Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter), a coed NIH, boarding school (grades 9-12) in Exeter, New Hampshire, approached Kalix to conduct a comprehensive target audience market research study to measure Exeter’s brand awareness, image and other data to help inform their future tuition pricing strategy. A key objective was to gain a deeper understanding of a challenge facing all independent schools today: the relationship between value perceptions and tuition.
Kalix’s team of market research experts worked closely with the Exeter team to identify specific goals, objectives and strategies for each key internal and external audience. Kalix organized this market research study into five phases:
Exeter was a collaborative partner throughout the 10-month study, from project design and questionnaire development to the final progress reports and study conclusions.
Kalix’s experience in comprehensive market research particularly was evident in the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the study. The firm conducted a “deep-dive” investigation into Exeter’s brand perception among internal and external constituencies to uncover issues. By validating these statistically, Kalix was able to gather a more complete picture of how the brand, decision-making characteristics and price positioning are perceived by Exeter’s audiences (students, families and alumni) and key influencers. In addition, we also explored the reactions from the different audiences to several alternative tuition strategies.
Qualitative investigations included telephone interviews and in-person interviews among many different audiences. The quantitative investigation took our outcomes from the qualitative phase and brought it to a large national sampling of prospective families establishing a national baseline for future studies. As part of this phase, Kalix used internet surveys to explore each of the key high school decision-making factors – reputation/brand, tuition, financial aid and school program – as they related to Exeter.
The information gleaned from the in-depth study allowed Exeter to better understand its audience and its hot buttons, particularly as they relate to the complex, universal issue of tuition pricing. As a result of the study, Exeter was able to better understand its audiences and formulate a data-driven, more-informed multi-year tuition strategy.