Gender and generation differences in university students’ word-of-mouth willingness

Gender and generation differences in university students’ word-of-mouth willingness

Student loyalty in the higher education sector helps college administrators to establish long-term relationships with both current and former students. Study have chosen to examine one of the components of loyalty, namely the willingness of students to spread positive information about the university. The study aimed to empirically examine the willingness of positive word of mouth communication by gender, and generation.
The study utilised a quantitative design. The survey was conducted in a private university with a population of about 2,100 students. The data were collected using convenience sampling during the winter semester of the academic year 2018/2019 in two groups of bachelor level full-time students. There were 114 usable responses.
Research has found that university’s students are mostly willing to spread positive information about their alma mater. The statistically significant differences in the willingness of positive word of mouth communication by gender were confirmed (p<.0001). We failed to reject the hypothesis about differences in gender (p=0.1708). Thus, university programs loyalty should adapt their approach, to incorporate at least gender differences.

Introduction

Globalisation and market competition pressure in the education sector urge higher education institutions to increase their economic responsibility and performance continually (Watjatrakul 2014). Nevertheless, today, more than ever before, universities face enormous challenges due to the current drop in student numbers due to the attitude of potential and current students to higher education, the costs of education compared to future benefits, and last but not least by the competition of a large number of universities (Rizkallah and Seitz 2017). Student loyalty in the higher education sector helps college administrators to establish appropriate programs that promote, establish, develop and maintain successful long-term relationships with both current and former students (Annamdevula and Bellamkonda 2016). Many universities, in this context, have even approached the principles of student satisfaction’s management and measurement in order to keep them as customers as long as possible. As a result, higher education institutions in many countries are standing at crossroads and face various challenges (Štrach 2017).
Customer loyalty can be defined as a higher probability of making new and repeated purchases, spontaneously recommending a particular service provider and spreading the positive word of mouth (Tahal et al. 2017). The purpose of this study is to empirically examine the willingness of positive word of mouth communication by gender, and generation.
Several research studies have shown that measuring customer satisfaction’s management and measurement alone, without variables that have an impact on profitability or other desired outcomes, is not sufficient (Erjavec 2015). Loyalty, as a specific expression of student satisfaction, can be manifested in a variety of ways. For instance, by studying at the next level of education at the same university, by spreading positive information, by recommending university programs to others (Webb and Jagun 1997). Since research on repurchasing of university products is more appropriate for secondary research, we have chosen to examine only one of the components of loyalty, namely the willingness of students to spread positive information about the university. Thanks to it, the universities maintain a reputation and, more importantly, get new students in a completely natural way. Fact, that customer satisfaction drives word of mouth is quite straightforward and not very surprising: practically every textbook on customer satisfaction states somewhere that satisfied customers speak positively about the company whereas dissatisfied customers spread the negative word (Kraigher-Krainer et al. 2017). The scholars result also show that university provides no basis for differentiation among the constructs, but age and gender play a significant role in determining the different perceptions of students about the loyalty (Annamdevula and Bellamkonda 2016). Even though there is some evidence which suggests, that elderly consumer tend to be more brand loyal compared to younger consumers (Mathur et al. 2017). Results from surveys also show that they should be interpreted differently for men and women and loyalty programs should adapt their approach, to incorporate gender differences into loyalty reinforcing measures (Audrain-Pontevia and Vanhuele 2016).

Methodology

According to the purpose of this study, to empirically examine the willingness of positive word of mouth communication by gender, and generation, two hypotheses were formulated:
• H10: There is not a statistically significant difference in the willingness of positive word of mouth communication by gender. H1A: There is a statistically significant difference in the willingness of positive word of mouth communication by gender.
• H20: There is not a statistically significant difference in the willingness of positive word of mouth communication by generation. H2A: There is a statistically significant difference in the willingness of positive word of mouth communication by generation.
The study utilised a quantitative design. The survey was conducted in a private university with a population of about 2,100 students. The data were collected using convenience sampling during the winter semester of the academic year 2018/2019 in two groups of bachelor level full-time students. There were 114 usable responses, which represent 95% of the sample. The respondents’ demographic data (see Table 1) showed that male students represented 44.74% of the sample (N=51) and female students represented 55.27% of the sample (N=63). Table 1 also presents the structure of the respondents by generation.

Table 1: The structure of the respondents by gender and generation
Source: Author

Paper and pencil interviewing were used for data collection. Respondents willingness of positive word of mouth communication were examined on three items with the questions as follows: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the statements “I say positive things about my university to other people (furthermore WoMC1). I recommend my university to someone who seeks my advice (furthermore WoMC2). I encourage friends and relatives to do a study at my university (furthermore WoMC3).” Seven points Likert scale was used to collect the answer with responses from “agree” (7 points) to “disagree” (1 point).
Used questions came from Zeithaml and Berry (1996) scale and were part of a 13 items set proposed for measuring a wide range of behavioural intentions. Also, they were used for instance as a validity measure of OFFSERVSENT questionnaire (Thelen et al. 2011) or in the negative word of mouth form to measure direct effects of anger and dissatisfaction on behavioural responses (Bougie et al. 2003).
Reliability of the scale items was checked, by calculation of internal reliability Cronbach alpha coefficient, because of the version translated to the Slovak language was used. The coefficient alpha for the reliability of the entire set was 0.8748. Table 2 shows coefficients for individual items. According to several authors the range reliability can be regarded as excellent if alpha > 0.9, good if alpha > 0.8, acceptable if alpha > 0.7, questionable if alpha > 0.6 and uncertain if alpha is > 0.5. According to the results, the reliability of the scale was acceptable.

Table 2: Correlation matrix of word of mouth communication willingness items
Source: Author

Overall word of mouth communication willingness (furthermore WoMCW) index was calculated as follows: WoMCW = (WoMC1+WoMC2+WoMC3)/3.
For choosing a right comparison method, Shapiro-Wilk W normality test was used to determine if normal distribution models a data set. As Table 3 shows, Shapiro-Wilk W test rejects the normal distribution hypothesis for all dataset (p<.0001), and also for partial data set tests. After that non-parametric Wilcoxon / Kruskal-Wallis Tests were used to verify stated hypotheses.

Table 3: The results of normality tests
Source: Author

The data were analysed using SAS JMP14 software. The described methodology has some limitations. Firstly, it is not easy to generalise results because of convenience sampling procedures were being used. Secondly a perceived lack of privacy or confidentiality, because of paper and pencil questionnaire, could cause response bias because of fear from reprisal. Thirdly, only two generations were compared because of the selected sample. This research has been applied to a specific university. The research should be expanded to other institutions offering higher education.

Results

As Table 4 presents, there are some mean value differences in the word of mouth communication willingness. While men showed willingness with a rating around value 5.4, women with a rating around value 6.4. The revealed rating could mean that willingness of men is different from women. As the table also shows, the resulting p-value test (p < 0.0001) means, that we reject hypothesis H10, and after that, we can consider the differences between willingness by gender as statistically significant.

Table 4: Word of mouth communication willingness (WoMCW) by gender
Source: Author

As Table 5 presents, there are some mean value differences in the word of mouth communication willingness. While Generation Y showed willingness with a rating around value 5.8, Generation Z with a rating around value 6.1. The revealed rating could mean that the willingness of Generation Y is different from Generation Z. As table also shows, the resulting p-value test (p = 0.1708) means, that we failed to reject hypothesis H20, and after that, we cannot consider the differences as statistically significant.

Table 5: Word of mouth communication willingness (WoMCW) by generation
Source: Author

Conclusion

Institutions of higher education are increasingly moving towards including a student relationship perspective in their strategic planning, which makes student loyalty a central aspect of any market strategy (Helgesen and Nesset 2011). Although the literature on the topic of customer satisfaction and loyalty is very rich, there are only a few studies on loyalty from students’ perspective in higher education (Shahsavar and Sudzina 2017).
Research has found that university’s students are mostly willing to spread positive information about their alma mater. The statistically significant differences in the willingness of positive word of mouth communication by gender were confirmed. We failed to reject the hypothesis about differences in gender.
The study provides, for managers, a practical overview regarding variables affecting students’ loyalty. Research has found that university’s students are mostly willing to spread positive information about their alma mater. However, in order to gain the willingness to disseminate positive information about the university, management must not forget other stakeholders. Matching the students’ needs and wants cannot slip into the benevolence in exams, teaching or an overall lack of quality.

Literatúra/List of References

[1] Annamdevula, S. and Bellamkonda, R. S., 2016. The effects of service quality on student loyalty: the mediating role of student satisfaction. In: Journal of Modelling in Management. 2016, 11(2), pp. 446-462. ISSN 1746-5664. [online]. [cit. 2018-11-03]. Available at: <doi:10.1108/JM2-04-2014-003>
[2] Audrain-Pontevia, A. F. and Vanhuele, M., 2016. Where do customer loyalties really lie, and why? Gender differences in store loyalty. In: International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management. 2016, 44(8), pp. 799-813. ISSN 0959-0552. [online]. [cit. 2018-11-03]. Available at: <doi:10.1108/IJRDM-01-2016-0002>
[3] Bougie, R. et al., 2003. Angry customers don’t come back, they get back: The experience and behavioral implications of anger and dissatisfaction in services. In: Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. 2003, 31(4), pp. 377-393. ISSN 0092-0703. [online]. [cit. 2018-11-03]. Available at: <doi:10.1177/0092070303254412>
[4] Erjavec, H. S. U., 2015. Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty within part-time students. In: Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research. 2015, 16(2), pp. 1-16. ISSN 1533-3590.
[5] Helgesen, Ø. and Nesset, E., 2011. Does LibQUAL1+ account for student loyalty to a university college library? In: Quality Assurance in Education. 2011, 19(4), pp. 413-440. ISSN 0968-4883. [online]. [cit. 2018-11-03]. Available at: <doi:10.1108/09684881111170104>
[6] Kraigher-Krainer, J. et al., 2017. The hidden impact of word-of-mouth: A system dynamics approach. In: Marketing Science and Inspirations. 2017, 12(3), pp. 17-27. ISSN 1338-7944.
[7] Mathur, A. et al., 2017. Beyond cognitive age: developing a multitheoretical measure of age and its assessment. In: Journal of Marketing Analytics. 2017, 5(1), pp. 31-43. ISSN. [online]. [cit. 2018-11-03]. Available at: <doi:10.1057/s41270-017-0011-9>
[8] Rizkallah, E. G. and Seitz, V., 2017. Understanding student motivation: a key to retention in higher education. In: Scientific Annals of Economics and Business. 2017, 64(1), pp. 45-57. ISSN 2501-1960. [online]. [cit. 2018-11-03]. Available at: <doi:10.1515/saeb-2017-0004>
[9] Shahsavar, T. and Sudzina, F., 2017. Student satisfaction and loyalty in Denmark: Application of EPSI methodology. In: PLoS One. 2017, 12(12). ISSN 1932-6203. e0189576. [online]. [cit. 2018-11-03]. Available at: <doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0189576>
[10] Štrach, P., 2017. Reaching to the top: How universities may race to the bottom. In: Marketing Science and Inspirations. 2017, 12(4), pp. 57-59. ISSN 1338-7944.
[11] Tahal, R. et al., 2017. Loyalty programs and personal data sharing preferences in the Czech Republic. In: E+M Ekonomie a Management. 2017, 20(1), pp. 187-199. ISSN 1212-3609. [online]. [cit. 2018-11-03]. Available at: <doi:10.15240/tul/001/2017-1-013>
[12] Thelen, S. T. et al., 2011. An examination of consumer sentiment toward offshored services. In: Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. 2011, 39(2), pp. 270-289. ISSN 0092-0703. [online]. [cit. 2018-11-03]. Available at: <doi:10.1007/s11747-010-0192-7>
[13] Watjatrakul, B., 2014. Factors affecting students’ intentions to study at universities adopting the “student-as-customer” concept. In: International Journal of Educational Management. 2014, 28(6), pp. 676-693. ISSN 0951-354X. [online]. [cit. 2018-11-03]. Available at: <doi:10.1108/IJEM-09-2013-0135>
[14] Webb, D. and Jagun, A., 1997. Customer care, customer satisfaction, value, loyalty and complaining behaviour: validation in a UK university setting. In: Journal of Customer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behaviour. 1997, 10, pp. 139-151. ISSN 0899-8620.
[15] Zeithaml, V. A. and Berry, L. L., 1996. The behavioral consequences of service quality. In: Journal of Marketing. 1996, 60(April), pp. 31-46. ISSN 0022-2429. [online]. [cit. 2018-11-03]. Available at: <doi:10.2307/1251929>

Kľúčové slová/Key Words

higher education institution, loyalty, word of mouth, gender, generation
vysokoškolská inštitúcia, lojalita, od úst k ústam, rod, generácia

JEL klasifikácia/JEL classification

M31, I23

Résumé

Ochota študentov ústne šíriť dobré meno univerzity v závislosti od rodu a generácie

Budovanie lojality umožňuje univerzitám nadviazať s dlhodobé vzťahy o súčasnými a bývalými študentmi. Štúdia sa rozhodla preskúmať jednu zo zložiek lojality, konkrétne ochotu študentov šíriť pozitívne informácie o univerzite. Konkrétne, jej cieľom bolo empiricky preskúmať rozdiely v ochote pozitívnej komunikácie podľa rodu a generácie respondenta.
Štúdia využívala kvantitatívny dizajn. Prieskum sa uskutočnil na súkromnej vysokej škole s počtom študentov približne 2100. Údaje boli zhromaždené pomocou dotazníkového prieskumu v priebehu zimného semestra akademického roka 2018/2019 v dvoch skupinách denných bakalárskych študentov. K dispozícii bolo 114 použiteľných odpovedí.
Výskum zistil, že študenti sú väčšinou ochotní šíriť pozitívne informácie o svojej alma mater. Štatisticky významné rozdiely v ochote pozitívnej ústnej komunikácie podľa pohlavia boli potvrdené (p <.0001). Nepodarilo sa však odmietnuť hypotézu o rozdieloch v rode (p = 0.1708). Preto by univerzitné programy lojality mali prispôsobiť svoj prístup, minimálne začleniť do svojich stratégií rozdiely medzi mužmi a ženami.

Kontakt na autorov/Address

doc. PhDr. Zoltán Rózsa, PhD. Vysoká škola ekonómie a manažmentu verejnej správy v Bratislave, Furdekova 16, 851 04 Bratislava, e-mail: [email protected]

Recenzované/Reviewed

20. november 2018 / 22. november 2018