Qualtrics does not provide.

Qualtrics also includes the fundamental tools needed to create online surveys from skip logic to custom reporting options. However, these features are comparable to other platforms and should be expected from a survey platform with a higher price point.


Although prices aren’t completely transparent on the Qualtrics website, according to some sources, they use a subscription-based model that ranges from around $1500 to $5000 a year per user. The subscriptions on the lower end of this spectrum are much more limited in terms of analytics and reporting, as to be expected. The exact price you pay will depend on how many features you need, the size of your business, number of users and more.

They also offer a free account with limited features, or a free 30-day trial of their professional grade product that includes advanced features.

Overall, Qualtrics is one of the more expensive survey tools in the industry, which is why it’s important (if you’re considering it) to first make sure that there isn’t another survey platform that could meet your needs with a lower price tag.


Price is certainly one of the main disadvantages of Qualtrics. The other is the training required to use the platform if you’ll be using Qualtrics internally. While the user interface provides a lot of options, it requires more time to become familiar with all of the features, especially if you need to add integrations or extensions. Qualtrics does offer full-service research, but these services come at an even bigger cost.

Forsta: FocusVision Decipher + Confirmit

Now let’s take a look at FocusVision Decipher and Confirmit. These two competitors recently merged under the brand Forsta, but will continue to operate as usual while the Forsta organization carries out its integration plans. For simplicity, we will discuss their solutions together.

First, some brief introductions. Decipher is the survey platform under the FocusVision brand name (which is now a Forsta brand) and offers software solutions in the form of online surveys, interviews and focus groups. Confirmit provides a variety of survey and reporting software, and positions its’ solutions towards insights professionals.

Use Cases

Compared to Qualtrics, FocusVision Decipher is likely to be used to be used by mid to smaller sized companies. This is because Decipher has more limited capabilities and flexibility compared to Qualtrics for companies that need a higher level of customization.

On the other hand, Confirmit offers a more comprehensive set of research tools, and is suitable for enterprise size companies. With the recent merger, however, the scope and pricing of projects with these brands may change.


Like Qualtrics, Confirmit has a variety of insights solutions that range from survey design to reporting and analytics. One unique feature they provide is their Action Management tool which monitors survey results, flags customer issues, and assigns them to the appropriate department or individual.

They also have a Mobile Data Reporting Tool that allows you to tailor reports to mobile devices. Their overall solutions are geared towards three segments that they call Voice of the Customer, Market Research and Voice of Employees.

Decipher offers fundamental survey features as well as some personalized tools. One tool they offer enables users to automatically upload survey questionnaires that they started in Microsoft Word™ to the platform. Another feature of Decipher are their Video Open Ends where respondents can record video responses to open-ended survey questions. This feature requires an integration to be accessed on Qualtrics.


There is no information on the Confirmit or Decipher website about pricing. To get a price for your project with either of these Forsta brands they require you to request a quote.


One of the limitations of FocusVision and Confirmit is that they also require some training in order to get familiar with the survey platform. They have learning videos, but mostly on specific topics, and they do not have as many survey templates as Qualtrics. This may make it a little more challenging for an internal team to adjust to the platform and understand which of the tools and features they actually need to use for their project.

Another possible limitation is the recent merge. Will this make it more accessible for users, or will the use cases be less clear? Only time will tell on that.

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Sawtooth Software: Lighthouse Studio

Lighthouse Studio by Sawtooth Software is a survey and data analysis tool that is primarily built around choice-based analysis and choice modeling. Its bread and butter is choice-based conjoint analysis or CBC, in which you present alternative options to your respondents and they decide which one they prefer in each scenario. Let’s take a deeper dive into Lighthouse Studio and see how it compares to other survey tools.

Use Cases

Because Lighthouse Studio is all about choice modeling data analysis like CBC and MaxDiff, it’s particularly useful for gauging consumers’ interest in multiple options. This makes it a strong contender for tasks like product testing, feature testing, weighing different packaging designs, and so on. Using comparison survey questions, this Sawtooth software can create predictive simulations to show you consumers’ preferences and what actions they would take in certain scenarios.


It’s important to note that while Lighthouse Studio focuses primarily on choice-based surveys, it does offer a variety of other question formats too. It allows you to use rating scales, rankings, and more.

This survey tool also has a convenient mobile app for survey creators. This allows you to keep an eye on your survey results and access your data from anywhere.

Finally, another top feature Lighthouse Studio users enjoy is a high level of customization for power users. Beyond the tool’s built-in options, you can add custom HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or Sawtooth Script code to your surveys.


Lighthouse Studio has multiple product tiers so you can choose the option that best suits your budget and the features you need. The basic suite starts at $4,500 per year while the advanced suite starts at $11,990 per year. The advanced suite includes a richer profile of features including more advanced data analysis capabilities. For larger organizations, there are enterprise add-ons available as well with custom pricing.


As proficient as Lighthouse Studio is for choice modeling, users find that it isn’t as beneficial for many other types of surveys and market research like brand awareness studies, brand perception studies, consumer satisfaction surveys, and so on.

Another top limitation is the user experience for survey creators. Designing a Lighthouse studio survey can be complicated and confusing due to poor platform design.

The Right Survey Platform for Your Needs

The right survey platform for you or your organization really comes down to what your specific goals are, your budget, and how much time you are willing to invest into learning a new software. When considering large platforms like Qualtrics and Forsta, it’s important to pay attention to the unique tools they offer and which of these features you’ll actually use.

In addition, if you’re interested in full-service capabilities, you’ll want to make sure these platforms truly understand your objectives and can get you the support you need.

We hope that this comparison guide helped to uncover some of the key features and considerations of these platforms so you can find the right fit in your online survey platform search.

At GroupSolver ®, our goal is to make market research easy. Without a steep learning curve, overwhelming add-ons or hidden prices. Our intuitive platform makes it easy to collect, explore and visualize your data in our interactive dashboard. What’s more, our platform leverages AI technology that no other company has, allowing you to quantify qualitative data in real time and reveal customer stories without moving a muscle.

Want to see for yourself? Request a demo to watch our advanced survey platform in action.

See how GroupSolver compares to other leading survey platforms in our Comparison Guide.

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