Literature Includes Writings, Journals, Articles, And Research
The review of literature includes a combination of contemporary writings, journals, articles, and research from management scholar, and consultants regarding the administration of academics institution and an emphasis on strategic marketing in the field of higher education.
The globe is enveloped in a credit crunch now a day, and the economy is shrunken vice versa. In the following connections, the competition is very high in the market to achieve its goals and objectives for the survival and prosperity of the organisation.
If an organisation (Ferral & Hartline, 2008) wants to achieve any chance to reach its goals and objectives successfully, it is must for it to set a game plan or a road map to get there. A strategy is a tool, which outlines the organisation's game plan for success. In the following connections, sound strategic planning is requiring at a number of levels in the organisation for effective marketing.
Higher education is very much competitive and technical. Only that university is successful which is offering best educational services and state of the art facilities to the students.
According to (Mazzarol & Soutar, Higher Education Marketing , 2002) Higher Education can be characterised as a service which is bought by students. They argue that intangibility as a distinguishing characteristic of a service applies particularly to education, where the specific nature of the service offering is difficult to explain. Another problem that characterises services is that of separating production from consumption. One of its principal outcomes is the need to involve customers in the production of the services (Booms & Nyquist, 1981), and this particularly the case for education because the student's own participation and input into their learning is a critical factor for success (Shuell & Lee, 1976). The heterogeneity of services poses significant quality control and therefore quality management has become a major focus of attention for education administrators (Mazzarol & Soutar, 1999).
Higher Education is a service that is particularly difficult to market due to the nature of the industry; it is not a product or service that is bought or consumed in the normal sense. (Naude & Ivy, The Marketing Strategies of Universities in the UK, 1999) recognise this point when as they argue that students are not just buying a degree, but the benefits that the degree can provide for their future, such as employment possibilities, status and the ability to choose their lifestyles. Mazzarol and Soutar (2002) argue that the demand for Higher Education has traditionally been driven by expectations of its ability to raise the economic and social status of the graduate. This point is also recognised by King (1995) who states that Higher Education is very much correlated to a persons' personal and economic development and is still in a great demand.
This all means that careful consideration must be taken when marketing a Higher Education Institution, making sure promises made through the marketing campaigns are known to all members of staff that are in contact with students, so that a consistent service is delivered to students throughout their time at the institution.
Because the marketing of Higher Education is relatively new, many universities are finding themselves operating in an unfamiliar environment, having to compete for students. This is recognised by Naude and Ivy (1999) who argue that recent environmental changes have forced academics institution to market themselves more aggressively and more widely in order to increase market share and attain in new markets. Kinnell (1989) argues that the interest in marketing within the tertiary education has largely resulted from concern over recruitment in recent years, which are based on changes in government policies and funding structures. She goes on to say that the need to generate revenue has forced institutions to adopt a marketing approach, as they are no longer operating in a seller's market. “Foreign students are being eagerly sought by so many institutions in a range of countries that competition for good students is keen” (Kinnell, 1989).
Morgan (1991) argues that like many other professional services, education has tended to shun marketing, but he still believes that marketing theories and concepts can be utilised successfully by Higher Education Institutions, and as a starting point it is essential to classify education as a marketable service. The point is emphasised by Conway, Mackay and Yorke (1995) who argue that competitive marketing strategies must be formulated and these must be customer focused with the aim to satisfy customer needs. In other words, Higher Education Institutions must become more market oriented in their approach to recruit students. They go on to say that it seems that many UK Higher Education Institutions are not very well prepared to respond to the increasingly competitive environment they are in, arguing that, “successful strategies depend on an understanding of the needs and wants of customers in the market in order to deliver the right goods and service effectively and efficiently” (Conway et al, 1995).
Kinnell (1989) emphasises the importance carefully planned marketing management by arguing that marketing is a key issue for Higher Education Institutions and that effective marketing programmes require the ability to balance the needs of both the institution itself and the potential students (the customers). She argues that the following issues must be considered for the success of such a programme: 1) determining the market segment; 2) ensuring that courses of study and welfare support services meet student's needs; 3) budgeting; and 4) implementing and evaluating the marketing programme (Kinnel, 1989).
The difficulty of marketing a college or university is emphasised by Jugenheimer (1997), who argues that other Higher Education Institutions are the greatest threat because they offer the same service, which can make it difficult for potential students to differentiate between them. In order to be different and stand out it might be easy to make claim and promises to persuade students to choose a particular institution. However, if these are not met when the student arrives at the institution, negative word of mouth, unhappy students and a bad reputation may well be the result (Jugenheimer, 1995).
Higher Education is a service purchased by students, but it can be particularly difficult to establish the essence of this service and consequently the marketing of it. It is a service that will repeatedly be bought however, the long term continuous delivery of high quality service is crucial.
When we talk about the Marketing of Higher Education Institutions then it is recall in our minds that it is a sort of Services, it is useful to define what is meant by a service and to identify the characteristics that are important to consider when distinguishing a service from a product.
Gronroos (1990) provides the following definition of a service:
“A service is an act or performance offered by one party to another. Although the process may be tied to a physical product, the performance is essentially intangible and does not normally result in ownership of any of the factors of production”
According to Palmer (2001) the essence of a service lies in the fact that it cannot be assessed using physical senses. “It is an abstraction which cannot be directly examined before it is experienced”. Kasper, Van Helsdingen and De Vries jr, (1999) bring the definition of a service into perspective through claiming that it is possible to compare and contrast a service provider with a magician; claiming that whereas the magician is trained to make visible things disappear, the service provider does the opposite in trying to make the intangible service more visible to the customer.
Zeithaml and Bitner (1996) recognises this when arguing that service organisations are those which do not have as their direct aim the production of tangible products which buyers will possess permanently. This idea is similar to that of Gronroos (1978) who states that: “the service is the object of marketing, i.e. the company is selling the service as the core of its market offering”.
The above definitions indicate that a service is something quite abstract and difficult to comprehend, which makes the perception of the service offered very subjective to the individual.
The Characteristics of Services
There are a number of characteristics that are inherent to all services that create the specific context in which a service organisation operates and that are important to consider when developing marketing strategies (Bateson, 1997). These characteristics are of services including:
- Inseparability (of production and consumption)
Heterogeneity refers to the potential for variability in the performance of services and problems of a lack of consistency that cannot be eliminated in services as they more frequently can be with goods. As services involve people in production and consumption, there is considerable potential for variability. According to Parkinson (1996) the heterogeneity of services suggests that standardisation becomes very difficult.
Bitner and Zeithaml (1987) argues that the issues of heterogeneity can affect quality control of the services because it is often very difficult to control the quality in performance that rely on people as one of the main inputs (cited in Bebko, 2000).
Perishability means that services cannot be saved, unused capacity in services cannot be claimed, and services themselves cannot be inventoried (Parasuraman et al, 1985). The Perishability of services is not a problem when demand is steady. When demand fluctuates however, service firms often have difficult problems. Parasuraman et al (1985 argues that this inability to store inventory and the difficulty of demand/supply synchronisation are considerable problems for service marketers.
The term inseparability means that services are produced and consumed at the same time, and that it is often difficult to separate the provider of the service from the service itself (Bebko, 2000).
As opposed to physical goods, which are produced, stored, sold and then consumed,, services are first sold, then produced and consumed at the same time and in the same place. In other words, services cannot be separated from their providers, whether these are people or machines. If a person provides the service, then the person is part of the service and both the provider and client affect the service outcomes (Bateson, 1997). Ultimately their behaviour can determine the level of satisfaction that the individual customers experience. The implication for management would be to ensure at all times that customers involved in the service do not interfere with each other's experience.
Bebko (2000) states that, intangibility is the dominant characteristics of services, because it is often not possible to feel, see, taste or smell a service. This is because a service is an experience or a performance, and not a physical object. Although many services include some sort of tangible element, the service performance itself is basically an intangible and therefore often difficult to grasp. According to Zeithaml and Bitner (1996) the single most important difference between products and services is the characteristics of intangibility, and that it is the characteristic that in fact is the key to determining whether or not an offering is a service or a product.
Bateson (1997) argues that because a service is an experience rather than a physical object, consumers' judgements about it often tend to be more subjective than objective. To reduce uncertainty buyers look for signs of service quality. They draw conclusions about quality from the place, people, equipment and communication material they can see. This means that the service marketers must make the service more tangible, as suggested by Kotler (1996): “the service provider's task is to make the service tangible in one or more ways”.
Kasper et al (1999) state that “the essence of service marketing is service” and therefore service quality is the foundation of services marketing. They argue further that from a marketing perspective, it is important to manage the relationships between the customers and the service providers, as these relationships often are the key success factors for service companies (Kasper et al, 1999). There are also other factors that must be considered; competitive pricing, quality and reputation also count in determining the success of market oriented service organisations (Kasper et al, 1999).
Lovelock et al. (1996) argue that because the environment in which a service company operates is so dynamic, effective marketing is a essential element for success. Running an effective operation may well still be crucial, but it no longer guarantees success. They argue that the service product must be tailored to customer needs, priced realistically, distributed through convenient channels and actively promoted to customers (Lovelock et al, 1996).
Gronroos' (1998) view is that a central part of service marketing is based on the fact that the consumption of a service is process consumption rather than outcome consumption, meaning that the process of providing the service is just as important as the outcome of the service; it is not the end result that is essential, but the way in which it is presented and how it is perceived by the customers.
For a service firm it would be valuable to educate the customers to make them more competent, for the very fact that they themselves are often actively involved in helping to create the service products (Lovelock et al, 1996). At the same time it is important to make sure that everyone involved in the production of the service, directly or indirectly, also represent the firm and create value for the customers. Gronroos (1998) suggest that everyone in the firm that comes into contact with customers are ‘part-time marketers' and that these part-time marketers typically outnumber the fulltime marketers of the marketing and sales departments several times over. It is therefore crucial that they are educated to look after the customer's needs. He argues that internal and development of skills and resources of the company are essential elements of success for service firm (Gronroos, 1998).
Service Marketing Vs. Product Marketing
According to Gronroos (1998) the most distinguishable difference between product and services marketing is the fact that in service marketing the product itself is missing; there is no pre-produced ‘bundle of features' that constitutes a product can be present. He argues further that only preparations for a service process can be made before the actual sale and partly prepared services can also exist. He states that there in many services also are physical elements or products that are part of the service process, although he underlines that these elements have no meaning in themselves unless they fit into the service process as an integral part of it (Gronroos, 1998).
Gronroos (1998) emphasises the difference between product and services marketing by starting that when there is no product, marketing becomes different: “because there is no ready-made, pre-produced object of marketing and consumptions, there is only a process that cannot begin until the consumer or user enters the process”.
The Services Marketing Mix
Three additional P's need to be added to the usual four P's for the marketing of services; these comprise of people, process and physical aspects (Bateson, 1997). Collectively these seven elements (the 7 P's) form what is termed the extended marketing mix for services.
People involves both consumers who must be educated to participate in the service, and employees, who must be motivated and well trained in order to ensure that high standards of service are maintained (Bateson, 1997). The nature of most services requires direct interaction between the consumer and personal representing the service provider's organisation. In many services, customers interact with each other as well as with staff. The high level of human involvement must be given much attention if customers are to maximise their use of the service and ultimately, their satisfaction (Cowell, 1984).
The environment in which the service is offered, and consumed, is central to the consumers understanding of the service and to his or her enjoyment and satisfaction (Kotler, 1996).
The direct involvement of consumers in the production of most services and the perishability of the service place greater emphasis on the process of the transaction for services. Behaviour of staff and flows of information affect the customers perception of the service product offer.
Consumer's attitudes are a key influence upon purchase decisions. As identified above, consumers are more likely to rely upon subjective impressions of the service and of the performer or seller of the service when purchasing. This reliance on subjective impressions may be of less importance in the purchase of tangible goods. Two dimensions of consumer's attitudes towards service sellers and service industries on which services are different from goods are:
- Services are perceived as being more personal than goods.
- Consumers are sometimes less satisfied with purchase of services.
The Buying Process
Difference between goods and services are particularly noticeable in the buying process. Because services are generally thought to be less tangible to consumers than physical goods, this may create communication difficulties for sellers of services (Grove, 1995).
It is suggested that consumers have more difficulty evaluating the quality of services that physical goods prior to, during and after consumption, largely because services are less ‘tangible' and subjectively experiences (Gronroos 1990, Shostack 1997). Grove (1995) suggests that this circumstances contributes to a more pronounced perception of risk associated with service products that should on balance “drive potential consumers to demand more factual information about services that goods prior to purchase” (Grove, 1995).
Marketing theory suggest that consumers use information sources in a distinctive way to reduce uncertainty associated with services (Murray, 1991). He argues that the greater the perceived risk is, the more likely the customer is to seek pre-purchase information about the product or service (Murray, 1991).
The concept of risk implies that most individuals make purchase decisions under some degree of uncertainty about a particular product and/or brand. As the intangibility of the product increases so does the perceived risk. Particularly in international situations, high involvement products will be associated with more risk that low involvement.
This section has established the essence of services marketing and the particular difficulties the service marketer may encounter. The major issue to be drawn from this is how subjective the understanding of the service delivery may be due to the difficulty of standardisation of services. This then emphasis the great importance placed on the people who deliver the service as well as those who directly or indirectly are involved in the production of it.