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University of Southampton

Many of the emotional drivers came as a surprise to our client and challenged the University’s preconceptions of the needs of high-achieving undergraduates.

Background

The University of Southampton is a leading Russell Group research-intensive university, and is one of the top business incubator universities in the world.

This research was originally conducted by YouthSight, now part of Savanta.

The Challenge

Whilst statistics can vouch for the university’s reputable status, the University’s marketing team understood that facts and figures alone are simply not enough to win the hearts of applicants.

Prospective students make their university decisions based on many factors and often, it is the emotional factors that are uppermost in peoples’ consideration when choosing a university.

Southampton needed to identify these emotional factors in order to inform a new, more engaging undergraduate marketing student recruitment campaign.

Our approach

Our client chose to tackle the challenge by working with two specialist agencies: YouthSight for the market insight and a creative brand agency for the campaign strategy and execution.

We recommended a multi-stage approach, which began with an online community of target prospective undergraduates from the UK, EU and other international markets.

Participants completed a range of tasks, from personification exercises to video uploads, which revealed some key emotional drivers in the decision-making of the University’s target audience.

Many of these came as a surprise to our client and challenged the University’s preconceptions of the needs of high-achieving undergraduates.

Stage two of the research tested different approaches for the new campaign. We conducted creative workshops with prospective undergraduates to evaluate each concept and determine the campaign’s strengths and limitations, and the overall potential of each territory.

The final stage of research segmented the undergraduate market in order to ensure that prospective undergraduates would be targeted with the most relevant messages and types of communications at the right time.

The outcome

The University then took the findings from our research to a branding agency to use as a foundation for their new marketing campaign.

There were two very positive outcomes:

The University developed a campaign that had real emotional resonance, which is reflected in an increase in the number of quality applications.

There has been an increase in internal stakeholders’ appreciation of the value and benefit of strategic marketing to meet business needs. The project helped increase buy-in to the work done by the University’s innovative and dynamic marketing team.

This research was originally conducted by YouthSight, now part of Savanta.

YouthSight was our chosen market research agency throughout the entire project and were instrumental to the success of the campaign. They became an extension of our team and without them we wouldn’t have been able to develop the campaign

University of Southampton

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