Market research is conducted periodically to assess the effectiveness of the university's communications strategies and tactics. The university conducted initial brand platform testing and consumer perception research in fall 2011 to provide the data needed to solidify our positioning and begin the concept stage of our integrated marketing communications plan.
In the benchmarking process carried out in fall 2011, consumer perception analysis mapped the perceptions of key stakeholders, such as students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni, determining how these important audiences perceive USC as compared to peer and aspirant peer institutions.
Brand platform testing performed as part of the benchmarking process measured the extent to which brand platform traits resonated with internal and external audiences. This research determined how the USC brand is positioned in the minds of the target audiences and identified positive, distinctive institutional characteristics that will be used to articulate USC's brand and position.
The purpose of this type of market research is threefold: (1) It is used to validate the brand platform with key audiences and to understand each audience's perceptions of key attributes in order to develop strategic integrated marketing plans; (2) It establishes important benchmark metrics that will allow the university to measure the success of future communications; (3) It allows the university to measure the progress of its communications efforts.
We periodically survey faculty and staff members, prospective students, current students, parents of current students, alumni and members of the general population who are not directly affiliated with USC.
Web-based surveys, phone surveys, in-depth interviews, focus groups and other methods are used to learn about the views of various audiences.
Benchmark research was conducted in November 2011, and assessments are conducted at regular intervals to monitor the impact of USC's communications.