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Using images and deep emotions in marketing strategy in higher education.Purpose – Understanding student value in the Higher Education Sector has traditionally been conceptualised and measured using cognitive indicators, such as the National Student Survey (NSS). This thesis aims to build on the body of literature of service excellence, and alternative market sensing methods, such as the role of images and emotions in determining a deeper level of value for consumers. To apply a market sensing method to understand student value in an ever increasing complex environment, thus enabling a framework to develop differentiation in marketing strategy and communications for a University Business School. Design/methodology/approach – The focus for this inductive study was a Business School in which both undergraduate and post graduate students (n=24) were interviewed at depth, using a photo elicitation methodology based on Zaltman’s Metaphor Elicitation Technique, (ZMET) to explore their relationship with the business school and their real value. The process consisted of the candidate choosing a number of images, in-depth interview and then constructing emotion/value maps to elicit thoughts and feelings of value and relationship with the business school with respect to their stage of the journey. Findings – Results from the study found a number of emerging themes that were more significant at different stages of the transformational student journey. The study found that students resonated with similar images at respective stages of their programmes, and that a deeper level of understanding of the students emotional factors relating to their relationship with both the Business School and University, thus finding that an emotion based methodology was a better predictor of understanding student value, than cognitive measures of satisfaction such as National Student Survey (NSS). The findings from the ZMET based methodology also enabled better differentiation for market strategy, emotion based marketing communication and identified areas of operational process that could be improved through the internal marketing towards the internal customer. Originality/Value – The thesis establishes the need to use emotional depth methodologies when understanding the customer, to create differentiation in market strategy and customer driven market communications. This is the first time a Zaltman based methodology has been used in the UK Higher Education sector, specifically understanding student value. The thesis also contributes knowledge by extending the ZMET methodology with the development of a “Deep Value Mining” (DVM) depth gauge for understanding quality of data obtained through research methodologies understanding customer value. The research also created Emotional Value Maps (EVM) as a construct tool, creating a further extension to the ZMET methodology, to help researchers understand the association between value and emotion on a customer journey enabling the understanding of what’s really important to the participants of the research subject.