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EMBA Marketing Exam-Rishmany


									EMBA Marketing – Class XV
   Take Home Exam

                        Ed Rishmany
                      3 October, 1999
A2. Market Segmentation: Analyze the characteristics and sizes of the potential market
segments for the URI EMBA program. Recommend a targeting strategy.

       Market segmentation is defined as the identification and profiling of distinct groups of

buyers who might require separate products and/or marketing mixes. A market segment is a

group of actual or potential customers who can be expected to respond in approximately the

same way to a given offer.

       The potential market segment for the URI EMBA segment would encompass, on the

broadest scale, all individuals possessing at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-

year university. The market segmentation effort is performed here to increase the university’s

ability to target precisely. It can execute this process at any of four levels: segments (isolating

broad segments within a market), niches (narrowly defined groups whose needs are not being

well served), local (local customer groups), or individual (customized, one-to-one marketing).

Additionally, segmentation can be performed with mass marketing.

       In the case of the URI EMBA program, market segmentation should be performed in a

niche, local hybrid form. An EMBA program “provides experienced business people,

entrepreneurs, and professionals an opportunity to earn a valuable MBA degree without

significantly disrupting daily work responsibilities (University of New Orleans EMBA Web

Page).” This market is readily characterized as a niche because it arose to fill the void of the

distinct desires of business professionals. The niche is fairly small (URI EMBA classes have

averaged under 20 students throughout its existence) with only a few competitors. These area

competitors (Bryant, Providence College, Salve Regina, UMass Dartmouth, and URI

Kingston/Providence) offer a normal MBA curriculum that can be fulfilled through a

combination of daytime and evening classes.

       The segmentation effort should also have a local flavor. The URI EMBA has historically

drawn in individuals from the Southeastern New England (southern Mass, Rhode Island, and

eastern Connecticut) geographic region. Because of its scheduling and teaming requirement, the

EMBA program is best suited to individuals who live within driving distance of the Alton Jones

campus and their group members.

       Concerning the patterns of market segmentation, consumer preferences may be clustered

in that distinct preference groups exist in the market. URI has chosen to position in the center

and appeal to all of the cluster groups (KMBA – day, PMBA – night, EMBA – weekend).

       The next step in the market segmentation process is to identify segmentation variables

that apply. Major segmentation variables for consumer markets fall into four categories:

geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioral. For the EMBA program, we may

consider a combination of these variables (with general target characteristics listed in

parentheses). However, geographic variables, such as region and region size should be

overarching since we are pursuing a local segmentation.

       Relevant demographic variables encompass age (21+), gender, income (usually above

$50,000), occupation (professional and technical, managers, proprietors, officials), education

(college graduate), religion (consumers with weekend religious requirements are not a valid

target), and social class (focus on middle and upper class). Pertinent psychographic parameters

include lifestyle (work and education-oriented) and personality (ambitious, motivated).

       Lastly, appropriate behavioral variables are occasions (a life decision or career change),

benefits (those that seek more lucrative and prestigious careers), loyalty status (URI alumni),

buyer-readiness stage (from aware to intending to buy), and attitude toward product (seeking

enthusiastic, positive buyers).

       The segment attributes described above could be collected from survey or census data for

the applicable Southeastern New England region and then analyzed to create a profile of the

EMBA market segments. These segments would be characterized as mostly residing in Rhode

Island, mostly male, professional, income above $50,000 per year, career-oriented, highly

motivated, and well informed.

       In terms of segment size, significant research would be required to estimate the number

of potential consumers. A quick review of Rhode Island Census data from 1996 indicates that,

for persons age 25 and over, the number of individuals with a bachelor’s degree is 88,634. Of

these, 51,526 persons have attained a graduate or professional degree. In terms of occupation,

58,154 individuals were employed in executive, administrative, and managerial occupations.

Further research would be required to obtain information for adjacent areas (eastern Connecticut

and southeastern Massachusetts) and to refine the sizes of the actual segments.

       Although there may be over 50,000 consumers that have a few of the segment

characteristics, more specific data will be required from the other variables in order to obtain a

more realistic estimate of segment sizes. This data could be acquired in a number of ways. One

suggestion is to contact the region’s largest employers (both private and public) to solicit input

on the desires of their business professionals. Additionally, other firms can be solicited based on

the historical participation of their employees in the program. In fact, the pools that make up the

market segments should come from the private and public sector, with the emphasis on those

entities that have been traditionally involved in the URI EMBA.

       The result of the segmentation effort is that the market segments developed must be

measurable (in terms of size, purchasing power and desired characteristics), substantial (large,

homogeneous, and profitable enough to serve), accessible (easily reached), differentiable (from

those pursuing regular MBAs or other graduate degrees), and actionable (an effective program

can result). The resultant segments (with sizes decreasing in the order listed) extracted from the

above candidate pools would contain:

        Those individuals desiring a graduate degree but are unsure as to the field to pursue.
        Those individuals wanting a MBA, but unsure which form to pursue.
        Those individuals wanting to enroll in an EMBA program exclusively.

       With the market segment opportunities identified, it will be necessary to decide which of

these to target. In evaluating these segments, two factors must be examined: the overall

attractiveness (in terms of size, growth, profitability, etc.) of the segment and the objectives and

resources of URI (can URI offer superior value?). Without detailed data, it would appear that

each market segment is attractive. It is a common belief among many business and technical

professionals (and their managers) that a graduate degree is needed for career enhancement.

Additionally, data extracted from the Human Resources Department at the Naval Undersea

Warfare Center indicates that the number of employees pursuing MBAs has increased over 300

percent since the mid-1990s.

       The factor that URI must address is related to objectives and resources. Obviously, the

institution can compete on all MBA levels, but will see increased competition in the future,

especially with the emergence of distance learning programs that have no regional requirement.

       With these factors addressed, the recommendation is to assume a product specialization

strategy for target market selection. The EMBA program will serve as the product that URI sells

to each target segment. Through this strategy, URI can build a strong reputation in this specific

product area. The major risk to this approach is the threat of the distance-learning element.

Additionally, although this approach competes with URI’s other MBA programs, the desired

market share should not significantly impact the profitability of those programs. The URI

EMBA brings several strengths that can be capitalized. These include the setting (the Alton

Jones campus is exceptional), the integrated curriculum, the use of technology, the tailored

schedule, and a group of dedicated, competent faculty.

       URI should attempt to operate in supersegments (set of segments with some exploitable

similarity – individuals seeking graduate degrees) for efficiency and to avoid being at a

competitive disadvantage to those universities that may target the same supersegment.

       Lastly, it is suggested that, although a supersegment approach may be warranted, URI

should only focus on one segment at a time beginning with the EMBA portion. Not only will

this invasion plan keep competitors off-balance, but it will also enable the EMBA program to

solidify its primary market target. A long-term plan should be constructed and executed to

effectively time the targeting of each market segment.

       In summary, the characteristics of the potential market segments include demographic,

psychographic, and behavioral parameters that combine to develop the EMBA customer profile.

The resultant segments consist of (1) individuals desiring to pursue graduate degrees, (2)

individuals interested in MBAs, and (3) individuals focused on EMBA curricula. The relative

size of each of the segments decreases, respectively, since the second and third segments may be

considered subsets of the previous segment. Estimated sizes must be obtained from detailed

market research, possibly in the form of surveys distributed in the private and public sector.

       Each of these market segments appears to be attractive in terms of being the focus of a

targeting strategy. Additionally, URI, based on its current offerings, seems to have the resources

to undertake this targeting effort. Lastly, it is recommended that a product specialization strategy

be applied to each segment (beginning with the EMBA group) to build URI’s reputation as a

choice provider of the EMBA product. This strategy will have an increased likelihood of success

if URI uses its traditional linkages with segment group employers to generate partnership

arrangements that make the EMBA product more desirable for employees. Targeting the MBA

and general graduate degree segments as part of a long-term plan is key in ensuring future

growth and profitability. This is especially accurate if the demand for graduate business degrees

is indeed high.

B3. Advertising and Promotion: Analyze the current advertising and promotional strategy (all
media, including the Net, as well as personal contact methods) of the URI EMBA program.
Develop and analyze at least a couple of other promotional strategies and recommend a
strategy that you think will enhance program size and reputation.

       Advertising and promotion are elements of the marketing communications mix and also

are key components in an institution’s ability to effectively communicate it product capabilities

to potential buyers. Advertising provides a pervasive public presentation that, while somewhat

impersonal, can be amplified. Promotion encourages communication, focuses attention, provides

incentive, and creates a distinctive invitation.

       URI’s current advertising and promotional strategy includes print media, the Internet, and

personal contact. Traditionally, the EMBA program has advertised in the Providence Journal

section during the spring-summer recruiting period. This multi-column advertisement

summarizes the program’s features (“the curriculum of the Executive MBA Program is designed

to develop competitive skills in decision making and leadership.”).

       Internet advertising is accomplished through the College of Business Administration web

site. Under the MBA Degree Programs link, Executive MBA links are provided next to the

Kingston and Providence MBA sections. A separate MBA information page is also provided,

with a link to general EMBA program information. This page

( provides the crux of the web-

based specific advertising for the EMBA program. It contains the program description, time and

location, program fees, financial aid information, and other links. These other links include

information on the Alton Jones campus (a competitive advantage), the state of Rhode Island

(another competitive edge?), and other relevant MBA information. The page also provides

access to the current Class XVI site for an “operational” view of the program. Lastly, the

university promotes its membership on the EMBA council.

       Personal contact promotion is achieved through networking and informal communication

performed by EMBA alumni and faculty. No formal program is in place for direct one-on one

marketing. URI provides a web page link to MBA and EMBA alumni and their email addresses

(if available). This provides prospective students with a path to contact alumni directly in order

to solicit their input on the program. During the past summer, I was contacted by a member of

Class XVI (who got my name off the Class XV list). At the time, he was only considering the

program as an option. We had extensive discussions about all facets of the program (technical,

administrative, and personal) that aided him in making his decision to apply.

       Lastly, URI and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center have a partnership in which the

Center funds the tuition and fees of two of its employees annually. The Center conducts its own

application, interview, and selection process to choose its program nominees. There are no

promotional discounts provided by URI for this arrangement. It does not appear that the

university maintains any promotional agreements with any private sector firm.

       In considering a strategy that will help to enhance the URI EMBA program size and

reputation, all common communication platforms should be considered. In addition to

advertising, sales promotions, public relations, personal selling, and direct marketing can all be

considered. Here, it is recommended that advertising, promotion, public relations, and the

continued informal use of alumni/candidate contact is maintained to promote the program.

       Once the target market is identified and buyer motives are known, the institution can

proceed to address the five major decisions needed for an advertising program. These are the

five Ms: mission (objectives), money (how much to spend), message, media, and measurement


        In setting the advertising objective, prior target market decisions, market positioning, and

marketing mix strategies must be considered. URI wants to position itself as the choice provider

of the EMBA product by informing and persuading prospective students that the knowledge and

skills they develop in the accelerated EMBA program will provide them with an instant

competitive edge in the marketplace. And, this edge can be gained while continuing to work in

one’s current job.

        The advertising budget must be considered carefully because it is treated as an expense

that reduces the institution’s “profit”. Factors to address include the requirement to build

awareness, reach unknowing consumers, and respond to competitor activities. Advertising

frequency should be high during the recruiting period when potential students are evaluating

their educational options and should be less during other periods. Determining the actual

advertising budget will require a comparative analysis that weighs the amount spent with the

estimated resulting influx of students (and tuition).

        The development of the advertising message must pass through four steps: generation,

evaluation and selection, execution, and social responsibility review. In generating the message,

several options will be considered, but it is critical that the message conveys the benefit of the

product. In this case, the message should reflect the objective/mission: that the URI EMBA is

the choice for those considering an accelerated degree without disrupting their current jobs. The

message should emphasize the integrated curriculum, the use of technology in the classroom, and

the rustic environment at Alton Jones that is conducive to learning. The message should also

include “expert testimony” from EMBA alumni who confirm how the URI EMBA has enhanced

their careers.

       In evaluating and selecting a message, it is important to ensure that there is a focus on

one core selling proposition. Some research should be performed to identify which type of

appeal will be well received by the target segment. If the message has desirability (the setting

and the program is attractive), exclusiveness (the URI EMBA is distinctive among Rhode Island

institutions, Suffolk, in Boston, and the University of Connecticut are the nearest EMBA

competitors), and believability (based on alumni testimony), success can be achieved.

       Message execution determines the impact in how the message is stated. The current

EMBA advertising (newspaper and web) is quite straightforward and does not assume many

risks in terms of style, tone, words, and format. Since the university is considered to be a

conservative institution, it may be difficult to vary much in these areas. However, even a minor

change in approach may be beneficial. Headline/large print headings such as “URI EMBA

makes a difference” can be an attention grabber.

       In terms of social responsibility, we must ensure that the message fits within the social

and legal norms of URI.

       Once the message is reviewed and finalized, the advertising media must next be

considered. Selection of these media is dependent on reach, frequency, and impact. Obviously,

URI should continue to pursue newspaper advertising because of its ability to reach the local

market. The EMBA program should consider (if it hasn’t already) advertising in major

Connecticut and Massachusetts newspapers to extend its reach in the target segment. To

capitalize on the demographic angle, URI should also consider advertising in various magazines

and periodicals that are read by the target audience. While this may exceed the reach beyond the

target market, the additional exposure may prove beneficial. Market research and cost-benefit

analysis should be performed on advertising in this medium.

        The Internet may prove to be the most profitable medium given the explosive growth in

its utilization. The EMBA program should implement some improvements to its web advertising

through ensuring that the various net search engines locate the EMBA page and in possibly

developing some partnership arrangements with web portals. Although this again will extend the

reach beyond the target area, the costs of implementing these improvements may not be


        To evaluate the effectiveness of the advertising media chosen, measurements are

required. Data can be collected from program applicants (“how did you hear of the program”),

web counters, and unique information in each medium that is relayed to program administrators

(e.g., “call 555-1212 and ask for Joe”).

        In addition to advertising, the university can attempt to include sales promotion as part of

its marketing strategy. This approach differs from advertising’s offer of a “reason to buy” in that

it provides an “incentive to buy.” Promotion in this case would deviate from the standard type

used in private industry. Here, the URI EMBA would attempt to develop partnerships with the

target region’s major employers (both in the public and private sector). Similar to the existing

NUWC arrangement, the employer would provide a continual stream of students to the EMBA

program. In return, the program could offer discounted tuition and fees. This would provide

value-added for both entities: URI would maintain a core student base and the firms would be

able to fulfill the training needs of its employees. It is recommended that this approach be

performed gradually in order to evaluate its viability in terms of program growth and reputation


        Public relations may be considered in that it provides the program an opportunity to relate

to its potential customers and the public at large. It is recommended that the URI EMBA

program sponsor various applicable events to publicize its product. These events can include

business fairs, seminars by business practitioners, forums on business topics, etc. This effort can

be performed in conjunction with the other MBA programs at the university. While this may not

distinguish the EMBA program, it does distribute the cost. This public relations approach can

build program awareness and credibility. As with advertising and promotion, the results of this

effort must be measured (through increased enrollment).

       Lastly, the direct interaction between program alumni and prospective students must

continue to be facilitated. Since this is essentially a “free” service, it is suggested that the EMBA

continue to list alumni names and email addresses on its web sites as well as bring in alumni to

EMBA recruitment open houses. Since alumni will be perceived to be unbiased and believable,

there is an advantage inherent in their communication with potential customers.

       In summary, the recommended strategy is to pursue a combination of advertising

(newspaper, magazine, Internet), promotion (alliances with employers), public relations

(sponsorship of relevant events), and informal alumni contact with potential students. The

advertising objective should be established up front and should capitalize on the major benefits

and positive qualities of the EMBA program. Alumni testimony should be a significant part of

the strategy in order to show the results of the program in terms of career enhancement. The

performance of each of these channels should be measured to determine the effectiveness in

adding value to the program in terms of growth and reputation enhancement. Lastly, the EMBA

should attempt to leverage university efforts where applicable. However, the URI EMBA

program must ensure that these joint efforts don’t blur the distinctive characteristic of its product.


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