Marketing an EMBA Program in Vietnam Essay

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Marketing Plan

The following a marketing plan for entering the Vietnamese market. There will be several issues covered, including the market and product analysis, external analysis, an internal analysis, and an action plan. Then there will be conclusions. The Vietnamese market is a terrible one to enter, in short. There has to be a better market. While the market is large in population, and its wealth is growing, the average Vietnamese cannot afford to pay tuition for Western-quality higher education. The actual size of the market, which would consist only of wealthy Vietnamese students who cannot get into Western schools, is quite small. The report will outline the size of this market, and how best this market can be reached.


The product we are selling is higher education. The business school proposes to enter the Vietnamese market with numerous courses of study. There are two products -- a baccalaureate degree and an MBA, that are options for this market. The MBA has the best chance of success, because the market for an MBA consists of professionals who are able to pay. The market is basically Vietnamese professionals in their late 20s and early 30s who are in progressive positions that give them the ability to invest in their future, but who for whatever reason lack the ability to go to the West to study there.

An MBA program, or Executive MBA program, is an opportunity for experienced professionals to gain a sense of reflection about best practices in business, synthesizing their experience with theory (Roglio & Light, 2009). Because of their experience, Executive MBA students have lower barriers to success, and conventional measures such as GMAT scores are not correlated with that success (Gropper, 2007), which means the EMBA program can be offered with lower barriers to entry, though other studies contradict this (Siegert, 2010). An EMBA program typically allows students to learn with a combination of classroom and distance learning, which allows for greater flexibility in terms of time dedicated (Desanctis & Sheppard, 2010). This product attribute, if implemented, with further reduce the friction in the sales process.

Students are motivated to pursue EMBA programs by a number of factors. A study of students in Hong Kong revealed that most students pay for their own MBA (Thompson & Gui, 2000). That study highlighted that the main reasons are to improve analytical ability, to learn more about business management, to get the MBA qualification and generally to get better at the job (Thompson & Gui, 2000). Satisfaction relates both to factors involving the degree itself, but also to the school, so both should be taken into consideration in the marketing program (Grady, 2010). Another product-related consideration is the international component. It is expected that Vietnamese students want an EMBA in part for the exposure to Western business practices, and that demand would be higher for a program that gave them an international business component, especially with the recent stagnation in the Vietnamese economy (Tho, 2013). Having an international component has been shown to improve outcomes for graduates on the cognitive, behavioural and attitude levels (Schuster et al., 1998).

Hilgert (1995) showed that EMBA students expect to have "life changing" outcomes, and broader perspectives about the world. This tells us something about the pain points we are trying to solve with this program. The target market is generally successful in their respective fields, but having come up in Vietnam, and maybe without the benefit of formal business education, feel limited in trying to either scale their business, or to break into multinational firms and build a career outside of the Vietnamese market. This study and Thompson & Gui (2000) highlight the desire for broader perspectives in management, including formal understanding of business theory and its practical application, as main pain points that EMBA students are trying to solve.


Knowing a little bit about the product that students are looking for helps when designing the course, and certainly helps contextualize the marketing via known market pain points. But there is also a need to understand the market more closely prior to entry. We know that Vietnam has a large population of 95 million, that 2/3 of the people live in rural areas, that the country has a low, but growing GDP per capita (CIA World Factbook, 2016). These figures are not bad, but neither do they make a case for Vietnam as the best choice of investment.

Vietnam's business environment is generally poor. The country is run by a Communist government, which exerts strong control over business. This is particular true in the education sector, where in 2012 Decree 73 was passed, placing strict rules for foreign educational institutions operating in Vietnam. The minimum investment is set at $15million USD, and there is a minimum cost per student of $7,500 USD. This places a cap on the size of the market. Furthermore, the venture has to include content developed by Vietnamese educational institutions, which is sort of counter to the point of getting an EMBA from a western school, and therefore lowers the attractiveness of the product There are stipulations with respect to teacher-student ratio as well (ICEF, 2012)

While entrepreneurism is high in Vietnam, bureaucracy is also high. Corruption is a major issue, and Vietnam ranks 112th out of 168 countries on the corruption perceptions index (Transparency International, 2016). The government has, however, made significant investments in its education system in recent years, leading to decent scores on international evaluations (The Economist, 2013), though there remains concern about the high dropout rate. This investment in education provides a decent baseline level of knowledge, which makes Vietnamese students who enter EMBA programs in their 20s and 30s better-equipped to succeed, having already established literacy and numeracy.

There is also the issue of gender in terms of the market. In general, EMBA programs are valuable for women, who perform well in these programs in terms of expected outcomes of broadened perspectives and cognitive flexibility (Hilgert, 1998). Female entrepreneurship is viewed as a pathway to economic growth, unlocking the abilities of 50% of the population that in many cultures ends up shut off from economic opportunity (Kobeissi, 2010). Female entrepreneurs have been identified as important to economic growth in Vietnam specifically (Gerrard, Schoch & Cunningham, 2007). There is definitely a market for female participation in the EMBA program, though in a country where female entrepreneurs are still expected to play traditional roles in the home, it is worth studying what accommodations need to be made in order to effectively target this market.

In marketing, consideration needs to be paid to psychographics. Swierczek and Thai (2003) conducted a study of Vietnamese SME owners and found that they were primarily motivated by achievement and challenge, rather than by the necessity for a career or by economic security. Tapping into these motivations is going to be critical to successfully marketing this program to Vietnamese entrepreneurs and managers.

As for reaching the market, it is worth noting that in the two major cities that drive Vietnam's economy -- the capital Hanoi and the largest city Saigon -- Vietnam is an educated, wired place. Some 40% of all Vietnamese access the Internet on a daily basis, smartphone ownership is rising rapidly and as a young country where 40% of people are under 25, there is potential for further growth by targeting this upwardly mobile, connected young entrepreneur class (Davis, 2016).

Internal Analysis

The business school has some strengths, in that it has been able to cultivate a positive reputation over….....

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Kobeissi, N. (2010). Gender factors and female entrepreneurship: International evidence and policy implications. Journal of International Entrepreneurship. Vol. 8 (1) 1-35.

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Swierczek, F. & Thai, T. (2003) Motivation, entrepreneurship and the performance of SMEs in Vietnam. Journal of Enterprising Culture. Vol. 11 (1) 47.

Tho, T. (2013) Vietnamese economy at the crossroads: New doi moi for sustained growth. Asian Economic Policy Review. Vol. 8 (1) 122-143.

Thompson, E. & Gui, Q. (2000). Hong Kong executive business students' motivations for pursuing an MBA. Journal of Business Education. Vol. 75 (4) 236-240.

CIA World Factbook (2016). Vietnam. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved December 11, 2016 from

Davis, B. (2016) Vietnam: The quite economic success story of Asia. Forbes. Retrieved December 11, 2016 from

ICEF (2012). New government decree tightens regulations on foreign-based educational institutions in Vietnam. ICEF Monitor. Retrieved December 11, 2016 from

The Economist (2013). Very good on paper. The Economist. Retrieved December 11, 2016 from

Transparency International (2016) Vietnam. Transparency International. Retrieved December 11, 2016 from

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