Why you now need to target Chinese students for your online MBA?

As we move into 2021, university marketing directors are turning their minds once more to student registrations. Today we consider why Western education institutions should be focusing on the highly-lucrative Chinese market as they plan their new season campaigns.

Why focus on attracting Chinese students?

China’s economy is set to grow to an impressive degree this year, with its regions targeting a 6% minimum growth rate. From an already powerful, affluent base of motivated consumers with an increasingly international outlook, China is only set to become more powerful and enticing to Western brands.

Chinese students already love to study at Western institutions. In fact, they already represent the largest group of international students in both the UK and USA and these figures have been growing. These students – and their parents – are keen to take advantage of the opportunity to develop their English language skills, to understand Western culture, to develop their business knowledge and to grow their network in order to better position themselves for post-graduate jobs; both in China and abroad.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that overseas travel and study has been largely curtailed for the past year, especially as the West continues its battle to overcome the virus. As a result, higher education programmes have largely moved online; particularly online MBAs, which can easily be delivered from leading Western institutions to Chinese students using digital infrastructure.

Benefits to Western institutions of offering eMBAs

There are many benefits to Western institutions that offer an online MBA in China. From the university’s perspective, these include:

1. Cost savings: the eMBA cost may be the same as the on-campus version, but with far lower delivery costs – greatly increasing margins.
2. Safety: distance learning avoids all of the current issues with Covid-19 safety (issues which may yet persist beyond 2021.) Of course, you may wish to offer the option for a residency or similar when it is safe to do so.
3.Flexibility: the ability to offer flexible or rolling cohorts to maximise student uptake.
4. Scaleability: your institution isn’t limited to physical campus constraints with an eMBA and your course material, digital lectures and seminars can scale to meet demand; increasing your potential numbers.
5. Tech adoption: the Chinese are amongst the most tech-savvy netizens in the world. This maximises the potential success of your digital programme delivery, removing barriers to technology adoption and providing a sophisticated, ready audience that can easily get to grips with online learning technologies.

Why Western institutions have a superb marketing opportunity in 2021

The benefits that accrue to Western institutions that offer an online MBA is clear. Additionally, as online learning is already extremely popular in China, Western universities can readily create winning marketing campaigns that focus on attributes such as:

– The cachet of your institution and the value of your eMBA offer for a student’s CV (Recognised Western universities offer real prestige and the chance to impress employers and personal networks alike!)
– The cost-effectiveness of the MBA option (no travel, no accommodation etc) – combined with the same quality of tuition that would be offered on campus.
– The networking opportunities that can be facilitated digitally (with cohorts often grouped by interest and aptitude to optimise future career-building.)
– Ability to control the pace of study
– The chance to gain a hugely valuable business qualification from a respected Western university without the need to relocate; convenience, speed and access are optimised.
– … and, crucially, the ability to offer a safe option for learning, which requires no travel to parts of the West which may still be compromised by Covid-19.

Why is now the right time to target Chinese students?

After a disrupted year when the world’s attentions have been largely focused on tackling the Covid-19 epidemic, today’s generation of students is now keener than ever to get their careers on track. The MBA has long been the ultimate business qualification for tomorrow’s industry leaders, and eMBAs from Western universities are hotly in demand.

China’s economy is growing fast and its business students want to work internationally – gaining the cultural insights, language skills and business expertise that they need to forge global careers. For marketing leads at Western Institutions, the opportunity is phenomenal; eMBAs can be offered to far larger numbers of international students than on-campus programmes, and without the same current concerns around health and safety, travel restrictions and so forth.

With pent-up demand for the MBA qualification now looking ready to overspill, the challenge now is for Western institutions to make sure their university is visible to both prospective students and parents in the Chinese market. Demand will be extremely high this year, so you must make sure you are poised to take a slice of the pie!

Why market to Chinese parents?

A really good tip for Western universities that are preparing to market to prospective Chinese students is to create a linked marketing and communications campaign for Chinese parents. The decision-making process in China tends to be far more collaborative amongst families than it is in the West and parents will often need to be convinced as much as the students themselves (especially if they are supporting the funding element!) Ensure your messaging considers the expectations and needs of Chinese parents with high ambitions for their student children, with language, imagery and content which persuades them that your institution’s online MBA will help their children reach their full potential in the business world!

Why market with digital methods to China?

Digital marketing has long been the method of choice amongst this vast, tech-savvy audience, which loves to work, rest, play, shop and learn online. The Chinese are one of the world’s heaviest users of smartphones and other digital devices, and they adore cutting-edge, rich, engaging digital experiences which enhance their lives in some way.

In our recent article, we looked at how you can use digital marketing methods to engage with your prospective Chinese eMBA students. Sometimes it can seem daunting to get to grips with Chinese digital marketing, as our familiar channels – Google, Facebook, Twitter and so forth, simply don’t exist in the country. But Chinese alternatives – from Baidu to WeChat – can be mastered with the right strategy, content development, KOL relationships and optimised advertising, SEO and PR campaigns.

Remember that this process must be ongoing so that you build your brand’s presence, reputation and value in the Chinese market over time using a blend of proactive and reactive marketing activities across the full spectrum of digital channels. A Chinese marketing agency can help you with your eMBA marketing; providing the expertise, native language skills and experience that allows you to create an effective campaign with clear ROI.

Find out more

The team at Market Me China is here to help you create an impactful marketing campaign for your online MBA. With rich experience in the Chinese education marketing field, we work flexibly according to your needs – evidencing our results at every turn. Please contact us in the first instance for a no-obligation chat about your objectives.