Purpose: Potential students often learn about University offerings through peer communication, in particular, peer Word of Mouth (WOM). Without an ability to predict and influence such WOM, Higher Education managers cannot accommodate it in their marketing strategies. Using a two phase procedure we address this by proposing a method that can be used to predict what will be communicated by WOM. Using that method we then develop an understanding of what information is communicated by WOM.
Method: A qualitative phase identifies that potential students use two decision processes when selecting information to communicate about a university. A second choice-experiment phase models the information communicated by WOM as a consequence of one of those decision processes.
Findings: Results demonstrate that multiple decision processes are used by students when determining what to communicate by WOM, and that specific student groups communicate different information when assisting a peer to choose a university to attend. Practical implications: The results highlight the ability of institutions to influence student WOM, and the procedure developed provides a practical tool for predicting WOM so that custom marketing messages can be developed to assist student choices of HE provider.
- Information search
- University choice
- Word of mouth