Omnibus surveys: what are they and what alternatives exist to omnibus studies?

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Omnibus studies or omnibus surveys have traditionally been a way to quickly and efficiently obtain the insights you need.

We’ll explain what they are, what their advantages are, and provide alternatives for managing your market research with agility.

Let’s get started…

What is an omnibus survey?

Omnibus surveys are a specific type of quantitative market research. Each omnibus has a predetermined methodology and launches different waves at fixed intervals.

A client in need of a small study can «join the omnibus» by contracting per questions. The omnibus study provider combines the questions from all clients in the wave into a single questionnaire. This allows the fixed startup and fieldwork costs to be shared among different clients.
At the end of the survey, each client receives only the results of their own questions.

What are omnibus surveys used for?

In omnibus studies, the methodology is fixed and determined by the service provider. There are online omnibuses that conduct fieldwork over the internet, telephone omnibuses, or sometimes omnibuses that conduct face-to-face interviews.

In all cases, a shared questionnaire is used, which is why omnibus surveys address various topics throughout the interview. Contracting an omnibus survey is a quick and cost-efficient option for companies to obtain small doses of information they need without having to create a specific study.

As for the topics, they can vary widely. In the same questionnaire, there can be questions about consumption habits of a category, questions to find out how many people have seen a particular television advertisement, or other questions aiming to cover various research objectives.

When to contract an omnibus survey?

This type of research is interesting for small projects, whether small businesses are starting in research and want to know something very specific or larger companies want to conduct a small, one-time measurement.

In any case, when considering contracting an omnibus survey, its advantages and disadvantages should be taken into account.

Advantages of contracting omnibus studies

  • Attractive price, as some fixed costs are shared among different clients.
  • Speed and agility: It’s easy to include questions – no need to think about the methodology since it’s predefined – and results are usually obtained quickly.

Disadvantages of contracting omnibus studies

The disadvantages of omnibus studies are mainly related to their flexibility. If the omnibus methodology fits your needs, it’s a good option, but if customization is required, its flexibility is limited since it’s a predefined methodology for all clients.

  • Customizing the sample is not possible. Omnibuses generally work with large representative samples. When the target segment for the desired study has low incidence, it’s better to create a custom survey.
  • Not recommended for long-duration studies. As the number of questions increases, and since the price often depends on the number of questions contracted, creating your own study becomes more economically favorable.
  • Not usually the best choice for sensitive topics. It can be confusing for respondents to intersperse something relatively intimate or personal in a diverse questionnaire.

Alternatives to omnibus studies

Technology has made it easier for new solutions to emerge that provide all the advantages of speed and cost efficiency without the disadvantages that an omnibus study presents.

An insights platform like We are Testers allows you to gather all the necessary information in record time and access study results faster than with traditional omnibus studies. There’s no need to wait for the wave to start; it can be initiated at any time, and results are available within hours.

In terms of flexibility, an insights platform like We are Testers offers more advantages. You can choose the sample you want by applying the appropriate filters or selecting from our 400 predefined segmentation criteria. You can create a questionnaire as long as you need to meet your research objectives.

If you’re unsure about creating the right questions, don’t worry. The We are Testers team will support you throughout the process of configuring your questionnaire and programming your survey.

Now you know the advantages and disadvantages of omnibus studies. If you’re thinking of creating a simple survey and need help making a decision, talk to our experts. Our team will be happy to help you confidently take all the steps.

 

Update date 22 December, 2023

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