While the UK’s independent schools sector is remarkably robust in the face of recession, challenges to charitable status, and national falling affordability, research from mtm suggests that there are a number of key opportunities for independent schools to better recruit from their target markets.
In this excerpt from the mtmconsulting Missing Million Report, 2008 (follow the link for details) we explore where potential buyers drop out of the decision making process…
The Missing Million Report (based on a parental survey carried out of some 836 households with school-age children and a target income of £50,000+) suggests the following:
- 66% have, at some point, considered sending at least one child to an independent school
- Of those that have considered it, 92% have gone on to conduct research on at least one specific independent school (talking to people about the school, reading up on it or visiting it)
- Of those that have conducted research, 83% visited a school
- Of those visitors, 53% went on to send at least one child to an independent school.
This is reflected in the chart to the left, which shows the crucial stages of decision-making amongst parents. It should reiterated that our research found that little over half of all parents who visited independent schools went on to enrol a place at such a school.
We believe this to be a significant indicator that there is great potential for independent schools’ marketing and communications to be greatly enhanced, particularly around the messages conveyed to prospective parents; the quality of marketing, school websites and promotional material; and the effectiveness of school tours.
- Parents in London are much more likely to consider an independent school for their children (79% versus the national average of 66%) and are also more likely to ultimately send them.
- Parents in the South/East of England are less likely to consider it (62% versus 66%) although the proportions subsequently researching, considering and sending are in line with the national average.
- Parents in the Midlands/Wales are slightly less likely to consider and research independent schools and are then moderately less likely to visit and use independent schools.
- Parents in the North/Scotland are only slightly less likely than the national average to undertake most stages in the process.
The chart above also shows the points at which parents drop out of the buying process. Based on an estimated 1.2 million target households with school-age children, an estimated 933,000 of these households are non-buyers of independent education.
These non-buyers can be segmented as follows: 415,000 that have never considered independent schools; 63,000 that have considered but never researched; 123,000 that have researched but never visited; 284,000 that have visited but never bought; and 47,000 that are former buyers.
The implications for independent school marketing teams here are huge, indicating over 300,000 potential (and former) buyers of independent education that have considered it, but decided against it.
mtm helps schools with their brand positioning, marketing, research and strategic thinking. To discuss our services please contact mtm.
Click here for more details about mtm’s Missing Million report.