When to Choose an Omnibus Survey over a Custom Survey
Omnibus surveys evolved as a way to share costs by combining survey questions from multiple clients. Because the biggest cost in conducting a survey is getting it set up and then finding a statistically representative sample of respondents to answer the questions, for some surveys it makes sense to pool resources and conduct a larger, shared survey.
But new technologies have made data collection more efficient and less expensive, so omnibus surveys are not always the best option. For many clients, a fully customized survey might be less expensive than an omnibus survey.
Here are the two most important factors that affect whether an omnibus survey will make sense for you:
1. The number of questions you want to ask. If you have a small number of questions – typically no more than five or six – then an omnibus survey can be a good option. Omnibus surveys are designed to aggregate just a few questions from many different clients, and are priced accordingly. If you have more than five or six questions, then fielding a short custom survey can often be priced as competitively as an omnibus, and you gain some significant advantages.
2. Who you want to survey. Omnibus surveys work only if many clients want to get survey responses from the same group of people. As such, an omnibus survey can be a good option if the population you want to study is broadly defined. In fact, most omnibus surveys are “general population” surveys, which means they rely on a sample of the entire U.S. adult population. If you start narrowing your target group (such as moms with children under the age of 5), then a custom survey that recruits those specific people is likely to be better.
You need both conditions for an omnibus survey to make sense. In other words, you need to have just a handful of questions, and you need to have a broadly defined group as your target. Many surveys meet these conditions, and when they do, they save you money.
If you are not sure whether an omnibus survey makes sense for you, we would be happy to price both options for you, outlining the advantages and disadvantages of each. We’ll advise you on the optimal approach given your objectives. Feel free to give us a call (312-348-6089).