Virgin Group Company’s Strategies Research

Title

This envisioned research will focus on the Virgin Group that is one of the dominant companies in United Kingdom. Although Richard Branson had established the company in 1989, he had laid its foundation when he ventured into the popular “Student Magazine” in 1970 (Dearlove, 2010). In this respect, the title inquires on the effectiveness of unique business approach. Is the Virgin Group the result of unique approach to business?

Introduction

Richard Branson is the fourth richest billionaire in United Kingdom who has initiated many businesses, initiatives and programs (Grant, 2013). Some of Richard’s efforts include the Virgin Group, humanity initiatives and political aspirations. However, Virgin Group is the most conspicuous entity that he has established. Business analysts have conducted research studies which have concentrated on the company’s business strategies. Such research studies have formed a good basis for new businessmen aspiring to become successful businessmen in the future. Although the analysts have evaluated the company’s business strategies and recommended it profoundly, some analysts have criticized the strategies and the entire business.

The analysts criticise the business due to application of poor strategies such as tax evasion. They argue that a business evading tax cannot be considered successful because it is based on illegal premises. Consequently, this criticism has triggered posing of a crucial question. Is Virgin Group the unique product of Richard Branson Mind? While seeking to answer this question, the research focuses on multiple factors which include conception of the company, uniqueness associated with the current business strategies, and the financial prosperity. For instance, previous research studies showed that Richard Branson had been criticised for tax evasion and charged in court. Therefore, this research could venture into evaluating the uniqueness of the company’s business strategy considering that it is based on such premises.

Many continuing and young entrepreneurs had posed a very important question especially when they learned about the criticisms surrounding the Virgin Group company. Are these the unique strategies of Richard Branson? While answering this question, the study will help young entrepreneurs to determine whether the business strategies adopted by the company are appropriate. Since the business starters could seek to evaluate the preliminary conception of Richard’s idea, the research method will analyse the uniqueness of Richard’s business from conception of the company. Additionally, the study will assist the continuing business owner to determine whether the company’s strategies are unique so that they establish whether to adopt them.

Research Question, Aim and Objectives

The envisioned research will be based on a research question that inquires about the uniqueness of Virgin’s business strategy. Is Virgin Group the unique product of Richard Branson’s mind? While considering the hypothesis of this research question, the null hypothesis could suggest that the Virgin Group is not the unique product of Branson’s mind. On the other hand, the alternative hypothesis could suggest that Virgin Group is the unique product of Richard’s mind. The research will proceed to test the validity of the alternative hypothesis and determine whether it is true or not.

The aim of this research is to determine the uniqueness of Vision Group that is one of Richard’s products. In order to fulfil this aim, there are various objectives set for the research.

  1. To review the literature related to the Virgin Group Company critically.
  2. To critically evaluate the reviews which have been made concerning Richard Branson’s strategy.
  3. To draw conclusions as to whether the Virgin business strategy is appropriate.
  4. To make necessary recommendation about the appropriateness of the company’s business strategy.
  5. To evaluate the extent to which the success of virgin group is a product of Richard’s unique approach used by Richard Branson.

Literature Review

Dearlove (2010) argued that the core values of the Virgin Group are probably the crucial aspects of success. He ventured into defending the company against criticisms surrounding the appropriateness of this company. In his argument, Dearlove (2010) suggested that despite the diversification of business, which might appear as risky, the ideologies of Virgin Group have never changed. This was in line with a statement by Richard Branson who stated that the company has always diversified its businesses in accordance to those values. While attempting to expound on Richard’s statement, Dearlove (2010) explained that the company had observed values such as, challenging authority, offering value for money, outdoing competitors, and focusing on market expansion.

Further, he argued that the success of the company is always owing to the consistent application of these ideologies in all business ventures (Dearlove, 2010). This implies that venturing into multiple businesses will not impair the progress of the company because the development of those sectors is based on these values. The author further observes that the Virgin Group does not invest in businesses before carrying out satisfactory research to determine the appropriateness of that venture. For example, when Richard decided to introduce the company, he had conducted a detailed research investigating on whether the group could have offered anything new to the market (Dearlove, 2010). He aimed at offering products that had not been introduced in the market (Dearlove, 2010).

He further realized that the company had carried out profound research about the corporate strategy that Richard applied in this company (Dearlove, 2010). Grant (2013) additionally noted that the most crucial business strategy, which has resulted to the success of Virgin Group, is Richard’s philosophy of diversification. Virgin Group has diversified its investments where it incorporated a mixture of businesses resulting to about 200 different businesses (Dearlove, 2013). These businesses fall under seven categories of the business that include Virgin Travel, Virgin Rail, Virgin Media, Virgin Cinemas, Virgin Music and Virgin Hotels. Through this diversification, the company has created a large network of investment in Britain and foreign countries (Dearlove, 2010).

In a similar research focusing on the company, Grant (2013) observed that the Virgin Group has been one of the companies which have implemented the brand extension successfully. In this regard, he observed that the company used its name to venture into other businesses successfully (Grant, 2013). In fact, he stated that the company’s name was undoubtedly the most important asset the company has. The name enables this company to popularize new products using the same brand (Grant, 2013). This strategy has been at the heart of their success considering that they have managed to invest in multiple sectors of investments.

However, he expressed his concerns towards the company’s marketing strategies, which seemed to underpin the effect of this brand, stating that the Virgin Group had previously overlooked the market sector. When the company decided to venture into various markets, which were originally dominated by their pretty inefficient competitors, they used their company’s brand to gradually take on those business sectors (Grant, 2013). As a result, he concluded that the success of the company does not only rely on the popularity of their brand. Instead, it is also purported by the manner in which Virgin Group uses their brand to conquer other companies (Grant, 2013).

In addition, Johnson & Scholes, (2009) restated Grant’s position arguing that the company had created a strong brand as a business strategy. They similarly observed that Richard Branson conducted robust marketing strategies which popularised Virgin Group profoundly. He won over the public attracting them towards the company. In addition, research shows that the term ‘Virgin’ is used interchangeably with the Richard Branson (Johnson & Scholes, 2009). The public is willing to pursue anything associated with Richard Branson or Virgin Group. Other companies have shown interest to involve Virgin Group in order to earn support in United Kingdom. For example, Apple Company involved Richard, who symbolise Virgin Group, in their advertisement that popularised Apple products in Britain. The strategy of brand creation has allowed the company to invest in multiple businesses where all ventures bear the term “Virgin”.

While still focusing on the business strategies, Johnson & Scholes, 2009) further realized that Richard Branson emphasised on innovation. The company produces new products frequently attracting more customers into the business (Johnson & Scholes, 2009). Further, he suggested that innovation has inspired the rapid diversification of business. In this case, Virgin Group ventures into new investments and innovates new ways of shaping the business rather than using the old strategies applied by other companies. Moreover, Johnson & Scholes, (2009) pointed out that the company aimed at bringing new innovations and providing them at low price. This enables the company to spread the company’s brand to at a low cost in order to increase its competition advantage (Johnson & Scholes, 2009).

Additionally, he revealed that the company is committed to adding value on the employees, management and the entire business. In this regard, they apply various ideologies which include focusing on institutional markets, overcoming barriers by using the Virgin brand, reducing risks in joint ventures, and using free management to purport development of decision making strategies.

Furthermore, Grant (2013) while still focusing on the on the issues facing Virgin Group and the criticism that have emerged from such issues, pointed out that the company previously over-depended on their airlines leading to business imbalance (Grant, 2013). This argument was supported by Dearlove in his report stating that such overdependence was essentially dangerous since the airlines were always cyclic (Dearlove, 2010). Dearlove elaborated this situation explaining that introduction of free trade led to incurrence of losses during that financial year (Dearlove, 2010).

Moreover, he pointed out that the company’s rail that was termed as the most undesirable in 2000. Additionally, the statistics ranked the rail as the 23rd rail out of 25 rail companies (Dearlove, 2010). This condition reduced the reputation of Richard Branson and the entire company. The competitors took advantage of this situation and criticised the company for reducing its proficiency. Lastly, he revealed that Richard Branson had a lot of issues with the tax authorities owing to tax evasion in United Kingdom. This remained a controversial issue affecting the credibility of the company.

All the available literature has focused on the corporate strategies of Virgin Group including marketing strategy, R&D strategy, and HR strategy among other strategies that have led to the prosperity of the company. However, they have not focused on the uniqueness of Virgin Group as one of Richard’s idea. This implies that there is a research gap that should be closed by conducting thorough research on the uniqueness of his entire business during conception and operation.

Research Approach

A pragmatic research design integrating the qualitative and quantitative approaches will be used in this research (Balsley, 1970). This design proves to be appropriate since the research have qualitative and qualitative aspects. In this case, the qualitative approach will inquire whether the Virgin Group is the unique product or not. People will be giving their opinions concerning the subject matter. However, in order to determine whether it is the unique product or not, some descriptive statistics should be computed. The descriptive statistics that could be used in this research include mean, mode and median (Creswell, 2003). For example, it is important to find the mean annual income of the company as compared to other businesses. Additionally, descriptive statistics could find the frequency of people who do not believe that it is the unique product against the ones who believe. This implies that the research must be approached from a qualitative and quantitative dimension.

In addition, the research will assume a cross-sectional approach because it is both comparative and inquisitional. The inquisitional part enables the researcher to inquire about the uniqueness of the product. On the other hand, the comparison allows the researcher to compare the Virgin Group with other ideas of Richard Branson.

Research Methods

In order to meet the purpose of this research, the research will involve exploratory and constructive research methods. Exploratory method will be used to identify the problems revolving around the topic. This method will, also, help to identify the relevant questions that could be used to inquire on the topic. After applying exploratory method, it is important that the researcher conducts a constructive research. This method seeks to find the pertinent solutions to the problems stipulated in the empirical study. This implies that the combination of empirical and constructive approaches will provide holistic information about the unique approach of Richard’s strategy.

Project Plan

Scope
  • The scope of the envisioned research concentrates on determining the uniqueness of the business strategies that have been applied by Richard while managing the Virgin Group.
  • In addition, it will investigate about the appropriateness of those strategies in the business world.
  • Lastly, it will cover an investigation that seeks to make relevant recommendations
Requirements
  • Questionnaires- The questionnaires will contain a set of questions which could be posed to the respondents. The inquiries will contain ten questions that revolve around the topic. In addition, these questions will include open and closed questions. This combination ensures that the respondents can add information that has not been inquired and purport focused answers respectively.
  • Stop watch- This will be used to help in managing the time during interviews. Time is a critical aspect when conducting the research study. As a result, all the activities must be conducted in time.
Schedule
  • Sampling will take 48 hours of the entire research period. Since the population is stratified into four divisions, each of the divisions will take 12 hours.
  • Data collection will take 4 days where the data for each stratification will be collected for I day.
  • Analysis will be conducted for 2 days. This will be sufficient time for proper analysis.
Quality
  • The quality of research will be maintained by ensuring that sampling, data collection, and analysis is done credibly. Flexible questionnaires will be used in order to include all the relevant themes. Researchers will use random purposive sampling to ensure that the sample is randomized and consequently reliable.
  • Data analysis and data collection will be conducted simultaneously. This allows the researcher to add relevant themes that could arise during analysis. Consequently, the sufficiency of information is assured.
Stakeholders
  • Stakeholders include respondents, data collectors and analysers.
Communication
  • Communication is very crucial to the research study. In fact, communication is as important as the entire study. The audience of this research includes respondents and fellow researchers. In that regard, communication will be both oral and written. Oral communication will use avenues such as phone calls and meetings. Written messages will be delivered through email addresses and text messages. However, oral communication will be used more than the written information since it is more efficient and reliable.
Handling Change
  • Since the study could involve changes at some points, change management will be crucial. When change is being introduced all participant will meet and discuss on how to adopt that change. This will ensure that it will be adopted without distracting the study.

Population

Population is defined as the total number of people who can provide relevant information in regard to a research study (Flick, 2008). Since the study aims at establishing the uniqueness of the Virgin Group, the population of the study includes Virgin Group management, employees, customers and the public. This implies that the population will be stratified into four different stratifications. However, not all people who are found in the stratifications could participate in the study. As a result, there are factors that determine the eligibility of population.

A manager or employee must have worked for ten years in the company to participate in the study. In addition, they must have portrayed competent capabilities during their managerial or employment period.

  1. All participants must have attained the age of 21 years
  2. Participants can either be female or male. However, the number of both genders will be balanced when sampling the population.
  3. Customers must show a loyalty card that has been issued by the company. This could ensure that they are real customers of the organization.
  4. The participants must have the willingness to take part in the study in order to ensure that the provided information is reliable.

Sampling

Sampling refers to choosing participants from the entire population since the whole population cannot take part (Grafton, 2011). In this research, random purposive sampling will be applied to sample the population. This method of sampling integrates two methods which include random sampling and purposive sampling. Random sampling ensures that the researcher does not collect the sample in order to obtain some predefined results (Seale, 2004). On the other hand, purposive sampling ensures that the researcher collects people who are most relevant to the study (Mitchell & Jolley, 2010). For example, customers must have a loyalty card that is given by the company. This implies that the customer has sufficient knowledge about the company’s products. Otherwise, collecting customers who are not loyal to the company might result to unreliable results.

Data Collection Methods

Data will be collected by interviewing respondents and administrating questionnaires. While interviewing respondents, Shank (2006) suggests that flexible questionnaires are the most effective. In this case, they allow alteration of questions in order to include important themes that might arise during data collection (Shank, 2006). Also, it allows the researcher to remove themes that are irrelevant to the study. During interview, time is very important since the study has to be conducted within designated time frame. As a result, the interviewer will need a stop watch that will be used to measure time.

Data Analysis

Since the research design incorporates qualitative and quantitative research designs, the two analyses have to be conducted. As a result, qualitative analysis will be conducted along with quantitative analysis. The analysis and data collection will take place simultaneously to allow the manipulation of the flexible questionnaires. This manipulation enables the researchers to update the questionnaires in accordance to the analysis (Trochim & Donnelly, 2006). While measuring uniqueness, the research will use a ratio scale which incorporates the aspects of nominal, ordinal and interval scales. It organises the data in ascending order and includes the intervals between data points. The scale will also provide a basis for quantitative data since the intensity will be measured on an interval between 1 and 5. Lastly, the analysis will consider uniqueness as the sole variable which is reflected in the research question.

Field Test

In order to determine the validity of the research methodology, a field test will be conducted prior to the real survey. This field test will involve the entire process of the actual study which includes sampling, data collection and analysis (Fang, 2011). The test will help to determine the challenges that might emerge during the actual study. Consequently, it will form the basis of preparation so that those problems will not affect the study substantially.

Planning and Resources

The first activity that will be conducted is the field test since it is done before the actual survey. The field test will take three days where all the activities of actual studies will be tested. The results of the field test will be discussed for one day in order to identify the challenges that could be experienced during the study. During the actual study, sampling will be conducted for 48 hours where the sampling of a single stratification will take 12 hours. After sampling, data will be collected using questionnaires where each question will take one minute. Since the questionnaire will have 10 questions, each person will be interviewed in 10 minutes.

The availability of respondents and information is very crucial in this study (Smith, 2010). It is evident that the population is stratified into four stratifications. Customers and public respondents can be easily found since they might not have much commitment. However, the managers and employees might not have enough time to participate in the study. This implies that they have to be notified two weeks prior to the commencement of actual study. Additionally, obtaining information about the strategy of the company will be pretty easy. However, obtaining information about the uniqueness of the business strategy is essentially involving.

References

Balsley, H 1970, Quantative research methods for business and economics, Random House, New York.

Creswell, J 2003, Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks.

Dearlove, D 2010, Book Review: Business the Richard Branson way 10 secrets of the world’s greatest brand builder, Capstone, Oxford.

Fang, X 2011, Field test protocol standard internal load generation for unoccupied test homes, Mage Publishers, Washington.

Flick, U 2008, Designing Qualitative Research, Sage Publications, London.

Grant, R 2013, Contemporary strategy analysis: Text and cases, Wiley, Chichester.

Grafton, J 2011, Mixed Methods Research in Accounting, Emerald Group Publishers, Bradford.

Johnson, G & Scholes, K 2009, Review Exploring corporate strategy, FT/Prentice Hall, Essex.

Mitchell, M & Jolley, J 2010, Research design explained, Wardsworth Publishers, South Wales.

Seale, C 2004, Qualitative research practice, Sage Publications, London.

Shank, G 2006, Qualitative research: a personal skills approach, Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River.

Trochim, W & Donnelly, J 2006, The research methods knowledge base, Atomic Dog Publishers, Mason.

Smith, M 2010, Research methods in sport, Learning Matters Ltd, Exeter.