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Relationship Marketing at Regional Higher Education Institutions


Confirmation of candidature presentation by Claire Tubman

Start Date

16th Aug 2017 3:30pm

End Date

16th Aug 2017 4:15pm


Education Video Conference Rooms:

  • Launceston: NH.A221c.Video
  • Hobart: SB.Hytten325.Video
  • Cradle Coast: CC.A119.Video

I am interested in the success of low socio-economic (LSES) students in regional universities and how this success may be influenced by marketing. Through the review of current literature, there is little evidence of any investigation or relationship between higher education marketing and student success. Marketing as defined by the American Marketing Association states that “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large’, for the purpose of this research marketing refers to both pre application and post enrolment stages of the student lifecycle. While it has been argued that student success is a subjective term determined by each individual based on their experiences, beliefs and values e.g. ‘being a role model’, ‘fulfilling dreams’, ‘having accomplishments’ (White, 2016) this research is focussing on the success of students undertaking higher education in Australia, the definition of success adopted is that of the Australian Federal Government, through the Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP) whereby success is considered the completion of course/program in which an individual was enrolled.

Clear factors which contribute to the success of LSES students at regional higher education providers are now published, these together with the Australian government’s regional participation goals within the widening participation agenda, it is my intention to connect these two significant bodies of knowledge; student success at regional universities and marketing higher education. This research is intended to contribute to theory and strategy development in regional locations.

Traditionally the framework for marketing strategy development, the 4 P’s of product, price, promotion and place have long been held as a guide in which marketers have structured their strategy and management. The marketing mix management paradigm has dominated marketing thought, research and practice since it was introduced almost 40 years ago. Today’s literature and practice is seeing a shift in this paradigm from a goods dominant logic (G-D) to a service dominant logic (S-D), where relationships are at the core of the organisations offering and culture, the concept of relationships builds on the ideas of commitment, trust, and loyalty. Influenced by globalization of business and the evolving recognition of the importance of customer retention, new theories and approaches have been emerging in marketing research (Gronroos, 2004), this shift in paradigm forms the basis of this research.

From a theoretical perspective, this research will focus on consumer-brand relationships, in particular commitment-trust theory, as a contributor to long term consumer centric relationships. Through this research these concepts will be explored to identify if and how consumer-brand relationships influence student success.

Marketing research has traditionally utilised a positive worldview where marketers have emphasised observable phenomena as an external viewpoint with a passive model of consumer behaviour. As a result, this methodology has neglected the consumer experience, the influence of the internal viewpoint and the subjectivity in consumer decision making (O'Shaughnessy 1985, cited in Marsden and Litter 2006). In contrast the constructivist or interpretivist model proposes a model in which consumers are active agents. The interpretivist paradigm will be utilised for this research, as the proper object of study is a cultural web of meaning and behaviour, only by understanding this cultural web can we identify and perceive the consequences of marketing activity (Anderson 1992, cited in Barker et al, 2001). It is proposed that a mixed methods approach will be undertake including predominately qualitative data collection and analysis including document reviews and telephone and face to face interviews. Qualitative data validation will be undertaken through quantitative survey data collection and analysis.