An Omnibus survey is a quantitative market research method where information on a variety of subjects is collected on the same questionnaire and is used by multiple clients who effectively share the cost of conducting research by sharing the survey costs. It is also sometimes known as ‘Piggyback’ surveys.
An Omnibus Survey provides those seeking information about markets and opinions with a means to get quick, relatively low-cost answers to their questions without the cost of organising a full market research survey themselves. The research company conducting the Omnibus survey conducts a number of interviews with the target group on a regular basis – typically weekly and sometimes more frequently (e.g. twice a week).
Typically, Omnibus surveys are only cost-effective when asking 5 or fewer questions. The Omnibus will also ask a number of standard questions which are always asked for profiling purposes. These standard questions generally include psychographic and demographic information (i.e. age, sex, occupation) or e.g. company classification information for a business survey – with questions effectively sponsored by clients. The answers to these questions are then analysed shortly afterwards, cross-referenced with some or all of the classification data, and delivered to the client either as tables or in a report.
In the UK Omnibus surveys are normally large scale market research surveys covering a nationally representative sample (or at least a sample that is in high demand) and containing a number of questions on a wide-range of topics. Many Omnibus studies are now Online but a number of telephone and face-to-face surveys are still run. Sample sizes are typically 1,000 or 2,000 adults for nationally representative panels. However, there are also specialist omnibus surveys and panels which focus on niche audiences such as; Children, Business owners, IT professionals etc.
The obvious advantage of this form of research to the client is the cost savings (because the sampling and screening costs are shared across multiple clients) and timeliness, However, another key advantage of omnibus surveys is that they tend to be quick turn-around and results are available within a matter of days.
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