Brand Management
The Effect of Brand Image on University Preference

Article Details
Pub. Date : Dec, 2020
Product Name : The IUP Journal of Brand Management
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJBRM21220
Author Name Ebenezer Asare Effah
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Marketing
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 23

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Abstract

In the light of heightening competition in the global university education industry, the paper ascertains the relevance of university image in students' preference for higher educational institutions in Ghana, an emerging sub-Saharan African country. This inquisition is against the backdrop of liberalization of the industry which has resulted in a mixed public-private participation, particularly as institutions from Asia, Europe and America continue to encroach upon the fortunes of local operators. A qualitative approach using existing documents and in-depth interviews were employed in collecting data from students selected from four universities in Accra, Ghana's capital city. Thematic analysis was employed to analyze the data in addressing the objectives. The findings indicate that university image influences students' preference for university institutions in Ghana. Some consequences of university image identified included trustworthi-ness, positive students' evaluation of universities, graduate employability and pride of association emanating from students' sense of belonging to universities with positive images. The sample selection was limited to four universities and so the undergraduate population was not sufficiently probabilistically represented. A more elaborate study using a larger sample size from diverse university institutions would improve its external validity and hence generalizability of findings across university institutions in the sub-Saharan African region and, possibly, beyond. The increasing wave of competition in the universities industry calls for a departure from ad hoc application of traditional strategies that are anchored on tuition fee, physical infrastructure, teaching and learning facilities, haphazard new course introduction and uncoordinated marketing communication programs. The university management in the unique service environments of sub-Saharan Africa should consider the findings of this study useful and invest in their institutions' images as a sustainable differentiation strategy to instigate preference among the prospective student population and thus boost enrolments.


Description

Consumers respond favorably to brands that have distinct and strong brand images (Anselmsson et al., 2014; Du Preez, 2015; Jumiati and Norazah, 2015; and Chinomona, 2016), and students are no exception (Goia et al., 2014). The image of a Higher Educational (HE) institution influences the attitudes of its stakeholders, as it serves a critical component in the latter's evaluation and ultimately, perception of the institution's overall service quality (Finch et al., 2013; and Torres et al., 2015). For that reason, HE institutions are making frantic efforts to adopt successfully proven image theories from other service and product sectors to attract students (Hemsley-Brown and Oplatka, 2006; and Schofield et al., 2013). As observed by Paramewaran and Glowacka (1995), like organizations in the tangible products industry, universities consciously institute measures that differentiate them by developing management practices that highlight their uniqueness, portray their consistency and present them as credible, reliable, responsive and trustworthy in the eyes of their numerous stakeholders. Remarkable investments have therefore been made in programs that enhance universities' prestige for quality, based on the realization that universities with distinct and appealing images are likely to be more competitive (Behrman et al., 1998).


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