The identification, measurement and competitive positioning of a higher education institution brand in Zambia : the case of Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies (ZCAS)
Kayombo, Kelvin Mukolo
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The aim of this research project was to identify and measure the ZCAS brand in the higher education (HE) sector in Zambia and, through the study, identify areas for strengthening the brand‟s competitive position. ZCAS is earmarked for conversion into a university following the completion of a major infrastructure expansion project that has doubled its service delivery capacity. This transition requires rebranding and repositioning the institution as a university; and this research could play a significant role in this undertaking by providing insights into brand building in the Zambian HE sector. The research was carried out in two phases. The first research phase was a qualitative multiple case study designed to identify the principal branding elements in the Zambian HE market. Data were collected through three focus group discussions with first year students at ZCAS and twenty semi-structured interviews with marketing executives at ZCAS and twelve universities. Thematic and content analysis of the discussions and interviews revealed that the top five most considered HE branding factors in Zambia are teaching quality, fees, course availability, facilities and employability; while course availability, teaching quality and facilities emerged as the top three sources of competitive advantage. The study also revealed that the most consulted information sources about universities are print media, friends, education expos and electronic media, while the most prolific influencers of student choice are friends, parents and self. In the second research phase a conjoint questionnaire was administered to 390 first year students in eight HE institutions to establish ZCAS‟ competitive brand position in Zambia. Five principal branding attributes (i.e. teaching quality, fees, course availability, learning environment and employability) identified in the first research phase were employed in the conjoint analysis. The study revealed that ZCAS has a strong brand position because the most important elements in its brand model, i.e. course availability, teaching quality and facilities, are also the premier brand dimensions in the market. This study therefore adds to the increasing body of knowledge on HE branding, particularly in developing countries, by developing and then testing a brand orientation model for the Zambian HE market.