Market Research, Branding and The Education Sector

3rd July 2012 16:14

On Monday 14 May 2012, James Hinde, Research Director at DJS Research Ltd, a leading market research agency based in Cheshire, gave a presentation at the Association for Marketing and Development in Independent Schools’ (AMDIS) annual conference. The presentation, which discussed the use of market research techniques to inform decision making in the education market, was delivered to around 80 representatives of independent schools.

James defined the key challenges in the education sector as standing out in a saturated market, utilising a limited budget effectively and generating internal buy-in amongst staff and governors. He also highlighted the over-reliance which some marketers place on their own experience and intuition, resulting in the total avoidance of market research. James suggested the best approach would be to utilise both intuition and research together, leading to a marketing strategy informed both by previous experience and a dispassionate assessment of the data.

Of particular interest, given the current changes in the Education sector at the moment, were James’ thoughts on branding and brand performance. Currently, one of the key focuses for independent schools, and also universities and colleges, should be increasing public knowledge of the institution. This is the first step in brand awareness. Following this, institutions should seek to drive consumer opinions towards favourability, active consideration, and eventually advocacy – when a learner or their parents would recommend a particular establishment to others.

James also discussed how education consumers (in this case, normally a child’s parents) can be segmented – not all are looking for a school (or college or university in later life) to provide the same things, and people place different values on different aspects of an establishment. For instance, some parents might value their child’s safety at school above everything else, whilst others may feel that the quality of sports provision, or the calibre of teachers is more important. For universities, some students could prefer one institution over another due to nightlife, the course, the distance from home, or the availability of scholarships for instance.

James’ wide-ranging and detailed presentation was well received at the conference, as shown by some of the feedback comments below:

“Interesting, came away with some great ideas.”

“Good thought provoking ideas.”

“Very relevant and excellent topic – could do with more time.”

“Always good to hear from marketing outside the education sector.”

If you would like to see a video of James’ presentation, a shortened version will soon be available on DJS Research’s YouTube Channel.

DJS Research Ltd conduct qualitative and quantitative research for universities, colleges, schools, awarding bodies, LSCs, Sector Skills Councils and professional associations within the industry. Along with James Hinde, Sharon Nichols is the agency’s education specialist, and has been involved in Market Research within the sector for over  15 years. Both James and Sharon are vastly experienced in carrying out branding and naming research, course demand research, learner satisfaction surveys, new product or course development and employer studies among others.

To see full details of DJS Research’s expertise in the education sector, please visit the relevant page on our website.

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