Higher education is facing an array of challenges that require a thorough understanding of the landscape to ensure institutions remain competitive and that resources are allocated to strategies that can be most impactful. The key to navigating these challenges and achieving success lies in understanding the market, anticipating student and industry needs and interests, and implementing strategies to be competitive.
That’s where market research comes into play. In this environment, making data-informed decisions is critical to success, and market research can shine a light on which decisions are the most optimal. Here are five ways market research in higher education is of paramount importance and how research can help your institution drive positive outcomes.
5 reasons why market research matters in higher education
1. Student demographics are changing and impacting enrollment.
Market research allows institutions to understand their current market share and how demographic changes may impact their enrollment in future years. By understanding population and demographic changes, your institution can develop intentional strategies to mitigate the impact of those changes—such as strategies to increase market share in key recruitment areas or to expand into new markets.
2. Student and labor market interest varies over time, and your academic program portfolio has to be responsive to those changing needs.
Marketing your current programs and developing new ones represent an enormous investment of financial, institutional, and human resources. It’s therefore imperative to have an understanding of prospective student interest in academic programs, student share among your competitors, and labor market needs that will impact program demand. Market research allows you to assess the relevance and demand for your academic programs, and also to think strategically in aligning your academic program portfolio to meet those needs in a way that supports your institutional mission.
3. Understanding your competitors is critical to gaining a strategic advantage.
Understanding which colleges and universities your institution competes with, which students you are competing for, and how you are positioned vs. those competitors provides the strategic foundation for understanding institutional strengths and weaknesses in the market. When done right, market research delivers key insights into your differentiators and your most dominant competitors, shining a light on how you can implement strategies to gain a competitive edge.
4. The perception of your Institution is important to your students, families, and industries.
All institutions have their own thoughts on how their institutions are perceived by students, families, industry, and their communities. But by conducting qualitative and quantitative market research with these groups, institutions are able to understand the perception of their institution within the market in a more direct way. RNL’s E-Expectations and Family Engagement reports illustrate the value of this research at a national level, and when you conduct these types of research projects more directly with the students, families, and markets you are trying to reach, it becomes invaluable.
5. Strategic price decisions can impact the likelihood that a student enrolls.
The cost of college is a top concern for nearly every student and parent, and you have to balance their willingness to pay for a college education with the revenue you need to provide a quality educational experience. This is where research on price sensitivity provides incredible value. It allows you to understand the potential responsiveness of students and their families to changes in price and aid, as well as their preference for your institution. A well-executed price sensivity analyis allows your institution to think strategically about price changes and ensure they are sensitive to the market tolerance for these changes.
Find out how you can use market research to stay a step ahead of your competition
We help hundreds of colleges and universities every year study their students, their markets, their competitors, and their opportunities. We are ready to help your institution as well. Reach out for a complimentary consultation with our enrollment experts, and we can discuss market research and enrollment strategies. It’s a great step toward gaining valuable insights that will give your institution an advantage in meeting your goals.
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Our enrollment experts are veteran campus enrollment managers who now work with hundreds of colleges and universities each year. Find out how we can help you pinpoint the optimal strategies for creating winning student search campaigns, building your inquiry and applicant pools, and increasing yield.