Discuss about the Consumer Behaviour for International Higher Education.
Analysis of Student’s Educational Choice Behaviour and Purchase Decision:
Decision making is never easy, especially when provided with a lot of offers. People need to go through a lot of decision making behaviour in order to arrive at a decision. Consumer Behaviour is generally the attributes shown by the customer while making a purchase decision for a particular kind of product. Student’s decision making is one form of consumer behaviour. A lot of research has got in to understand a student’s decision making process while choosing a particular university.
Analyzing student’s expectations and inclinations towards a particular university is difficult. According to Altbach, (2015), the difficulty lies in the way the higher education marketers participate in the process and the actions undertaken by the students related to the universities. Studying abroad has become a common factor recently. A lot of factors are taken into consideration by the students while selecting an university for study purpose. It is a student’s responsibility to assess the eminence of a particular country’s foreign study service industry.
A student’s purchase choice of a university can depend on the cultural and socio-economic lines. Certain students have different notions about various demographic factors like religion and sex, cultural factors inclusive of tradition, socioeconomic factors like income and other political or ethical segments present in the society (Bista, 2015). These all are the external factors and they all contribute to a student’s decision making. The cultural values along with financial help and marketing efforts of university inject a general anticipation of university life among students thinking of studying in foreign land (Woodall, Hiller, & Resnick, 2014). In a scenario where students make choices of universities, they are deemed as investors. So it becomes obvious on their part to check the utility and risk factors associated with the purchase.
The consequences of choosing a wrong university can be lethal as in the case with consumers generally falling for the wrong product or service without prior and proper information (Bruner II, & Pomazal, 2013). The opportunity costs associated with it gets higher. As per Karmarkar, Shiv, & Knutson, (2015), choices for students regarding different universities depends on the cost factor which the student has to invest and also the benefits and future expected earnings associated with it. Students need to put in a lot of research and hard work in making the right choice and gather valuable information about a university of their choice. Comparative brand research comes into picture where student has the choice of comparing different universities before making a choice. Their choice should be based on the cost-efficiency factor and their own interest attached to a particular course of study. Students should go for those universities from where they hope to get the most optimum level of utility. It is not possible for a consumer to have relative knowledge about every brand in the market; however it is his responsibility to collect data and information and assess the choice criterion (Solomon, 2014).
Sometimes family decisions also influence a student to go for a particular university which states that social values are of utmost importance too. Sometimes purchase choices or decisions are based on the university’s social image too. The decision should not be based only on checking a university’s operating licence or whether the Education Ministry has approved its operations, choice should be based on the university’s social recognition in domestic as well as international circuits and its ability to get hold of the local social resources.
The universities on their part need to have a team of qualified members dedicated in the work of attracting students through proper understanding of a student’s need and evaluating his ability for such a course. The team should itself have relevant experience in working in this particular sector along with other degrees and licence which makes their job easier. Only with in hand experience and a qualified degree will those professionals understand a student’s requirement, query and reverting them back with helpful information and guidance. Consumer’s purchase behaviour is influenced by the service he/she gets from the product or service rendered for (Ferrell, & Fraedrich, 2015). There is a lot of difference in promising and delivering the same in actual. Universities need to provide a quality service on a continuous basis which will ascertain its real value among the core group of standard qualified institutions. The job of universities does not end at admitting students and providing them the required knowledge and training. It’s a process that continues till the student completes his course and is ready to fly off with a good career.
Studying abroad needs investment of lot of money and time in the right place, in order to get the right results. However it is not risk free. It is one of the most important and costly decisions taken by Chinese individuals. Complexity exists among Chinese students and it is important on Australia’s institution marketer’s part to understand and investigate the requirements and work accordingly. There is a high demand among the Chinese companies to recruit Chinese people graduating out of Australian Universities. This has lead to more and more students opting to study in Australian Universities, with the number rising steadily each year.
Recommendations on Strategies Marketing Professionals Adopt to Influence Purchase Decisions:
Marketing Professionals are people whose sole responsibility is to influence a consumer in buying their company’s product. There have been a lot of surveys in concluding the factors responsible to influence a customer in buying a particular kind of product; here it is getting enrolled in a good university for a particular course of study.
-International specific scholarships are offered: it is an obvious fact those international students (example Chinese students) wanting to pursue their studies abroad receives a lot of financial assistance from family resources. But sometimes or rather most of the times there happen to be shortage of funds. International students should be given scholarships, especially to those who belong to a poor family background. Scholarships help in offsetting the shortage of tuition costs. A student who is a consumer here would be influenced by this marketing strategy of providing them with good scholarships.
-Valuable information should be made visible: Internationals students should get hold of relevant information about a particular university; their half requirements should get fulfilled from the information visible in the website which should be clear and precise. Students these days access internet through mobiles, so it has become a basic need for universities to create and design an international admission webpage which is mobile friendly. It is the duty of marketing professionals to get hold of good web designers and developers to come up with a webpage that is student friendly. The webpage should contain links related to visa applications, scholarship and financial assistance information and sample files of applications to help them understand how to get on with it (Staton, 2016). Toll free contact details of international admission counsellors should be provided along with their email address and geographical locations for the students to make use of them as and when required.
The main criteria of students studying abroad (Australia) are to receive a value-based education. It is a common belief among Chinese students that an Australian education degree would land them in good jobs with bright career prospects. Moreover, marketing professionals of foreign country universities schedule a lot of professionalised internship and work-study programs for students to get a taste of the corporate culture (Gummesson, & Grönroos, 2012).
Marketing professionals should make proper use of social media which has got enormous role in strategising and implementing marketing tools. It is a way to differentiate a university from its rivals, not only domestically but also internationally. It’s about creating an effective plan through proper objectives, clarified goals and choosing the right audience. It is done not only for recruitment purpose but also to check on the prospective students. Online marketing has gained the reputation of being the fastest way to reach to a consumer (Gao et al., 2012)
Universities have become brands and their brand values depend on how well their marketing team strategise things. With universities the problem is their brand reputation can be tarnished easily and quickly. There should be consistency in purpose.
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Karmarkar, U. R., Shiv, B., & Knutson, B. (2015). Cost Conscious? The Neural and Behavioral Impact of Price Primacy on Decision Making. Journal of Marketing Research, 52(4), 467-481.
Solomon, M. R. (2014). Consumer behavior: Buying, having, and being. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: prentice Hall.
Staton, M. G. (2016). Improving student job placement and assessment through the use of digital marketing certification programs. Marketing Education Review, 26(1), 20-24.
Woodall, T., Hiller, A., & Resnick, S. (2014). Making sense of higher education: students as consumers and the value of the university experience.Studies in Higher Education, 39(1), 48-67.