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University of the West of England

Testing marketing concepts for the international market

The brief

UWE Bristol have developed a new concept for marketing their undergraduate and postgraduate course offerings. The aim of this research was to investigate how fit for purpose this concept would be for international audiences at UG and PG as well as sense-check the approach for home audiences.

Our approach and methodology

Shift Learning conducted 4 online focus groups with prospective students so that they could evaluate and feedback on campaign concepts. Stimulus was presented to the respondents in the groups in order to encourage and lead the discussions. Challenges of the project included a tight turnaround of 3 weeks and difficult respondent group territories including Nigeria, Malaysia, India and Thailand. However, Shift Learning was able to complete the project to schedule and recruit a sample that contained a mix of demographic attributes, including relevant tariffs and subjects.

The use of an online focus group methodology meant that the participant group could be reflective of a wide geographic spread. Groups were also over-recruited in order to counter drop-outs and, as a result, there was an average of 7 prospective students per group. The groups were 90 minutes long, allowing us to gain feedback on a range of different stimuli at length.

The online focus group methodology allowed for a broad range of attitudes to be captured quickly and efficiently and enabled UWE Bristol to gain in-depth insight into prospective students’ perceptions and understanding of their marketing concept.

Delivering results and value to our client

Shift Learning provided UWE Bristol with comprehensive findings in the form of a report and a presentation, these highlighted the following results:

  • Key considerations of prospective students when applying to university
  • Where prospective students find information to support their decisions
  • Perceptions of UWE Bristol
  • Initial reactions to the marketing concept
  • Reactions to developed marketing materials
  • Overall understanding of the new concept
  • Recommendations around marketing and concept development