Case Wageningen University & Research: One size does not fit all anymore

Work structurally on growth for Wageningen University and Research

An important growth driver for a university is a higher intake of students. Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and Branddoctors therefore got together in the shoes of the prospective students.

We unraveled how these students arrive at a study choice and what their motives and barriers are for choosing Wageningen University or not. This formed the basis for a series of inspiring recruitment campaigns.

The result: growth!

The campaigns were specifically aimed at a number of courses of study, of which Wageningen University wanted to increase the intake. The results are impressive:

  • Molecular life sciences + 100% intake in 2 years
  • Landscape architecture + 50% inflow in 1 year
  • Plant sciences + 100% intake in 1 year
  • Tourism + 100% intake in 2 years

In addition to the above result, the campaign has had a positive effect on the image of Wageningen University.  The successful campaign has now been extended to the courses Agrotechnology, Economics & Policy and Soil, Water, Atmosphere.

What can be learned from this

1. It starts with the desire to understand your target audience very well. Not for a moment, but continuously looking for in-depth insight.

From 2009, Wageningen University and Branddoctors have been working together in a series of processes. An ever more in-depth understanding of the study choice process among the BSc, MSc and international target group was always central to these tracks.

Over the years, we spoke to approximately 250 potential Dutch and international students in group discussions and online communities. With each survey, our understanding of the different target groups increased. And we saw opportunities to actually fulfill their (latent) needs.

The whole of projects together has become so much more than the sum of its parts.

2. By actually acting on those insights you have found, you can reach, captivate and move that target group.

The recruitment campaigns are built on the following core insights in the target group: Potential students know Wageningen University, but are not the first to think about it. So they often first end up with interesting studies by others.

To be sure that this is the right choice, they look for comparable courses. Initially, they want to study something that matches the subjects they are good at and the subjects they are interested in. Only in the second instance does it become apparent that the social relevance is an important plus of the Wageningen studies compared to comparable studies.

In the recruitment campaign, Wageningen University helps potential students to bridge the gap between the interests of potential students and the programs of Wageningen University. We do this by constantly explaining the advantages of a study at Wageningen University compared to a comparable study program where they first ended up.

3. One size does not fit all anymore - take advantage of smart targeting. 1 on 1 communication at scale!

The crux of these campaigns has always been to be able to address the right potential students with the right message, namely the plus compared to comparable courses on which they are orientating.

The campaign message therefore varied per recipient, and specifically addressed interests in certain school subjects, jobs and the plus that Wageningen offers compared to comparable studies that this student focused on.

It is precisely this customization that convinced many students.


Published on
to April 9, 2020

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Lisette van Elst

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