Exploring the branding and marketing communications strategies of Nottingham MBA in China.
[Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]
The MBA education becomes more popular nowadays. The competition amongst MBA programmes in different countries is being increasingly fierce. In order to diversifies the source of students and expend the market, MBA programmes pursue to entry overseas markets. As a result, the competition of the MBA market is changing from nationally to internationally. MBA programme managers start to apply marketing knowledge to competing for the students globally. As a high level and expensive, branding is deemed to be the key factor influencing student’s decision. In addition, marketing communications mix is treated as a major tool to support the brand equity. Therefore, the role of brand equity and marketing communication is being more important for MBA programmes. Nottingham University as an old UK university with reputation worldwide attracts a vast number of applicants every year, in particular Chinese students. However, in the past few years, the MBA recruitment of the university in China declined significantly. According to preliminary observation and the review of the interim report provide by the MBA office, it is estimated that the issues are related to the ineffective branding and marketing communications strategy. Therefore, based on the relevant theories, this study aims at researching the branding and marketing communications issues of the Nottingham MBA in the China market, in order to improve the performance of the recruitment of the university.
Two hypotheses about the brand equity and marketing communications performance of the Nottingham MBA in China have been made. Quantitative data are analysed in the study. The data are collected by self-completion questionnaire to Chinese working professionals. 553 questionnaires were sent and 109 samples were collected. The study adopts Mourad et al.’s brand equity assessment framework to measure the brand strength, brand awareness and brand image of the Nottingham MBA in China, while the marketing communication effectiveness is evaluated based on Kotler et al.’s IMC framework. The mean scores and correlation coefficients are used as the indicators of the test.
Through the calculation and the comparison of the means scores and correlation coefficients, hypotheses 1 and 2 have been proved. The main issues of the Nottingham MBA marketing in China are the low brand awareness, downgraded value by the Ningbo Campus, vague positioning and poor ineffective marketing communications mix.
The brand awareness fails to support the brand equity on the Nottingham MBA in China, while the marketing communications mix is also ineffective to create brand awareness. Creating brand awareness becomes the priority of the university in China. The Nottingham MBA should place more efforts on indentifying appropriate mediums and exploiting diversified marketing communication tools, in order to improve the recruitment performance in China. When promoting the MBA programme through advertising, promotion, personal selling, public relations and direct marketing, Nottingham University should make sure the information consistency and avoid over commercialism.
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