Peruvian consumer research about decision-making and evaluation of higher education alternatives abroad

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Peruvian consumer research about decision-making and evaluation of higher education alternatives abroad

This study is placed in the context of the buying process because Peruvian students experience a buying situation, or a process of educational services consumption before deciding to which university abroad they will go to study. Consequently, the purpose of this thesis was to study and develop a better understanding of how Peruvian students make decisions when choosing universities abroad since such knowledge is crucial to formulate marketing objectives and strategies in order to market international higher education in Peru. Basically, four objectives are developed to undertake this study. First, finding the reasons by which Peruvians students go to study abroad. Second, finding the sources they use to search information and learn about universities abroad. Third, finding the set of factors, benefits and perceived risks that might influence the choice of their university. Fourth, determining how the consumer decision-making process contributes to the development of marketing objectives. The objectives lead to cite theoretically the three-stages service consumption model, the stages of consumer decision-making process and the customer-driven service marketing strategy. Once the objectives were established, the most practical and flexible qualitative method to compile recent and in-depth information was conducting interviews. Before interviewing officially 8 Peruvians, a pre-test was conducted. The interviews were carried out face-to-face and online. Similarly, data were compiled from online sources, in form of testimonials and experiences of Peruvian students abroad. Both primary and secondary data were analyzed, codified and categorized in order to find patterns or trends as described in the results displayed. Conclusions indicate that the most ranked motivational factors to study abroad are grants and expenses, and experiences. Word-of-mouth impact their decisions; student fairs work as distribution channels for international higher education and personal contact with prospect students. The most ranked attributes are specific programs and degree courses, opportunities for employment, expenditure; nonetheless, the cultural factor, financial, skills and lack of information about opportunities abroad may minimize the access for higher education abroad. There may be preferences for English-speaking countries universities; however, other international universities have huge potential as their methodology and culture are highly valued and often are referred to as quality models. Finally, having analyzed the outcome, in terms of marketing strategy, it is advisable to consider the channels described in order to build awareness and encourage prospects to purchase educational services.

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