Understanding Survey Costs: What factors influence pricing?

Understanding Survey Costs: What factors influence pricing?

“How much does it cost?” We get that question a lot—obviously. But you might be surprised we don’t always have an immediate answer.

There is a lot to think about when it comes to quoting a survey, as it’s a nuanced project type often with many inputs. It may be helpful, therefore, to understand what drives overall price, as these factors are often levers we can push and pull to meet the budget.

Target Audience

As we discussed in our post How to Select the Best Mode for a Survey: Audience, an audience is the group of people targeted for the survey. The more limited the universe of potential respondents, the more expensive the project.

If a target audience is hard to reach, more resources have to be allocated during recruitment and higher incentives are offered for completing the survey. For example, these audiences can be considered difficult (and more expensive):

  • C-Level executives in large enterprises
  • Specialty physicians
  • Users of products/services of a brand with relatively low market share

Sample size

Generally, as sample size increases, costs-per-complete decrease. The exception? For an especially niche area in which there is a limited number of potential respondents, it takes significant additional effort to find the right respondents. At that point, costs-per-complete may actually go up—but this situation is uncommon.


A quota is a way of sub-segmenting the target audience to ensure a desired number or percentage of respondents meet specific criteria. Since quotas slice the potential pool of respondents, limiting who we are able to reach and when they may have pricing implications. Examples of quotas might be:

  • Geography: 50% USA, 25% EMEA, 25% APAC
  • Title/Role: 25% C-Level, 75% VP or Director level
  • Firmographics: Quotas around company size, number of beds in hospitals, number of employees, etc.
  • Product Usage: 50% users of the target product, 50% former or non-users

Length of Interview (LOI)

The average length of a single interview plays a significant role in pricing. The longer the survey, the higher the incentive for the respondent for reaching the finish line. Additionally, longer surveys may have higher drop-out rates, meaning more people need to be invited to reach the desired sample size.


If we’re targeting non-English speakers and taking care of translations, we have to factor in the cost to translate the questionnaire. Additionally, ex-US audiences are often harder to reach than respondents in the US.  Countries that have not historically been involved in as many market research efforts, or under-developed regions that may not have a robust infrastructure (think internet penetration for online studies), can add to the difficulty.


Want the survey done even more swiftly? We can sometimes allocate additional resources and deliver you the data earlier, depending on the mode. This is not so much a driver of cost as it is an additional lever we may be able to pull if your project priority is timely.

These are the major factors that affect survey pricing. It also happens to be the information the survey team needs to work on a quote!

We need to take it all into account. Every project is unique and even a small difference in specification can have a cost impact. That said, we usually turn quotes around in less than 24 hours.

If you have a project in mind you would like us to quote, click here.