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Marketing Environment

Standing among the finest of universities among the world, University of Melbourne is known as a reputed higher education institution for research and education in Australia. Established in 1853, the university not only represents the educational history in Australia but also epitomizes a rich educational culture that can shape the future society. It university aims to achieve a stature of the finest university while addressing the changes in its national and global environment along with increasing demand in the field of education and research (The University of Melbourne, 2017).

In current scenario where students are faced with many choices to choose a particular educational institution for higher studies, the role of marketing in creating awareness and business promotion by developing strong brand image becomes critical. The following report provides a marketing plan for the University of Melbourne. The report provides an in-depth overview of different aspects associated with developing a successful marketing plan along with the strategies used, resource allocation and expected outcomes for the same.

Even though Australian education is experiencing a rise in enrolments in higher education (56% in 2006 to 64% in 2016 among young females and 55% to 61% among young males), there exists a wide gap in people willing to pursue higher education at university level. This is clear from the survey conducted by Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017), wherein it was found that 83% of the total population belonging to the age group 15 to 24 years is engaged in studying in Australian market but this figure declines to 45% when Australian people aged 20 to 24 years are considered. This data indicates that existing educational institutions need to initiate marketing campaigns that can attract students to continue with their higher studies by emphasizing the benefits of higher education for the personal and professional growth.

With more than 35,000 students enrolled currently, The University of Melbourne offers a wide range of courses to that are sub categorized into 11 separate academic units to attract students with varied interests and academic backgrounds (The University of Melbourne2, 2017). It offers degrees in subjects like engineering, medicinal science, humanities, business accounting and law, performing and visual art, and management that attracts students from different countries to pursue higher education in the field of their interest. Moreover, the university implements innovative learning technologies and teaching aids to facilitate a gratifying learning environment and experience for the students.

Competitive Analysis

As such, the university can target the students based on demographic, geographic and psychographic segmentation factors. Based on demographic factors, the university’s target customers may include students aged between 15 to 25 years of age with a primary focus on students between 19 to 25 years. Additionally, with its low cost fee structure, the university can focus on middle to lower income group students who are keen on pursuing higher studies. Based on geographic segmentation, the university can target both domestic and international students. At international front, the university can target students from Asian countries like China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. The psychographic characteristics of the target students may include factors like costs, reputation, campus, image, flexibility, mode of learning and other such factors.

Market research in an essential part of marketing strategy and it not only involves gathering information regarding target market or competitors but also assessing the macro environment that can support or hinder the success of marketing activities (Business Queensland, 2017).

Political environment: 

In Australia, the government supports and promotes educational institutions through grants and subsidies. Moreover, the government has relaxed international student visa norms to promote enrolment of international students in Australian universities (IBIS World, 2017). However, recent incidents of violence against international students have put the issue of safety under jeopardy thereby questioning the political and governmental effectiveness to safeguard foreign students (Ross, 2014).

Economic Environment:

The Australian economy is experiencing strong and consistent growth of 2.3% over the past few years (Trading Economics, 2017). This indicates that students can easily pay for higher education. Additionally, the education industry is also experiencing an annual growth of 4.5% and with government’s commitment to provide over $15 million though grants, the education sector are expected to develop and provide quality education to students (Department of Education and Training, 2017).

Social Environment: 

Australia being a multi-cultural economy is popular among people from across the globe for personal and professional development (Papadopoulos & Heslop, 2014). Moreover, high skill requirements in professional life along with a need for flexible learning is changing student’s expectations from universities thereby shaping the curriculum and learning opportunities along with an increasingly student-centric approach towards service delivery by the universities (Doherty, Steel and Parrish, 2012).

Technological Environment: 

Australia is far ahead in terms of technology usage and adoption of new technology, which provides immense opportunities for educational institutions to innovate and develop their market offerings. It also provides opportunities to change academic structures and practices to make knowledge accessible through innovative channels like mobile applications, webinars, social media and simulation technologies (Doherty, Steel and Parrish, 2012).

Situation Analysis

The University of Melbourne faces competition not only from its domestic competitors but also from educational institutions present in the global market. It is for this reason that conducting an in-depth analysis of the strategies used by competitors is necessary to keep pace with them and fulfill the business objectives (Rawwas, Arjoon and Sidani, 2013). As a result, University of Melbourne uses market survey to identify and assess its potential competitors and focus on the products offered, technology and infrastructure used by its competitors like CQ University, Monash University, University of Sydney and others.

As with respect to its global competitors, Melbourne University stands at 42nd place and 2nd place in Australia according to QS World University Rankings 2015-16 (Tucker, 2016). While the university has to compete with many players at global level, Australian National University (ANU) that is placed 1st in Australia by QS World University Rankings 2015-16 is its major competitor in the domestic market. While both universities are among the top Australian universalities, ANU is better known for its courses in the field of arts & humanities and natural science while University of Melbourne is popular for engineering & technology, life sciences & medicine, and social sciences (Tucker, 2016). However, in terms of their marketing strategies, both the universities are positioned in a similar manner. The focus of the marketing plan of University of Melbourne is to remain a leading education provider in the 21st century by focusing on research, learning and knowledge with campaigns like Growing Esteem and “Dream large” (Davis, O’Brien and McLean, 2017). Similarly, the ANU’s marketing strategy focuses on maintaining the position of ANU as world’s greatest university by achieving excellence in education, teaching, research and culture (ANU, 2017). Thus, University of Melbourne has a very close competitor to fight with in the domestic market with almost similar vision and objectives.

Situation analysis helps in identifying the strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to the organisation under scrutiny. Undertaking a situation analysis while formulating marketing strategies can be helpful in identifying the positive (i.e. strength and opportunities) and negative (i.e. weakness and threats) aspects about the institution. These aspects can be further used to promote the institution and to address the weaker aspects by positioning the institution accordingly. The situation analysis for University of Melbourne is as follows:

Strength

· It is the second oldest university in Australia and ranks 2nd in Australia as per QS World Rankings (Tucker, 2016)

· University reputation

· Wide range of courses offered

· High quality infrastructure

· Low and affordable fee structure

Weaknesses

· The current internal resources possessed by university are comparatively less competent

· Less number of campuses at regional levels limits the target area  

Opportunities

· International students can be targeted through technology in marketing activities

· It can use technology to innovate its market offerings

· Introduction of off-beat advance subjects like films and cinema, music and other courses can increase enrolments

Threats

· Intense competition among other top Australian and global universities

· Minor presence in Asian market threatens the market share

· Changing social preferences and technology

Appropriate positioning of a brand by targeting the audience and clearly defining the institution’s value, unique aspects and goals to differentiate it from its competitors is necessary to establish a unique identity and brand recognition (Pride, Huges and Kapoor, 2016).  The University of Melbourne is among the oldest established academic institution where its rich history, culture and knowledge are its valuable assets. University of Melbourne aims to position itself as a strong global brand that excels in research development, research, training and knowledge transfer by targeting domestic and international students.

Brand Positioning

In view of its positioning strategy, University of Melbourne intends to use a mix of different media like social platforms, advertisements, digital platforms and offline marketing to generate brand awareness and increase its brand value in the global market.

Marketers need to clearly define the marketing aims and promotional objectives to stay focused and achieve desired success from the marketing strategy. Concise presentation of aims and objectives helps in identify the actual requirements of marketing team and create a focused strategy (Kotler and Keller, 2015). The marketing plan for University of Melbourne aims at enhancing the institution’s reputation, strengthen its brand value, encourage engagement at community level and reinforce the relevance of the university among its target market.

  • To develop and execute a marketing plan that helps in achieving University’s overall target enrollment of students with culturally rich diversified backgrounds and high-quality student body.
  • To create an internal and external communications plan that strengthens and promotes the University’s brand value, brand identity, accomplishments and excellence in different fields of education and research.
  • To create a marketing plan that promotes, enhances and broadens the awareness of the quality, scope and benefits of research and higher education among the target

Marketing mix can be seen among the most widely used tools to develop different business strategies (Shaw, 2012). The marketing team of the university primarily focuses on using 4Ps of marketing mix to attract the target customers. Use of these elements while developing a marketing strategy helps in taking a holistic view towards marketing strategy and ensures success in improving the visibility of the university.

Product: University of Melbourne provides wide array of subject options like business and economics, law, accounting, humanities, medicine, science, and management to encourage students to opt subjects of their interest. In addition, the University also focuses on advance subjects like mass communication & journalism, visual arts, and foreign language to promote offbeat fields among target market. Currently, it offers courses in more than 80 study areas and a bouquet of over 270 graduate courses thereby allowing the prospective students to choose the field of their interest and liking (University of Melbourne3, 2017).

Price: The aim of Melbourne University’s marketing strategies is to encourage students to complete their higher education. Thus, the university keeps the price level of its fee structure low so that students belonging to different income group families can afford good education at reasonable prices. The same is true in case of international students who aim to study abroad.  Additionally, it provides scholarships in the field of academics and research to qualified international and domestic students to encourage more enrollments (University of Melbourne4, 2017).

Place: The University of Melbourne’s main campus is built in a manner that it effectively takes care of the requirements of students and teaching staff (Lusch & Vargo, 2014). Not only is the campus well connected with the urban Australian cities through transport facilities but also has excellent infrastructure including a high-class library, sports facility, conference rooms and study rooms where students can engage themselves. Melbourne University also provides good quality accommodation for the students so as to make their education experience a joyful one without any hassles of arranging living space and food. 

Promotion: The marketing team of University of Melbourne will use offline and online marketing platforms to disseminate information to students at international and domestic level. In order to promote its marketing aims and objectives, the university can use the following promotional tools:

Tools

Strategy

Tactics

Website Management

Create university website

The marketing team can use university website to update contents, upload research videos and assess the number of visitors using analytical tools

Publications

Create online magazine and bulletins and printed yearly books

The university can create a website infrastructure that allows updating of bulletins and online magazine in engaging manner. Also, it can publish yearly magazine to review the annual events, achievements and happening of the university.

Social Media

Create accounts on different social media platforms for active promotion

The marketing team can create accounts on media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest to increase followers, likes and visitors through regular, timely and relevant updates for target audience and create position by being on ‘top of their minds’ on social media

Advertising

Use television and radio for advertising

The university can create emotional content and success storied in the form of videos and plays to be advertised on television and radio

Events Marketing

To undertake semi-annual or annual events like program information sessions, sports events, cultural events, etc.

The university can conduct graduate information sessions, undergraduate open house, annual inter college events and the likes to create awareness and display its creativity and excellence among target audience and competitors.

Media Relations

Create relations with public through local and international newspapers, and news channels, conferences and events

The university can proactive pitch the latest events and happening of the university through news outlets to increase visibility and brand image of the university

In addition to marketing tools, the university plans to use customer feedbacks through surveys and direct marketing methods at domestic and international level to identify the change areas for improvement of institutional processes.

In a highly competitive environment, a organisation has to plan its strategies keeping in view not only the steps taken by its competitors, but also based on its strengths, market position and expected growth. Thus, it has to assess itself on factors like market share, relative growth, life of its market offering, etc. This assessment can be undertaken using tools like BCG matrix and product life cycle analysis to identify the actual position of the institution.

Keeping in view the popularity and rank of University of Melbourne with respect to its competitors, it can be assumed that the market share of university is relatively higher along with its growth. Thus, as per BCG matrix, the University of Melbourne stands among the cash cow category. This also calls for minimal investment to ensure that the high market share is maintained through milk and defend strategy (Wheelen and Hunger, 2013).

Additionally, the market offering of the university appears to be in the maturity phase of the product life cycle.

Thus, based on the above analysis, it is recommended that the university should follow the market penetration strategy through cost leadership as opposed to differentiation strategy followed by its competitors. This is because the market penetration strategy will be supported by the University’s low fee structure that cannot be easily achieved by its competitors as attaining low costs in the face of rising prices is not easy. However, the university can invest in higher growth areas to ensure its continued existence and new avenues to attract target audience.

To materialize the proposed marketing plan, financial resources are required. Moreover, keeping in view the intense competition and large number of choices for the target audience, it is rational to allocate considerable amounts to promotion activities to ensure that the intended message reaches the audience (Kotler and Keller, 2016). Thus, the following table represents the media and budget allocation for the proposed marketing plan:

Tools

Cost

Website Management

Ongoing Website: $0

Maintenance Cost: $1,500 annually

Research Videos: $5,000

Publications

Online Magazine: $8,000 - $10,000 for first issue

Online Bulletin: $0

Annual Yearbook: $10,000 - $12,000 (designing and printing)

Social Media

$0

Advertising

Television: $10,000

Radio: $2,500

Events Marketing

Undergraduate open house: $3,500 annually

Graduate information sessions: $3000 (promotional material, etc.)

Cultural events: $4,000 - $6,000

Media Relations

Newspapers and News channel Coverage: $1000

Conferences: $1,500

Hence, the expected marketing cost for University of Melbourne lies between $37,500 and $ 43,500.

Expected Outcome and Conclusion

Every marketing activity undertaken by institutions is expected to produce certain positive outcomes for it. The proposed marketing plan is expected to:

  • Increase the income of university from domestic and international activities. It is expected to increase domestic enrolments by 17% to 20% and international enrolments by 15% by the end of planned period.
  • Maintain the strong brand value and identity in the Australian and International market through effective positioning as a centre for education and research excellence.
  • To maintain its position among the top most university in Australia and across the globe.
  • Increase the market visibility by improving website visitors and engagement of target customers and alumni.
  • Increase the proportion of news stories and marketing content showcasing activities in university to enhance awareness among target audience

Thus, the marketing plan delivery of University of Melbourne will be integrated across different platforms to ensure that all the resources and tools at hands are effectively utilized to reap maximum return on investment. The goal of increasing awareness, strengthening market visibility and brand identity along with increasing university enrolments lies at the heart of the proposed marketing initiatives. The current macro environment is demanding with significant changes and high competition and implementation of the proposed strategy will help the university to exploit the growth opportunities by enhancing its quality and differentiating its market offering from its competitors.

References

ANU (2017). Strategic Plan 2017 – 2021. Retrieved from https://www.anu.edu.au/files/review/ANU_Strategic_Plan_2017_21.pdf

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017). Education and Work, Australia, May 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/0/556A439CD3D7E8A8CA257242007B3F32?Opendocument

Business Queensland (2017). Develop a Marketing Strategy. Retrieved 31 May 2017, from https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/marketing-sales/marketing-promotion/strategy

Davis, G., O’Brien, L. and McLean, P. (2017). Growing in Esteem: Positioning the University of Melbourne in the Global Knowledge Economy, Educause. Retrieved, 31 May 2017 from https://www.educause.edu/research-and-publications/books/tower-and-cloud/growing-esteem-positioning-university-melbourne-global-knowledge-economy

Department of Education and Training (2017). Higher education reform package. Retrieved from: https://www.education.gov.au/higher-education-reform-package-0

Doherty, I., Steel, C., and Parrish, D. (2012). The challenges and opportunities for professional societies in higher education in Australasia: A PEST analysis, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28 (1), 105-121.

IBIS World (2017). University and Other Higher Education in Australia. Retrieved from: https://www.ibisworld.com.au/industry-trends/market-research-reports/education-training/university-other-higher-education.html

Kotler, P. and Keller, K. (2016). Marketing Management: Global edition, 15th edn. Sydney: Pearson Education Australia Pty Ltd.

Lusch, R. F., & Vargo, S. L. (2014). The service-dominant logic of marketing: Dialog, debate, and directions. Routledge.

Papadopoulos, N., & Heslop, L. A. (2014). Product-country images: Impact and role in international marketing. Routledge.

Rawwas, M. Y., Arjoon, S., & Sidani, Y. (2013). An introduction of epistemology to business ethics: A study of marketing middle-managers. Journal of Business Ethics, 117(3), 525-539.

Ross, J. (2014). International students’ fears for their safety needs a reality check, The Australian. Retrieved 31 May 2017, from https://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/international-students/international-students-fears-for-their-safety-needs-a-reality-check/news-story/413ca79a7c2c9ae2e4e4948b3d349952

Shaw, E. H. (2012). Marketing strategy: From the origin of the concept to the development of a conceptual framework. Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, 4(1), 30-55.

Trading economics (2017). Australia GDP Growth Rate. Retrieved 31 May 2017, from https://tradingeconomics.com/australia/gdp-growth

Tucker, L. (2016). Australian National University or University of Melbourne?, Top Universities. Retrieved, 31 May 2017 from https://www.topuniversities.com/where-to-study/oceania/australia/australian-national-university-or-university-melbourne

University of Melbourne (2017). Stratgey and Leadership. Retrieved 30 May 2017, from https://about.unimelb.edu.au/strategy-and-leadership

University of Melbourne2 (2017). University Statistics. Retrieved 31 May 2017, from https://about.unimelb.edu.au/tradition-of-excellence/university-statistics

University of Melbourne3 (2017). Course Search. Retrieved from https://coursesearch.unimelb.edu.au/?gclid=CjwKEAjw07nJBRDG_tvshefHhWQSJABRcE-ZKg6qczer5QDMgIgGJ1HFnARYrqEj1MfpsSceUPumEhoC9Hfw_wcB

University of Melbourne4 (2017). Scholarships. Retrieved from https://mbs.unimelb.edu.au/study/scholarships

Wheelen, T. and Hunger, J. (2013) Strategic Management and Business Policy, 13th ed. NY: Pearson Education.

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