person Guy Potter access_time January 9, 2018
GET OFF THE OMNIBUS AND GET REALTIME

Technology has transformed the industry, so why wait for results? When I started in research I loved omnibuses.  The thought of being able to ask one question, cost effectively, and get results back the same week!  Fantastic!  If a client had a very low budget at least all was not lost.  The phrase the man on the Clapham omnibus was first coined in 1871 and used to represent the average man.  When the market research industry adopted this term to describe this particular methodology is more difficult to ascertain.  However, both now seem dated.  Is there such a thing as an average man? Should a survey be “average”, targeted at 1,000 or 2,000 people.

There may be times when it is necessary / important to get the common view, but dig deeper…How do Omnibuses usually work?  The client has a question, they send it in to a research agency, they agree it and programme it into their omnibus and set the omnibus running.  Usually the client gets results a couple of days after the omnibus has started.  To be fair in recent years the speed of omnibuses has increased and 24 hours is not uncommon.

Now what actually happens?  The client has a question (so far so good).  They send it to a research agency (again all is well).  The agency agrees to run it.  The agency looks at their omnibus and the omnibus manger adds the question to the end of the omnibus.  Everyone is pleased this week’s omnibus is “full”.  What this really means is that the question is added to the end.  Question 10 if the client is lucky, question 20, 30 if not.  Perhaps it is sandwiched between some questions on nappies and drill bits (that’s probably innocuous enough) or perhaps it follows some questions on your competitor’s brand (who knows)?

What is probably almost always true is that it is not at the beginning, whilst the person feels human, before a raft of questions on a host of different topics and respondent fatigue (people fatigue is not a phrase) has set in.

How do companies offer so many different omnibuses?  Car drivers, the employed, Millennials. etc, etc, etc.  run one and take the sub set of respondents.

We at MaruUsurv have designed our approach differently.  We do not run to a schedule.  Questions can be set up when needed – Tuesday evening – no problem.  People can be targeted, only need car drivers, target car drivers, don’t pay for 2,000 people and then reject all non-car drivers.  Need to see results online in a dashboard when they come in?  Fine!  Why is there a wait for results?  Actually why?  Do people wait for Facebook status updates, does President Trump’s Tweet take two days to arrive?  Of course not, a wait for a Tweet or status update would be unthinkable so why wait for results?

Guy Potter is maru / usurv's head of research and clients.
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