Virgin Group

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Running head: THE VIRGIN GROUP PARADOX

The Virgin Group Paradox:
Consistent Yet Unique

Pappa Smurf
Faculty Advisor:
October 27th 2012

THE VIRGIN GROUP PARADOX

Abstract

The Virgin Group is a conglomerate of over 200 companies. It’s multitude of products and services range includes, but certainly is not limited to music, condoms, phones, financial services, travel and leisure. The Virgin Group, also known as “Virgin,” is the brainchild of Sir Richard Branson. An eccentric entrepreneur, he instills his own values into the company to make it focused on branding and the customer experience. Branson sacrifices short term profits for a long-term goal of the “Virgin Experience.” When looking at this from a traditional business standpoint, it doesn’t seem to make sense, but it works for Branson and the Virgin Group. Virgin is a powerful brand that is loved by its customers and respected by its employees. But why is it successful? This paper will give examples to why the Virgin Groups paradoxes are key to its success. THE VIRGIN GROUP PARADOX

Introduction to the Virgin Paradox
A business paradox can provide opportunities for a company to be highly segmented and successful in the market. To think Paradoxically is to “be willing to engage in contradiction…[meaning] to integrate seemingly opposite ideas and behaviors.” (Quinn, Faerman, Thompson, Mcgrath & St.Clair, 2011) Branson implements this in Virgin by leading a company that provides consistent and unique customer experience. What makes the company consistent is Branson’s idea of what Virgin’s reason for existence. It is fun, maintains quality, competent, creates value through innovation, and promotes social responsibility. One can see that profit is not one of the primary reasons that Branson instills in the company. This is a contradiction to traditional corporations. Another paradox that one could see is that Virgin is also diverse but focused. There are over 200 companies under the Virgin Group, but there is a clear, focused message that it

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THE VIRGIN GROUP PARADOX
broadcasts to its customers. According to Virgin’s Website (2012), it “stand(s) for value for money, quality, innovation, fun and a sense of competitive challenge. [Virgin] strive(s) to achieve this by empowering employees to continually deliver an unbeatable customer experience.” This message makes Virgin one a favorite brand of customers and non-customers alike, and it started with its founder, Sir Richard Branson. The Eccentric Behind Virgin: Sir Richard Branson

To understand the Virgin Group as an organization, one must know the history of the company and Richard Branson. Branson’s early success seemed to be a contradiction. Unable to conform to traditional educational institutions because of severe dyslexia, he ended up dropping out at sixteen and started a youth-cultured magazine called Student. The magazine ended up selling $8,000 of advertising in its first edition (Richard Branson Biography, 2012). To help fund Student, Branson started Virgin in 1970 as a record mail order. In 1972 he made enough to expand Virgin to a record store and coincidentally calling it Virgin Records (Later it would grow be known as Virgin Megastores). Then, in 1984 Branson decided to expand into the airline industry. He created Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited, shuttling customers between Britain and the United States. Not stopping there, Branson continued to expand Virgin to other markets, and today companies under the Virgin Group sell everything from music, condoms, phones, financial services, travel, and leisure, among other things. The Success of Virgin can be contributed to Richard Branson’s personality and how businesses should be run. Branson has been labeled as a courageous entrepreneur, a fearless eccentric, outgoing, brash, and fun. He is always center stage of any new venture THE VIRGIN GROUP PARADOX

that Virgin plunges into and...
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