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Case Study 

Emerging Markets Project

Creating a direct-to-consumer marketing strategy


About the project

Emerging Markets Project offers professional development trips for students and young professionals that enable them to explore some of the world's fastest-growing countries while gaining relevant experience for their careers. EMP's vision is to create acceptance, tolerance, and empathy toward fast-growing countries, especially in a professional context, by bridging the gap between Canada and emerging markets.

The Challenge 

The Challenge

Assessing and reporting on the key motivators that would make a student want to participate in such a program. Defining the keywords needed to reach these prospective participants online. Creating a persona with emphasis on where they might be looking online in order to satisfy their need/motivations. Determining at a high-level the tools and tactics that are required to attract these prospective participants at the right time and outlining a strategy to test the tools or tactics you’ve recommended which EMP can easily implement to gather insights. 

Understanding EMP's Pains and Target Users


The Challenge 

We knew that EMP's target audience were mainly students in Concordia, who knew about EMP through their student associations. However, the process of actually obtaining participants was very low as these student associations would often delay their responses in regards to the trips being done by EMP. 


Main Targets

We also knew that their main target for the moment was JMSB students as EMP's trips revolved around marketing themes. However, it was open to other student associations, their problem was that this pool of students was very small as their competitors - other professional development / educational abroad program offered on university campus that extend learning beyond the classroom such as student exchanges, internships, and conferences 


My team and I decided to do a breakdown of everyday, seeing that we only had one week to work on this project. We had goals for everyday, and we delegated different tasks to each other to get as much done. We used Notion as our platform to get organized.

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Motivation for students to study abroad.

The Challenge 

Conducting Interviews

Seeing we had a very short amount of time, we decided to create a survey that we could send out as a massive email to different student associations, departments and individuals. We were also very lucky to distribute our survey questions to more than 50 engineering students in order to have an idea of what their needs and intentions were when travelling abroad. Our survey questions composed of students who had studied abroad and those who did not. We found that the main motivation for students to travel was because they were in search of new experiences.

The Challenge 

Competitor Market

What we found in common for EMP's primary competitors was that they often created tailored and customizable tour experiences for students based on group size, parents' budget and duration of travel, the trips often counted towards university credits, often offered an opportunity for internship with an organisation in a developing country and  others offered cultural immersion programs 

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The Psychology of Travel

Knowing the value type can gives us insight on what initiated their behaviour, what motivated them to travel, this also underlies what their needs are such as the need for social status, prestige, pleasure, novelty.etc and perhaps at this point we can ask where this stems from. What are the needs that are not being met and why EMP meets these needs. Why did they seek to travel with EMP and what made them choose EMP. 


The Challenge 

After all of our research we created user personas and user stories. We decided to create three different personas, the international engineering student who wishes to travel but finds it difficult due to his expensive tuition, the business student who wants to explore different markets and the anthropology student who wishes to explore her career development. We tailored our persona stories to our findings we had in our surveys and questionnaires as we realized that the motivations for students to travel abroad depended on the program they were in.

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Every brand tells a story

I believe what EMP can start with to underline this aspect is by telling the story about how EMP came to fruition and the meaning of the logo (KUDU), although this is already underlined in the website, it is quite hidden, it should be the first thing users see, this will give it a personal touch which will make me feel users BE PART OF THE STORY. This can certainly be done by giving a personal touch by having videos, testimonials of past participants. We suggest a prominently displayed “About” page that provides the story and context of the logo, and a “we were just like you” description that endears EMP to potential clients.

Tools and Tactics for direct-to-consumer sales

We came up with a list of tools and tactics to be able and bypass the student associations as it was not sustainable nor effective for EMP. 

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The experience EMP offers is the perfect blend of expanding knowledge, experience, one’s hireability and professional network. It’s more fun than an internship, safer and less stressful than independent travel, and EMP is more attuned to student’s needs than the standard educational tourism companies, because this program has been made by former students, for students. Emerging Markets Project assures career advancement tailored to one’s interests--in both tangible and intangible ways that far exceed what a university can offer. Take a look at our report!

EMP today!

  • Our research allowed to better define their target market, it actually resulted in narrowing their target market

  • It allowed them to better understand the keywords that customers were using to get to our website

  • It inspired them to go after university partnerships directly with international departments (based on our interviews that we managed to conduct with Concordia)

  • It showed them that a lot more research would be required if we wanted to get the program just right, which led to a whole re-validation process of our value proposition

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Paula Rueda

UX Researcher & Sociologist

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