Marketing higher education: Applying a consumption value model to college choice

Jeanne M Simmons, Marquette University


The core marketing problem of most universities is to attract qualified students. To help address this problem, college administrators have looked for insight to the field of consumer research. The Sheth, Newman and Gross (SNG) Model of Consumption is one of the more recent and comprehensive models of consumer choice. The SNG model is a general theory of consumption behavior based on global consumption values which explain and predict market choices. These values are labeled functional, social, emotional, epistemic, and conditional. The guiding research question of this investigation was: Is the SNG Model useful (compared to traditional approaches) when evaluating college choice decisionmaking by college applicants? The main hypotheses of this project examined whether the SNG factors represent differential contributions to college choice determination. Furthermore, a hypothesized ordering in the influence of the factors was postulated. Functional and Conditional values were expected to have the greatest contribution to the explanation of variance in the choice decision; Social, Emotional and Epistemic values were postulated to contribute in descending order of influence. Additional hypotheses involved the predictive potential of the SNG model in comparison with a more traditional approach. The sample utilized in this study consisted of 1000 students, half of whom chose Marquette University and half who canceled their application. Nearly 50% of the sample responded (n = 471). Factor analysis and discriminant analysis were conducted to operationalize and evaluate the SNG model. Logistical regression served as a predictive comparison using the same data set. From the analyses, one can conclude that autonomous SNG values do exist in college choice decisionmaking. The relative contribution hypothesis was not supported. The results also indicate that the emotional factor plays a more dominant role than hypothesized. Contrary to previous research, the functional value was not established as the major contributor. Additionally, conditional and social factors played a more minor role than originally hypothesized. Discriminant analysis suggested that the SNG model contributes significantly to college choice by outperforming a regression model for predicting actual enrollment. Because of the added perspective it offers, it appears that the SNG model has promise for the analysis of college choice decisions.

Recommended Citation

Simmons, Jeanne M, "Marketing higher education: Applying a consumption value model to college choice" (1997). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9811406.