Academic journal article Family Relations

Marketing Factors Influencing the Overall Satisfaction of Marriage Education Participants

Academic journal article Family Relations

Marketing Factors Influencing the Overall Satisfaction of Marriage Education Participants

Article excerpt

Marketing Factors Influencing the Overall Satisfaction of Marriage Education Participants*

Seventy-one married couples attending marriage education workshops were surveyed regarding price, product, place, people, and promotional marketing factors influencing their overall satisfaction as workshop participants. Findings suggest both similar and unique marketing factors influenced husband.s' and wives ' satisfaction. Recommendations for family life researchers and educators are given.

A movement that began in the early 1960s, marriage education (ME) was designed to help individuals and couples expand their self and partner awareness, increase healthy self-disclosure of thoughts and feelings, improve mutual empathy and intimacy, and develop and enhance the use of effective interpersonal skills including communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. The outcome of such skill development optimally would be to help couples reach their fullest relationship potential (Arcus & Thomas, 1993; Hawley & Olson, 1995: Hof & Miller, 1981; Otto, 1976).

Outcome evaluations of ME programming have revealed both positive outcome effects for participants (Giblin, Sprenkle, & Sheehan, 1985; Guerney & Maxson, 1990; Mattson, Christensen, & England, 1990; Wampler, 1982; Zimpfer, 1988) and negative outcomes for participants (Doherty, Lester, & Leigh, 1986). However, in their meta-analysis of 85 ME studies, Giblin et al. (1985) found the typical enrichment participant was "better off" after intervention, in terms of relational outcomes, than 67% of nonparticipants. Thus, after reviewing a decade of ME outcome research, Guerney and Maxson (1990) concluded that "on average, enrichment programs were effective" (p. 1133). These findings were especially true when the enrichment programs were longer, involved participants' interpersonal experiences, included behavioral rehearsal program objectives, and relational growth was reinforced by booster programs to ameliorate the diminishing enrichment effects over time (Stahmann & Salts, 1993).

An area of ME research that has received limited scholarly attention has been the marketing of ME programs. The emergence of a marketing perspective is relatively new within the mental health profession (Ambrose & Lennox, 1988). In general terms, marketing involves six steps that include identifying and comprehending consumer needs, developing products to meet those needs, pricing the products to meet those needs effectively, informing the consumer that the products exist, delivering the products efficiently, and ensuring satisfaction during and after the exchange process between producer and consumer (Crane, 1993). As a mental health concept, marketing consists of an exchange process between producer and consumer with activities being designed to attract and retain potential consumers by identifying their perceived needs in order to offer or structure products, programs, or services that are appropriate for satisfying those same perceived needs (Ambrose & Lennox, 1988; Gibson, 1984; Mandell, 1985).

Regarding marketing within the ME context, Guerney and Maxson (1990) have stated that "the almost nonexistent area of enrichment marketing research seems to cry out for development" (p. 1130). Kieren and Doherty-Poirier (1993) have recommended that family professionals give more serious attention to the systematic design, collection, analysis, and reporting of relevant marketing issues (e.g., "What attracted a participant to attend?"; "Who was the gatekeeper?") associated with family life topics such as problem-solving and communication education. Marketing research would provide FLE educators with better information that helps to explain the interaction of components and conditions that make programs work best and most efficiently considering the types of audiences that purchase ME as a product or service (Arcus & Thomas, 1993; Gilchrist & Stringer, 1992; Stahmann & Salts, 1993). …

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