Mr. AsheeshSabarwal, Vice-President (Marketing), Pearson India

It isn’t often that a sector sees dramatically new models of engaging its consumers.  The education sector today is witnessing this and is a very exciting space to be in.  It allows education providers and marketers to engage with learners in multiple ways.  While traditional forms of education delivery – print & ink, brick & mortar – continue to be in demand, at the same time,digitization of content and the rapid expansion of Internet & devices has lead to completely new models of education delivery – bits & bytes, web & mobile.
In many ways, these are complementary trends and both need to be encouraged becausetogether they can help us, as a country, to achieve scale in education– something that large countries like ours need with massive numbers of people unable to access education.  In addition, the two models give learners the choice to pick and choose the option that they are most comfortable with, have the most access to, and have the most affordability for.  Marketers and communicators in this sector have the responsibility to effectively communicate this choice to learners and help them make the right choice.
So, let’s look at some numbers.  What makes education in India such a big deal?  It’s no secret that we are a young nation with roughly half our population under the age of 25.  This huge human capital is often referred to as India’s demographic dividend.  Unless, of course, we do nothing to educate and guide this young population, in which case it will become a demographic nightmare.  Imagine a nation with half a billion youth with no constructive pursuits to put their knowledge and skills behind.
Here’s some statistics on reach that traditional and emerging mediums provide us today:

Brick & mortar reach: Approximately 250 million students in schools and 18 million in colleges
Internet reach:   Approximately 150 million internet users under the age of 25 years, with college goers becoming a prominent category.
Both these learner reach models have to co-exist to provide increased learner coverage.  Importantly, the complementary effect of these models is not just on quantity of learners reached, but also on:

  • Quality of education content and delivery.
  • Stretching and adding flexibility to learning hours and place of learning.

Traditionally, institutes in India banked on good academic record, alumni success and word-of-mouth for their marketing.  The boom of private institutions has changed the way this functioned. Be it global schools, private universities, coaching centers, or tutorials – they are working on boosting all 4 Ps of marketing – product, price, place and promotion.  Some examples include:   niche/specialized courses, financial incentives in forms of scholarships & fee concessions, creating multi-acre tech-enabled campuses, exchange programs with foreign institutions,and myriadways of attracting parent &student attention – participating in education fairs, creating exclusive events, engaging well known public figures and celebrities.
Technology is helping redefine the way learners are consuming education.  Online & personalized learning, mobile devices penetration and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) are on a rise. With youth driving the current and future digital consumption, there is an immense opportunity for marketers to engage with and interact with the target segments on digital platforms using SEO, SEM and social media communities.
In all of these exciting developments, a fundamental question that all stakeholders in the sector must work towards answering is:  What tangible value are we creating for the learner?  There is a need to reinforce the core values that are being imparted at all levels of education and to measure the learning outcomes to assess the impact they have on a student’s life. Only then can we have a truly efficacious learning ecosystem.