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Navigating change in higher education has never been more challenging. In higher education, emphasis on graduate outcomes is increasingly attracting attention not only from students who have legitimate concerns about employability but by employers who are stressing the importance of a range of attributes for the 21st century workforce.
Griffith University, a predominantly Brisbane-based University, from next year, will introduce across campuses a trimester system listing as many as 35 of its 200+ degree programs with a fast track option. Some 3-year degree programs will be able to start and complete in 2 years.
Information source: Universities Australia – Griffith University Profile
Brands signal information to customers (Iacobucci, 2015). Higher education providers promote products that seek to differentiate from other providers through different content and delivery mechanisms to produce enhanced benefits and experiences that demonstrate customer value both tangible and intangible. The Australian Qualifications Framework assures the nation’s “core” products and TEQSA assures institutions across the sector. The value-add and to varying degrees the intangible elements around the services and experiences of the products available is where institutions also obtain comparative advantage. Balaji, Roy and Sadeque (2016) found that university brand knowledge and university brand prestige played key roles in student-to-university identification.
Online promotional videos on Australia university websites are a form of institutional branding that market the experience of study both from a position of independent strategic positioning, as well as from various affective lifestyle characteristics using Australia as a destination of choice particularly for the international student market (Gottschall and Saltmarsh, 2016).
Griffith University’s Own Branding Environment
New product development
Implementing a customer-driven strategy requires much more than simply placing a product to market (Kotler, Burton, Deans, Brown and Armstrong, 2013). The strategic decision to introduce a trimester model leverages Griffith’s existing brand equity to entice customers to buy something new. The operationalisation of this strategy will see line extensions through new course offerings across, for example, undergraduate programs. This new model also accounts for product category extensions through increased depth of a product line offered by different discipline/academic groups and delivery modes.
Griffith’s ideation of this new product offering is in response to sector challenges as well as to its local markets and competitive environment. Griffith is operating in both product development and introductory phases. According to Griffith’s FAQs program offerings are still being developed and availability will depend on degree popularity and market demand. As described by Paul Weston, Griffith’s top-down approach is supported by statements made in the official FAQs prepared in advance to differentiate itself from its Brisbane-based competitors and directly compete with its primary Gold Coast competitor (Bond University), a significant growth corridor for Queensland and for Griffith.
Kotler et al (2013) argue that because products and services are becoming more commoditised, there is increased emphasis on the customer experience. The company offering a new product to new and existing markets does so on the basis of a mutually beneficial exchange (Iacobucci, 2015). Other distinguishing characteristics of Griffith’s products, market segments, and experiences in the consumption of products include: restricted offerings of majors across campuses; different markets attracted to different campuses; different eligibility criteria (such as entry scores); different teachers; campus facilities etc.
Depending on the scale of implementation, this market positioning has potential to be a monumental undertaking: course re-structuring; reconfiguration of units to deliver content in shorter teaching periods; changes to industrial environments and local workload allocations to accommodate increased teaching responsibilities; increases in timelines and services; and additional logistics involved in supporting services effectively. Product characteristics influence adoption (Kotler et. al, 2013) and the offerings facilitate student take-up through:
Relative advantage – Faster completion of degree programs; differentiation from Brisbane-based rivals; directly competes within Gold Coast region (growth corridor).
Compatibility – Depending on satisfying needs and wants, consumers could enter the job market earlier than other product offerings.
Complexity – Concept easy to understand.
Trialability – Course structures promote flexibility for accelerated study facilitating students to trial.
Observability – The new study regime can be experienced, observed and described to others.
Balaji, M.S., Roy, S.K. and Sadeque, S. 2016. Antecedents and consequences of university brand identification. Journal of Business Research. In Press. Available online 27 January. Accessed 21 April. Weblink: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0148296316000308
Bridgestock, L. 2012. QS Top Universities. “Fast-Track Degree Programs”. 6 March. Accessed 21 April 2016. Weblink: http://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/choosing-university/fast-track-degree-programs
Gottschall, K. and Saltmarsh, S. 2016. ‘You’re not just learning it, you’re living it!’ Constructing the ‘good life’ in Australian university online promotional videos. Discourse: Studies in the Cutlrual Politics of Education. DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2016.1158155 Accessed 21 April 2016.
Griffith University. 2016. “Achieve More. Trimesters at Griffith Coming Soon”. FAQs. Accessed 20 April 2016. Weblink: https://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/797450/Trimesters-FAQs-page.pdf
Griffith Unviersity. 2016. Fast Track Degrees. “Do Business sooner with a two year degree”. Accessed 21 April. Weblink: https://www.griffith.edu.au/business-government/griffith-business-school/programs-courses/two-year-degrees
Griffith University. 2016. “Degree and Career Finder”. Search results. Accessed 21 April. Weblink: https://degrees.griffith.edu.au/Search/Results/Page/1?q=%2FhSjqR6AtSi4GW6dCsBXG1JIukE%3D
Iacobucci, D. 2015. Marketing Management. First Edition. Cengage Learning, Stamford, USA.
Kotler, P., Burton, S., Deans, K., Brown, L. and Armstrong, G. 2013. Marketing. Ninth Edition. Pearson Australia. New South Wales, Australia.
Weston, P. 2015. “Three-semester year to entrice overseas students to Gold Coast’s Griffith University”. Gold Coast Bulletin. 28 June. Accessed online 20 April 2016. Weblink: http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/gold-coast/threesemester-year-to-entice-overseas-students-to-gold-coasts-griffith-university/news-story/de67c7d8507b7ec79c3782bffdf99701
Universities Australia. 2016 (January 7). “Griffith University Profile”. Accessed 21 April 2016. Weblink: https://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/australias-universities/university-profiles/Griffith-University/Griffith-University#.Vxg2O4dJmUk