Market Research
Well-versed in the most sophisticated research tools, SimpsonScarborough customizes a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods to explore your unique institutional challenges. On the qualitative side, we use tools such as online and in-person focus groups, in-depth interviews (IDIs), and online bulletin boards to gauge perceptions and attitudes, understand emotional drivers, and find common uses of language.

Our emphasis on quantitative analysis makes us unique among firms that specialize in brand strategy development for higher education. We use advanced research techniques such as multivariate analysis, segmentation analysis and discrete-choice modeling (DCM) exercises that mimic real-life “buying” scenarios. Surveys are conducted using telephone (CATI) and online data collection methods as appropriate.

Drawing on our experience working with more than 1,000 colleges and universities, we conduct assessments of an institution’s operational and marketing activities and provide recommendations for aligning them with strategic goals. We offer four types of assessments:

  • Communications Assessments to identify areas of strength and weakness in communication efforts and suggest new or innovative strategies to implement
  • Marketing Operations Assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing activities, organizational structure, and campus-wide integration
  • Recruitment/Enrollment Assessments to identify top-producing recruitment activities, suggest new tactics for improving enrollment, and evaluate departmental organization
  • Web Assessments to evaluate how well a site communicates the institutional brand, positions the institution against competitors, and provides expected ease of navigation for users

  • Strategy Development
    The real excitement begins when we combine all the information generated by the research and assessments and transform it into detailed strategic recommendations that have the ability to profoundly affect an institution’s marketing and operational strategies. Typical projects cover all areas of the institution, including marketing and communications, pricing, program development, alumni engagement, fund raising, image and identity, and recruitment and admissions. We develop positioning statements that determine the most distinctive attribute, program, or personality trait that truly differentiates an institution from its competitors and motivates prospective students to enroll, alumni to donate, and community leaders to support an institution. We also create BrandPrints™ that document the brand strategy and provide the positioning platform that guide an institution’s marketing activities and creative communications materials.


    "Working with SimpsonScarborough has been a truly fulfilling experience. Learning from their expertise has significantly enhanced my professional life."

    Kristine Maloney, Associate Director, National Communications and Media Relations
    College of the Holy Cross

    "When Mount St. Mary's was considering a name change and a new marketing campaign, we knew we had to get meaningful input from all our various constituencies. We partnered with SimpsonScarborough because we wanted a research firm that understands the world of higher ed. The surveys they designed and the data they collected helped us to make a series of informed decisions, and to move forward with confidence."

    Stephanie Cubba, vice president of Institutional Advancement Mount St. Mary's College