Students from Lancaster University are working with a Cumbrian business to help them appeal to overseas customers.

As part of a marketing dissertation project, Lancaster University masters’ students are collaborating with local businesses, including Lakeland Leather, to create research proposals to aid the business’ marketing operations.

Lakeland Leather has 15 stores across the UK, five of them in Cumbria.

A group of three international students are working on developing a research proposal for Lakeland Leather on how the fashion retailer can develop an effective marketing communications strategy to attract more overseas visitors and convert these visitors into customers.

The main objective of the project is to explore behavioural characteristics of foreign tourists and offer insights into potential growth of brand awareness and an increase in sales in their Lake District stores, particularly Bowness.

The students have spent a couple of days in the Lakeland Leather store, in Bowness, gathering data and observing customers and their purchase behaviour.

Customers also completed a questionnaire created by the students to understand the purpose of their visit and purchase intentions.

Fiona Wright, head of retail at Lakeland Leather, said: “In the last five years the number of overseas tourists, particularly from China, to our stores in the Lake District has grown significantly.

“We are currently in the process of refurbing the Bowness store so any insight the students give us into what may work for foreign tourists is so helpful and will help us create a better relationship with international visitors.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the proposal conclusions and how we can utilise them to build our marketing strategy and create an enjoyable shopping experience for all customers.”

A second group of students are also working on a proposal for the retailer, investigating the potential to enter the Chinese market, accounting for opportunities, challenges and possible entry methods.

Peter Brookes, Lakeland Leather’s finance director, said: “Entering overseas markets such as the Chinese leather goods market is something we have considered.

"The research project will provide us with significant insight if we do choose to enter an international market to grow our business.”

The university students will present their findings and conclusions to the local businesses on August 9.