Could a world-class MBA program transfer their success into a new market?  Through a deep understanding of what students want from a new entrant, we helped our client evaluate the market opportunity and design their entry strategy.

Being successful in one market can provide advantages when launching into nearby markets, it can also mean higher expectations about what a provider would need to deliver.  Just offering the same as incumbents was not a strategy for success in a market that was customer-driven.  Our client needed to know what they needed to deliver and market wanted.

As a high value and high involvement category that was also a niche product, we knew the best approach to understanding consumer needs were one-to-one in-person interviews with professionals that had both the means and motivation to undertake a self-funded course that ranged in price from $50,000 to $180,000.  In the interviews, we used a variety of approaches to understanding what was needed and expected for course content, delivery, facilities, career development and other aspects of the student experience.  We also needed to understand what image a provider needed to have for a student to commit to a long-term relationship.  To gain a deeper understanding of why various choice criteria and features were important, our interviews included both metaphor elicitation and means-end laddering and interview techniques.  The first approach helped uncover the real criteria for choosing between providers while the second approach told us why it was important to the consumer.

Combined the insights from the interviews with analysis of the marketing material, and observational research of the competitor MBA providers, our client reformulated their market entry strategy and entered the target market with a sustainable business model.