Formulating a customer-driven marketing strategy for higher education institutions
The education services environment has changed over the past few decades. The once safe havens are now experiencing extreme competition not only nationally but across the globe. The competition is based on acquiring students, resources and employees. The challenge is not only to acquire or recruit the students, but also to retain them. Higher educational institutions should strategise to become not only locally relevant, but also globally competitive. Increased competition within the higher education sector compels change to the business model of the institutions. The changes encompass the organisation as an entity, the various small business units and the marketing departments. Attention should be paid to the brand and brand awareness initiatives of the institutions, the marketing efforts formulated to resonate with the customers’ needs and product quality and service delivery to present value for money to the customer. The main goal of this study was divided into three focus areas. The first was to determine the choice factors both learners and their parents consider when deciding on a future higher education institution. Additional to the already mentioned it aimed to evaluate the appropriateness and preference of communication platforms and media used by higher education institutions to disseminate institutional and product offering to prospective students. The third factor was to determine how involved Grade 10 and Grade 11 learners were with the decision making process of future higher education institution. Thus prior to them reaching the final year of formal high schooling. The findings revealed from the study were formulated as recommended constructs or factors to be included in the institutional marketing mix which forms the foundation of the institutional marketing strategy. The study adds to the national and international research on the topic. This is specific to support South African research which is rather limited compared to international research. The information can be used by other researchers as a basis for future research into the field of marketing in education.