Katrin Obermeit’s Paper Digging Deeper: Exploring Mental Models of University Choice has been accepted to be presented at the 2014 Annual Conference of the Academy of Marketing in Bournemouth (UK).
Read the abstract:
Market segmentation is an important topic for higher education marketing managers and researchers. Segmenting the student population for recruitment purposes requires a comprehensive understanding of how students choose their preferred institution. Previous research merely focused on cognitive rational or, rarely, emotional choice factors used by students segmented according to socio-demographic criteria.
However, these criteria do not comprise information about the sense making process of prospective students. The aim of this paper is to suggest an alternative segmentation approach based on mental models. By employing the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique in interviews with 27 first-year bachelor students in Germany, we identified four ideal types of decision-makers with their respective mental models: the relational, the idler, the adventurer, and the utilitarian.
By means of these models we gain a profound understanding on how relevant rational and emotional issues are engaged in sense making of marketing signals when choosing a university. Moreover, contradictory results of previous research can be explained. On this basis, university marketers are provided with relevant insights to develop sophisticated strategies in order to identify and address the most promising target groups for their universities.