Are You a Brand or a Commodity?

Becky Morehouse

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The correct answer to the following question will likely spell the difference between marketing success and failure.

The question: Are your programs a brand buy or a commodity buy?

In other words, are you selling—and are students buying—prestige and all its trappings, or are you selling convenience?

An explanation.

Brand Buy Programs

Brand buy programs are sold on quality and prestige. In most cases, these are higher quality. They are usually full-time.

Students interested in brand programs tend to have more ability, more options, and higher expectations, and also want to work with full-time faculty who are well-credentialed and well-regarded. These students are somewhat less cost sensitive. Many of these students are grad school bound.

Commodity Programs

Commodity programs are sold on cost and convenience. Students interested in commodity programs are price sensitive, more likely to work while attending school, and are more career-oriented.

The danger occurs when decision-makers insist that a program is a brand buy when in reality it is a commodity buy.

This insistence is more likely based on ego than data.

The table below outlines a handful of key issues in which students interested in brand buys differ from students interested in commodity buys.

Brand Buys Commodity Buys
-Students are less price sensitive
-Less (but still) concerned about time to degree
-Likely begin as freshmen
Attend classes during the day and likely live in a residence hall
-Faculty credentials considered in college-choice process
-Interested in both job and graduate school placement data
-Students are more price sensitive
-Time to degree is a major issue
-Likely transfer from a community college
-Prefer classes during the day, will consider other times, may or may not be residential
-Faculty credentials not factored in college choice process
-More oriented toward job placement data

Targeted research can help determine not only if you program or institution is a brand buy or a commodity buy, but also the college-choice variables of most interest to your prospective students.

If you’d like to discuss the possibility of undertaking this important research please let us know. We’d be glad to explore some options with you.

Want to learn more? Schedule a free consultation today.

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