A Study of Consumer Preferences for Higher Education Institutes in Tehran through Conjoint Analysis

By Nazari, Mohsen; Elahi, Mahdi | Journal of Management Research, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

A Study of Consumer Preferences for Higher Education Institutes in Tehran through Conjoint Analysis


Nazari, Mohsen, Elahi, Mahdi, Journal of Management Research


Abstract

As the nature of the educational atmosphere grows more competitive, the role of marketing develops more meaningfully in this industry. One of the key aiding components of marketing effort is to understand consumers' preferences in their training purchase decision process. By implementing conjoint analysis, present study investigates how consumer do tradeoff between preferences of number of attributes and the importance they attached to each of these attributes. Result shows that the three most important attributes studied are word-of-mouth, trainer's academic qualification and trainer's practical experience. Findings of current study reveal which attributes are important to consumers and provide essential implications for marketers in developing actionable marketing communications.

Keywords: Consumer preference, Selection, Conjoint analysis, Educational Institute, Tehran

1. Introduction

Increase in demand for training services has intensified competition among existing training institutions, as well as establishment of new international institutions. In addition, many of these institutions implement different pricing strategies for offered courses. Given that, there are many available similar courses. Consumers must assess a range of alternatives in order to find one gain the best value. They generally base their assessment on information available in marketing materials provided byinstitutions and word-of-mouth.Nonetheless, services such as executive training can be difficult to evaluate.

Service have been classified into search, experience and credence(Darbi, 1973), of which credence property are the most difficult service to evaluate even after consumption(Iacobucci, 1996). Previous studies have depicted difficulty in evaluation of credence services due to a higher perceived risk than for physical product purchases(Iacobucci, 1996). Indeed, Iacobucci (1996)has advised to overcome the inherent intangibility of services and to reduce the perceived risks, marketers have to incorporate tangible symbols in their marketing communications to the consumers.

Researchers have mentioned that consumers commonly base their service decision on readily available information(Mattila, 2002). Several factors have been found to affect consumer service evaluation, including service provider expertise and trustworthiness(Erdem, 2004), corporate image and reputation(Lafferty, 2002)and personal recommendation(Mazzarol, 2002). Having insights into factors have most important contribution to evaluation of executive training and how consumers do tradeoff between these factors, providevaluable information to marketers.

Objectives of current study are to examine how consumers use information when they evaluate executive training decisions in Tehran. To conclude their preferences for training course selection, consumers consider what is important to them based on available information. Such considerations, consciously or unconsciously, lead to a trade-off between the attributes or aspects of courses that are important to consumers. An understanding of trade-off process and relativeimportance attached to the various attributes will help managers to devise effectivemarketing strategies. Marketers will be able to employ this information to communicate more effectively with service attributes that appeal to consumers.

Current study spots on attributes that differ among service providers. Namely, amount of training content detail, perceived expertise (academic and practical), institutional reputation, personal recommendations and price. These attributes have been identified as important factors in literature but their relative importance have not been examined in executive training. Other attributes such as training venues, environment, facilities, and customer services are of comparable standards among local institutions and therefore are unlikely to have any impact on the consumers' tradeoff process. …

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