What organisation does a drawing of a wombat with bandages suggest to you?

This is one of the consumer research questions that three final year students from UniSA’s School of Marketing devised in their marketing research for the SA branch of the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

For four months, three final year marketing students Lauren Crozier, Kimberly Goh and Tanya Pollifrone, were based at the RSPCA’s Stepney office working on marketing strategies for the organisation’s thrift shops and surveying its brand recognition.

Practicum Coordinator, Quin Tran, understands the importance of preparing graduates for their business careers and the Marketing Practicum is a unique work integrated learning opportunity that provides a triple win. A win for the students, a win for the organisation, a win for UniSA.

“They have a solid couple of years of theory under their belts and this program is a chance to apply that knowledge in a real business with a genuine need for market research and strategic recommendations to help management make informed business decisions,” she said.

RSPCA SA Brand Marketing and Communications Manager Peter Ferguson agrees.

“The RSPCA now has pieces of research which provide an evidence base so we can move forward with solutions,” he says.

The students undertook an analysis of the RSPCA’s five thrift shops, looking at which particular segment of the population is using them and why; and how it might be possible to appeal to another demographic cohort. For example, how to encourage younger people to use the thrift shops for retro fashion.

“The students were able to get out and do some real work in the community,” Ferguson says. 

They ran in-depth interviews and in-store surveys with consumers at Lonsdale and three of our suburban shops in the city.

“They found some things the RSPCA already knew, but their study also cast some light on problems to do with adopting animals. They found out that people were unclear about the process for adopting animals and so they might just go to a pet store,” Ferguson said.

The students also undertook a study on brand recognition by devising and running an online survey, receiving more than 500 responses on their student research portal.

They found that the RSPCA brand had strong recognition, both prompted and unprompted.

“That is, people recognised things such as the tag line “All creatures great and small” and there was good recognition of the logo. In particular, people recognised the bandaged wombat as a symbol for the RSPCA,” Ferguson says.

The RSPCA is now developing action plans to enact all recommendations made by UniSA.

Areas of study and research

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