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QUESTION 1: What examples does the case give of links between Branson’s strategy for Virgin and the environment in which it operates?

The Virgin Group Ltd is a group of separately run British companies with the Virgin brand under the leadership of English celebrity business tycoon Sir Richard Branson. The core business areas are travel, entertainment and lifestyle, among others.

Richard Branson’s strategy comes from his deepest inner beliefs;

“in principle there were no product or service boundries
limiting a brand name, provided it was associated with
quality products/services on offer”

The corporate strategy of the Virgin Group is to operate like ‘a venture capital firm based on the Virgin brand.’ This strategy involves non-related diversification at the individual business unit level. Meanwhile, synergies are created from hierarchical relationships and the interaction of the corporate head office with individual business units. By leveraging on the Virgin Brand which has established prominence in the minds of consumers, Virgin is able to enter new business areas with a bang and shake up existing orders. The unique Virgin culture also allows Virgin to break into new markets and execute its ventures very effectively.

Virgin’s corporate strategy is best described in the Virgin Charter – the individual businesses are focused and develop as autonomous enterprises under a single unified brand name. This decentralization of organizational structure and decision making allows an entrepreneurial environment for managers to pursue their businesses effectively, while avoiding the bureaucracy associated with large centralised corporations.

At the same time, the individual businesses benefit from the world-wide, inter-industrial reputation of the parent corporation’s Virgin brand and are able utilize this brand recognition in their marketing efforts. This benefit of corporate parenting would not be available to them if they were operating under their own subsidiary brands, and is perhaps the greatest source of synergy within the Virgin Group. In this manner Furthermore, Virgin has been able to deal with the potential downsides of autonomy and decentralization. To prevent the breakdown of communication links and individual business units pursuing their own strategies in an uncoordinated fashion (that could potentially be detrimental to the umbrella Virgin brand), the Virgin Charter sets out a management system and internet business strategy that takes advantage of information technology and the digital age to further establish the Virgin brand. A single website,, is where consumers can go to have access to all the Virgin services under one single portal. This is an example of cross-branding, to which has made Richard Branson millions.

This strategy helps to reinforce the corporate parenting strategy and enhance the synergies already derived from the corporate branding of the Virgin Group. By aggregating all the services into a single Virgin portal, the customer is able to access multiple services through a single distribution channel, and is enticed to turn into a ‘Virgin Customer’ where he comes to Virgin for his telecommunications, banking, terrestrial and extra-terrestrial transportation (Virgin Galactic), entertainment and internet service needs. In this way, the disparate Virgin businesses are able to gain from the successes from their corporate siblings – Virgin Rail gains customers referred from Virgin Mobile visiting the portal, while Virgin Money gains customers referred from Virgin Records, and so on.

Whilst if we look In comparison, competitor banking companies would hardly dream of marketing their services to a music crowd, while competitor railway companies would be hard pressed to market to mobile customers of an unrelated company. Even though the individual business units are in unrelated fields, the unified corporate...
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