Higher Education and Global Brands: Marketing In 2022

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Higher education institutions are currently operating within an unsustainable system. The current national student loan debt has breached the $ 1 Trillion mark, with over 50% of that debt either in default or deferment. To put some perspective on this debt, we have to consider the rising costs of higher education in a relative manner. Since 1978 the price of a college education has increased by a remarkable 1,120% YIKES! During this same period the cost of medical care, which we all greatly consider to be outrageous, has risen by 600%, or roughly ½ of the college education.


Higher education is rapidly approaching the problem that many traditional businesses have been facing with the increase in ecommerce: how to justify the investment of brick and mortar facilities and high professor’s salaries when it’s very possible that we can accomplish the same goals online, or can we? A recent, albeit small, case study with online education provider Udacity showed how poor the online results can be. Out of 213 students enrolled in 3 math courses, the results were quite pitiful. Elementary Statistics: 50.5% passed. College Algebra: 25.4% passed. College Mathematics: 33.8% passed. When we compare this data with the same courses from SJSU (Udacity’s physical counterpart) on campus we can see very different level of success: with Elementary Statistics: 76.3% passed. College Algebra: 64.7% passed. College Mathematics: 45.5% passed.

Now what in the world does this data have to do with international marketing you say?

Harvard, one of the most recognizable brands in international higher education has attempted to tackle the issue through a test of attendance. Harvard University has revealed that it secretly photographed some 2,000 students in 10 lecture halls last spring as part of a study of classroom attendance, an admission that prompted criticism from faculty and students who said the research was an invasion of privacy. Harvard found that only 60% of their students were attending class at any given time:


Harvard’s takeaways from this study are very much in line with how this magnificent institution will be marketing itself in a future where, according to the national center for education statistics, only three million more students are expect to be enrolled in college by 2022, which represents a major decline in growth for the industry. Harvard, like many higher education intuitions, will need to market their services to a global customer base. In order to accomplish this, Harvard must find better measure of learning and teaching. They will have to measure affective, cognitive, and most importantly, behavioral engagement. Lecture attendance is the measure of behavior engagement, and Harvard’s data shows that they are not currently meeting the expectations of their customers, 40% of whom do not find it necessary to attend lectures.

In a diverse global marketplace where culture often acts as a significant determinant for consumer preference, data can be the solution. Harvard, and many other schools, must find a way to correlate student activities on campus (attending lecture, using office hours, and finding extracurricular activities) to the success rates of students, without secretly taking pictures of classrooms without participant consent. With this large and small data, educational institutions could better cater their services to actual student needs, which would greatly increase engagement, which would lead to better learning and more value for the large investment of higher education. Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard offered a word of advice on the subject: When we decide what to measure, we signal what counts.” When schools begin to take engagement more seriously, they will be able to define and then convey the value their education offers, in more ways than “this school will get you a good job” or “our network is the strongest in the world.”

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Sports: The Industry Every Country Loves

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Globally, sports are a big deal. Almost every country in the world has some affiliation or influential sports culture that runs deep in their society. Whether you are watching a cricket match in India or a football game in the United States, it’s obvious that the people love this industry and the profits are there to prove it. A recent report made by PWC states that the global sports industry will grow to over $145 billion dollars in revenue by 2015. Sporting events that are set on a global stage, like FIFA’s World Cup and the Olympics, are in a category all of their own when it comes to generating profit and boosting an economy.

Here are some outstanding statistics from this summer’s World Cup in Brazil:

5,154,386 attended FIFA Fan Fests in Brazil during the World Cup, with Rio de Janeiro’s spectacular Copacabana site attracting 937,330 – the highest number in any individual city.

7.2 billion USD in tax revenue shall be received by Brazil as a result of investments in the 2014 World Cup.

3,429,873 was the total attendance for the 64 matches, the highest recorded at any World Cup since USA 1994. The average crowd of 53,592 was also the highest in two decades.

16,746 printed media accreditations were produced during this World Cup.

3,127,674 food and beverage transactions took place at the stadiums over the course of the competition.


These numbers are phenomenal and show how big of a business sports really is. Sporting events at this caliber and even local events with big followings are a great marketing platform that seems to be underutilized by many businesses. Although there is steep competition for sponsorship rights for most athletic tournaments, there are various other marketing tactics that a business can utilize to piggy back on the hype of sporting events.

For example, if you own a restaurant, you can theme an entrée around a sporting event or give specific discounts during a game to encourage people to stay and eat. If you are a brand manager for a consumer packaged good company, you can look for athlete sponsors or change the packaging to a relevant sports theme. There are many ways a company can ride the coat tails of the sports industry and they should look to do so whenever it’s possible and fitting. You don’t need to be Nike or Adidas to make money off this industry.

It is true that not everyone is a sports fan, but if I were betting on a global industry to help support a brand, I would place my bet on the sports industry. It appeals to various demographics and psychographics and it is an industry the brings countries together. This is very important as globalization continues to spread and as more and more societies become homogenous in their wants and needs.

If you want your product to be a true win, don’t forget to place your ad where the sports fan will see it!

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China: The Land of 1.3 Billion Consumers

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Over the decades, multinational firms have looked abroad for inexpensive sourcing and cheap labor. One of the main targets for these multinationals is China. For decades, companies have outsourced their labor to China, which has historically been known to have a vast workforce and strong logistics infrastructure. Compared to a country like India, who also has a large population, the people of China are more educated with a literacy rate of 92% compared to India’s 61%. China is more connected, with their 389 million Internet users compared to India’s 61 million. The reasons above are strong indicators as to why China has been a dominant partner for multination firms across the globe.

China has held this position for a long time, but as the country becomes more developed and hyper-connected, labor costs and the costs of procurement are becoming expensive compared to other countries in the area. There are currently over 20,000,000 textile workers throughout China. This group of workers has an aging population and human resource departments are having difficulties filling positions in this sector once the elderly leave the workforce. Reasons behind this include: more educated people that want better paying jobs, people that are aware of the finer luxuries in life and want to take advantage of them, and the one child rule that has crippled the country of some of its younger labor force.

As the country becomes more and more urbanized and wealthy, so do its people. By 2030 it is estimated that 1 billion people will live in the urban cities of China. At this same time, there will be over 221 cities with over one million people throughout the country. This urban expansion has caused companies to move their operations to less costly countries, like ones in South East Asia.

This growing group of consumers gives multinational firms a new set of reasons why they want to enter into the China market. Getting close to this demographic is very important and could be looked at as imperative to sustain long-term success in a global market. Companies want to localize their product offerings for these people and gaining access to this growing market is a goal that many companies are trying to reach. Although China may not be the go to country for outsourcing manufacturing needs, it’s 1.3 billion consumers is justification to remain close to this market and infiltrate it before the domestic and international competition.

Check out this short video from MicKinsey China on the new consumer in China:


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Don’t Forget the Middle East in your Marketing Budget!

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The countries in the Middle East used to be vast deserts with oil filled land and war torn countries, but the times they are a changing! The twenty plus cities that make up the Middle East are trying to rid themselves of the turmoil they have been experiencing and enter into the world marketplace as a people of dominant purchasing power. Although some countries may not be safe for some to travel, such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, others have thriving economies and millions of consumers with thick wallets and the taste for the finer things in life.


The United Arab Emirates is the second largest economy in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia. Sitting on the Arabian Peninsula, the UAE is home to the world famous city Dubai with its massive skyscrapers and enormous super malls. The Mall of Dubai attracts an average of 75 million visitors per year and has a strong western presence. The consumers in the UAE are very accustomed to western brands and trends. American brands in all industries are popping up throughout the UAE in cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai and they are gaining popularity quickly. Although real estate and rent is high in these areas, the pure volume and quality of consumers is something international firms should not miss out on.


The 2022 FIFA World Cup of Soccer will take place in the country of Qatar, situated next to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The World Cup generates an obscene amount of publicity and economic growth for the cities where it is hosted. The host country is set on a global stage where billions tune in to watch the competition. Multinational brands should look to this country and its surrounding neighbors to start positioning their brands to this large group of consumer that will be in the world’s view in the near future. The close by country of Kuwait is one of the wealthiest countries in the world filled with consumers waiting to buy international products.


Companies must make a big effort to get to know this consumer and how to best reach them through their advertising in the most authentic ways possible. Many of the cultures in the Middle East are more conservative than western countries like the United States and require advertising that meets these conventional attributes. Positioning your brand for this specific segment is must and many multinational brands are seeing the potential of not just this area, but of the educated and adorned people that live there.






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Adaptation or Bending Over Backwards to Kiss The Emperor’s Shoes?

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As of December 1, 2014, HBO can be legally streamed across China as part of a deal between Time Warner and the Chinese internet company Tencent Holding Ltd. This Chinese leader in social networking and gaming will be the exclusive online provider in the country. But how much of this content will actually be seen by the Chinese people, AND, will that content be worth viewing once it has been thoroughly washed by the Chinese government sensors, which hve been widely viewed as the most pervasive and sophisticated in the entire world?
With US primetime shows like The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and The Practice being taken down by the Chinese government…shows that are by all western accounts tame and family-friendly, how can a show like Game of Thrones expect to survive the censorship process in China?


In China, all inbound data from foreign internet sources are filtered through one of three computer centers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. An example of this pervasive watchdog system, which can easily be thought of as Orwellian, is the word “Carrot,” which when typed into a search engine in mainland China will send the searcher to a blank page, instead of links related to the orange veggie. This word happens to contain the same Chinese character as the surname of the paramount leader of China between 2002 and 2012.

The Chinese government must approve all shows broadcasted online to Chinese viewers, and the violations include: one-night stands, extramarital affairs, partner-swapping, flirtation, rape, incest, necrophilia, prostitution, sexual perversion and masturbation…acts that hardly raise an eyebrow for HBO’s traditionally edgy offering of shows. The Communist Party approved version of Game of Thrones is about 11 minutes shorter than the original domestic version and is dubbed in Mandarin. New rules on “public morality” have changed the show from a fast-paced fantasy drama, and winner of the Peabody Award (“awarding stories that matter”), to a “medieval European castle documentary” and “an edited mess” according to the South China Morning Press: “I estimate that they cut about twenty minutes,” one disgruntled Weibo commentator wrote after the first episode re-aired on Sunday. “The story feels discontinuous… [When they began re-airing it], my first reaction was ‘This can’t be!’ Then my second reaction was, ‘My God, what a mess’” (South China Morning Press).

Only time will tell if this extreme level of adaptation will prove to be profitable for HBO or feasible for their international brand that was so painstakingly developed in the Western world. This premium network king should be weary of watering down stronger offerings, “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” could soon mean something much different for China’s 1.35 billion citizens…because it can hardly be classified as TV when it’s played through China’s constraining lens.


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