Manchester student life – research to support the Union’s strategic plan
  • August 12, 2016

Manchester student life – research to support the Union’s strategic plan

Alterline’s research and consultancy support, alongside their ground breaking segmentation were instrumental in the development of our new strategic plan. They brought real insight and challenge to the process and transformed our understanding and relationship with our students.Ben Ward - Union Director

With over 43,000 students the University of Manchester Students’ Union has the largest membership of any union in the country and with that size of population the challenges of engagement and relevance are further magnified. The Union has raised the funding to invest in physical facilities and is now looking to match that investment with the development of a new strategic direction. To ensure the new plan is rooted in a deep understanding of students’ wants and needs the Union commissioned Alterline to undertake a comprehensive study of Manchester student life.


Beginning with a review of existing research and a collaborative workshop, Alterline worked closely with the Union to scope and shape the project. An online survey with over 4,500 students followed by five on-line focus groups provided a rich dataset. From there we carried out detailed analysis, working with the Union to help them make the most of the findings prior to delivering a comprehensive report with key recommendations.

One of the key objectives of the research was to provide the evidence for a sophisticated segmentation of the Manchester student population. We identified five segments (highlighted below) each with a distinct set of attitudes and motivations towards life and university. We explored the similarities and differences between the segments in the focus groups to provide further insight and inform our segmentation model.  A ‘segmentation manual’ detailing a comprehensive breakdown of each of the segments, is now being used to underpin strategic action and marketing activity.

The actionable insight has provided a clear direction for the Union’s 2020 plan. The Union now understands their students in a much more nuanced and personal way; has a clear understanding of their needs; and has a plan to develop their future services and actions that will increase engagement and make them more relevant.

Segments NEW-01