Texas A&M University went through a metamorphosis in the early 1970s. It changed from a relatively small, all-male institution steeped in military traditions to a vastly larger, modern and diverse campus. The Texas A&M Foundation is responsible for the major gifts that fund academic excellence at the university. As graduates from the 70s and 80s started to have the wealth necessary to make major gifts, The Foundation found itself with a bifurcated target – some who had attended the “old” A&M and some who had attended the institution after the metamorphosis. Since the two groups had experienced A&M in different ways, there was potential that they related to the university differently. How could The Foundation define its mission and brand target given that it needed to appeal to quite different constituencies who might identify with the institution in very different ways?
What We Did
We used deep learning focus groups with former students who graduated before and after A&M’s transition to determine the key attitudinal distinctions. Then we used our insights to segment the market quantitatively and determine the relative size and value (in terms of donations) of each segment.
We recommended a brand target segment that was defined based on characteristics that transcended age or date of graduation. A brand theme was then developed to appeal to this vital segment and we worked with the key teams at The Foundation to translate the brand theme into a new way of messaging, fund-raising and thinking about the role of The Foundation at A&M.