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Omnibus Surveys

If has been noticed that fieldwork costs of many marketing research surveys are very high. Sometimes, these costs reach 80 per cent of the total expenditure. If we analyze these costs, we find that major part of these is spent in making contact with the respondent whereas administering the questionnaire on respondents take much lesser time and costs. This means major part of the time and cost is taken by the traveling of the researchers to the place of respondents whereas the eventual interview only marginally influences the expenditure. Suppose, a survey of 2,000 respondents is to be conducted, the same cost would be required to be incurred if only one question is asked or even if 30 questions are to be included in the questionnaire. It is basically the relatively high costs of making contact and the insensitivity of costs to the length of the questionnaire has given rise to what are called omnibus or syndicated surveys.

An omnibus survey refers to one in which the questionnaire, instead of being devoted entirely to one research project, is made of a number of sub-questionnaires, each one being a survey in its own right. An omnibus survey is similar to ‘ad hoc’ survey is except the questionnaire simultaneously including questions on  many independent research projects than one.

Each of the sub-questionnaires contains questions on different aspects falling in its purview.


The major advantages of omnibus survey are as follows:

1.    It substantially reduces the cost of conducting surveys.

2.    This also reduces the time required to conduct various surveys as many surveys can be conducted in one single shot.

3.    Pre-survey preparation is greatly reduced because the sample  is the single one for all the surveys. This differentiates omnibus surveys from the ad hoc surveys where the work begins each time with a newly designed sample and special arrangements for the fieldwork are required.

4.    The analysis of results is quicker because most of the data are amenable to automation.

5.    Omnibus surveys are particularly useful when a researcher is interested in carrying out a multination research. This reduces the cost, effort and time which otherwise could be tremendous.


Following are the major disadvantages associated with omnibus surveys;

1.    A limited number of questions can be asked in such surveys because the time is limited at the disposal of the researcher. No client is allowed to dominate the questionnaire, hence a restricted number of questions on each subject.

2.    Omnibus surveys fail to handle the complex question because of the limitation of time. No additional material like cards, advertisement cuttings etc., can be carried along by the researcher. This limitation of omnibus surveys make their use almost impossible in a number of research projects.

3.    A survey requiring an unusual sample design is not suitable for an omnibus survey as no operator can adopt the sample design for any individual user.

4.    Any other peculiarity in the total survey design that is essential to a particular project may, of course, prohibit its use on an omnibus survey.

5.    More comprehensive analysis and presentation of collection data cannot be expected in omnibus surveys, as the researcher may not be equally equipped in all sort of topic included in the questionnaire.

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