Higher Education Marketing Mix

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CHAPTER 3
MARKETING’S ROLE IN HIGHER EDUCATION

3.1

INTRODUCTION

Chapter 2 introduced some of the major changes and trends that have taken place in the higher education environment both internationally and locally. Although higher education institutions can be classified as non-profit organisations, the challenges discussed in Chapter 2 necessitate higher education institutions to take on the organisation-like behaviour of profit organisations and to become more marketingoriented. An understanding of the environment in which higher education institutions operate, provides an essential background against which to understand and assess the benefits of focusing on students as customers. If higher education institutions understand the landscape in which they operate, they can begin to plan to serve the market effectively and efficiently with their marketing strategy. Being marketingoriented requires that organisations have knowledge on external forces (as explained in Chapter 2), but also knowledge on customers’ needs and wants (to be addressed in Chapter 4).

It is against this backdrop of changes in the environment, such as the decrease in government funding and the increase in competition, that the need for marketing in higher education can be seen. In order to survive and to develop a sustainable competitive advantage in a changing higher education landscape, higher education institutions should satisfy the needs of their customers by adding value. Institutions should provide more benefits to their customers than competitors if they want to stay competitive. In the competitive environment in which higher education institutions operate (refer to Chapter 2), enhanced customer satisfaction may be one of the ways in which institutions can create and sustain a competitive advantage. This can be achieved with the effective application of the marketing mix elements. Marketing, and more specific a market-orientation, can provide a detailed understanding of the needs of customers and ensure that higher education institutions address the needs in as

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efficient and comprehensive manner as possible. In short, higher education institutions need to set marketing objectives and formulate a marketing strategy. Given the market-oriented focus and importance of the marketing mix elements, the main focus of this chapter will be on higher education institutions’ formulation and implementation of the elements of the services marketing mix. This chapter will explore the literature available on the changing role of marketing, the marketing concept, market- and marketing-orientation, consumer behaviour and the integration of all the units of a higher education institution to formulate a service product strategy, price strategy, distribution strategy, communication strategy, people strategy, physical evidence strategy and process strategy in order to meet the needs of students.

3.2

THE CHANGING ROLE OF MARKETING

Marketing plays a major role in any organisation and is viewed by Lamb et al. (2004:5) as a process that starts with identifying customer groups, finding out about their needs and wants, matching what the organisation can offer with what the customer wants and then effectively communicating and selling it to the customer. Although the primary aim of marketing is to satisfy the needs of customers, it involves a cluster of activities such as product/service innovation, design, development, distribution, advertising, selling and how the product/service is acquired and used by the customer. Machado and Cassim (2002:2) regard marketing as the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organisational objectives. Mowen (1995:7) states that the importance of understanding consumer behaviour is found in the definition of marketing as a human activity directed at satisfying needs and wants through a...
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