How do international students’ information seeking behaviour relate to marketing and communications strategy in international education?
Abstract of dissertation submitted for the MBA programme
The Business School, University of Roehampton, U.K.
Using the inductive approach of qualitative research to explore and highlight key factors in student information seeking for purchase or future study decision-making, then to inform marketing communications strategy and related practice, in international education and business.
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The inductive approach or mixed research methods were used, both quantitative and qualitative, to explore international education marketing according to stakeholders, management and students; a process of triangulation.
The research uses a streamlined version of grounded research methods to elicit key factors from international education sector stakeholders, based upon a purchase decision-making continuum or cycle. Following was development of a data collection instrument to quantify the factors highlighted according to dimensions or phases of education purchase objectives, information seeking, analysis and post purchase review.
The sample, although not statistically significant, was a culturally diverse cohort of online MBA students, able to offer insight into their attitudes, allowing triangulation with research and industry based literature, and key marketing stakeholder feedback.
A marketing and communications construct was developed, reflecting the process of purchase decision-making through phases with focus upon information seeking, word of mouth (WOM), new digital behaviours and how to approach in the workplace or industry.
A dynamic and ongoing strategy and system review is required according to how customers or students seek information. This is through ongoing investigation or consulting process that mirrors similar cyclical processes including review or testing of marketing message and communication targeting.
The process developed can be applied to marketing and communications strategy or system development, with broader application to investigation and review in the workplace. This allows empowerment and motivation of personnel, customers and stakeholders, through their input to ground the same strategies, systems or processes, for validity and reliability, increasing value.