Insead became Europe’s best-known MBA by understanding the value curve of European human resources directors who hire young executives. In delivering an MBA based on the US model, premium schools such as HEC showed that they did not understand the local value curve. In Europe, recruiters do not really care how much time students have spent on campus: the extra salary one gets after having spent two years at Harvard, Stanford or Northwestern instead of less than a year at Insead is very small.
One thing recruiters do value, however, is an intensive immersion in a truly international programme, in which students learn to work with 10 different nationalities. This mirrors the working context for which they are being hired. European companies tend to consider that they will really teach their recruits how to do business in-house, and that a fast academic introduction lasting less than one year will suffice. Finally, companies prefer to rely on continuing education, providing a regular stream of specialised company seminars, throughout their managers’ working lives.
Since not all clients are alike, different brands can coexist in the same sector, because they address the value curve of different segments. This is why groups build brand portfolios. GM has a portfolio of car marques, as does the Volkswagen Group.