Virgin background Virgin is an international investment group that operates in over 34 countries and that employs around 50,000 people in about 400 companies worldwide. Its product ranges from mobile services to travel, finance services, music and many many more. It was funded in 1970 by Sir Richard Brannon who started the company by selling cut price records by post through his Virgin Mail Order business. The company expended really quickly and is now a well-recognized and trusted brand all around the world.
Virgin group companies even far apart from each other are like one big family that is instant in the delivery of its brand message and the values it stands for. Each company is empowered to run their individual affairs but they do help one another to seek solutions and advancement. Their cohesion across states and countries reinforce their image and inspire trust among consumers. Virgin believes in making a difference and that is what probably gives them an edge on competitors.
They are an innovative company who work really hard towards sustainability and who give back to communities. “At our core we believe business must be a force for good and use its influence and resources to help find solutions to some of the world’s major issues” (virgin. Com). Their involvement in long-term sustainable project has placed them in the world top 25 most innovative companies. Its Australian airline segment has also been experiencing huge growth in recent years. Their marketing campaign as well as their brand strategy is both fun and fascinating in many aspects.
This essay will consequently analyze their trademark and its impact on consumer behavior and attempt to explain what has made this company so popular amongst consumers. Different marketing concept and theories will be used to get a better understanding of how the company marketing effort work as a whole and more closely in Australia. Virgin brand analysis Brand personality Science is now able to explain a lot of things that were mysteries a few decades ago. The discovery of DNA has opened new doors in medicine, crime solving but also in marketing. The difference between you or any other human being is 0. 5%. The real factor that differentiates us is in the expression of our genes and in how we communicate the difference in that expression (2002). Similarly brand personality act as the DNA of a company. Commercial brand have evolved and now resemble more to a person than an abstract object. It stands for something, have core values, a vision, a motto and many attributes that make it more human and that differentiate it from competitors. I nee Vulgar group Is a great example AT a strong Drank personality Richard Brannon has given his company a multidimensional perspective.
For consumers, Virgin is more than Just a brand. It has it’s own personality and consumers are more prone to purchase from a brand that “clicks” with their personality. The personality of Virgin could be described as; fun, courageous, sexy, innovative, CEO-minded and daring. The Virgin brand values have stayed unchanged for 40 years and aren’t Just an image but a reflection of their very essence and the way they do business (virgin. Com). Similarly, a brand enables people to express their own self.
These traits given to Virgin are related to a theory that incorporates 5 dimensions that help further explain how consumer connects with certain traits of a brand. Those 5 dimensions consist of; sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness (Asker,1997). For Virgin the 4 first dimensions are definitely the strongest allowed so let’s explain them further . If you look at this last decade, the growth for sustainability and CEO-friendly causes has been colossal. As we learn more on the impact of our action on the planet we realize that things need to change.
Not only us as individual human being need to change but companies and society as a whole. Richard Brannon has understood that early on and maybe even before it became so popular. He has remolded his company around that evermore-growing trend by investing large amount into the Virgin green fund and different charities. This fund allows resources to go towards developing ii-fuel, renewable energy, CEO-tourism and many others “green causes”. By doing so, MR.. Brannon has attracted many like-minded consumers who longed for sustainability. In other words, they share the dimension of sincerity with the company.
They share common traits such as; genuineness, honesty, cheerfulness and consumers know that by opting for the virgin brand, they also give their money to a company that will invest towards achieving that common goal they share. Another of virgin’s brand dimension is found in the company’s provocative and humorous advertisement campaigns . Their last campaign on virgin money has rated enormous attention by its sexual references and the use of older couples to turn the ad into a Joke. The company is known for “shaking things up” and doing things that everyone else say shouldn’t.
These personality traits of imaginativeness, high-spirit, daringness attract many younger consumers who connect with this dimension of excitement because it’s fun and dangerous. A proof of this is their fans’ base on Backbone; their most popular age group is between 24 and 35. Young consumer can relate to this type of behavior and are more inclined to connect with this style of advertisement. Their Virgin Oceanic project is even more daring with its wild mission to visit the deepest part of the sea that has never been explored before.
This project pushes a step further innovation and adventure and is definitely going to draw even more attention within the youth population. Also, despite having a large array of different products in very different markets the company pusses ten same consistent message, values Ana qualities. IT you Virgin I-J mobile phone market as an example, you discover rapidly that what has created its massive success was its young modern image and strong brand petition and not its experience within the communication industry.
Consumers attracted to products and services that are reliable, efficient and trustworthy know they will find that in Virgin. This dimension refers to competence and Virgin has had to build this dimension over time with consistency and quality. Furthermore, consumers that already associate with virgin’s value will assume that the same qualities will also be true in the other companies under virgin group and adopt these companies faster and more easily which in turn build trust amongst consumers. Finally, Virgin has got a touch of glamour, especially within its airline companies.
Most advertisement of virgin airline shows beautiful arrestees and classy airplane interior design. This refers to the sophistication’s dimension. The airline definitely pushes this image to customers because low price are often associated with poor sophistication and quality. Virgin shows consumers that low price can still offer high- class quality standards and that paying less doesn’t necessarily meaner getting less. They have been extensively working on this dimension to appeal to the people injecting more with this dimension.
One of their most recent attempts at reaching these types of consumers has been the launch of business class. This happened in 2012 within Virgin Australia and even if Santa is still ahead, they are not far behind: “According to the Roy Morgan Air Travel Survey, 54% of business travelers would consider using the airline”. This can further be explained by the perceived lack of the competence dimension within Santa during the crisis that stranded all their airplane to the ground in 2011 . Now to explain even further Virgin’s marketing efforts o appeal to this class, we need to look further in other marketing theories.
Brand repositioning If we take Virgin Australia to analyses their positioning, we can see that the big airline company’s positioning strategy is “low price”. All of Virgin Australia’s service has a fee such as; meal, wireless services, livelier movies and TV shows and even water. Since they made optional services available, they can reduce the price and get competitive power from “price”. Starters, their main competitors, also have all optional services and they offer lower cost too. This is one of the reasons why Virgin had to do a “Product positioning” since the competitors were too close to their position.
If the company could not show a clear differentiation from its competitors, consumers would not have perceived a real difference and would have been less satisfied with their product since they paid more than with Starters. This extremely close positioning also meant for Virgin Australia that customers have less brand loyalty because they can’t see a clear reason why they should choose Virgin over Starters. Even though Virgin had a great primary market positioning strategy, Starters airline had overlapped the market positioning.
That is why, in 2012, Virgin Australia airline launched the Virgin Australia business class” which is obviously targeting business class people. They launched a series of executive lounge in the airport of all main cities around Australia. In that executive lounge, facilities such as; photocopier, fax, cinema, video game room, bar, data access points, cafe© and lounge areas are included . Virgin tries to create a new positioning and extend the brand. Their product repositioning strategy aimed to create a new interest within consumers and extend their market reach.
Not only Virgin Australia positioned their brand, many others too, however, few of them succeed in doing so. There are several key concepts a company needs to apply to successfully reposition their brand. First, before the repositioning, company must do extensive research on the most favorable future market and also assess the threat of potential competitors. In this case Virgin concluded that the business class was the market to target and that to alleviate the threat of their main competitor within this market (Santa) alliances needed to be done.
That’s why comprehensive icosahedra alliances overseas tit Air New Zealand, Delta, Tithed, Singapore Airlines, Hawaiian and Virgin Atlantic (Wilson,2012) were made. Secondly, it is important not to launch many new services but one that is well built and polished. The reason is that it could damage the original brand’s characteristic and consumers could get lost in the process. Virgin has accomplished that in the launch of its business class by targeting a specific portion of the market and ticking all the right elements of services this particular target requires.
Thirdly, a company that repositions itself should use marketing strategies to rate awareness within new target-audience. In the case of Virgin Australia, online teaser as well as television, magazine, bus shelter and press all contributed to build the awareness and excitement of the new services to be offered by Virgin. Finally, a company should reposition their brand mainly when there is a real danger to the company because repositioning is very risky. Failure of reposition can not only be unsuccessful but also cause a great deal of damage to the original brand.
It is definitely a better idea not to reposition a brand when it dominates the market but in certain case such as Virgin it is inevitable. Emotional appeal & rational appeal We now look at Virgin advertisement’s effort to try to appeal to the consumers. Advertisement can create appeal in 2 ways; emotional appeal and rational appeal. In order to stimulate positive emotions such as love, friendship, Joy or beauty, the brand needs to create the right atmosphere in the delivery of their message related to the brand or the company. Every details are important; setting, tone, color scheme, lighting, etc.
On the other hand, emotional appeal can be accomplished through fear using negative emotions such as guilt, fear, empathy, etc. Highlighting the negative consequences that will result if people are not using a certain product is a negative way of stimulating. Emotional appeal strategies are used in advertising campaign for apparel, cosmetics, household goods, Airline companies or in shorter term, pretty much everywhere! Messages, music and implicit elements such as language, gestures, Tactual expression Ana vernal or non-verbal cues are all uses In tens type AT advertisement strategy.
How to appeal to consumers can although greatly fluctuate across different countries and cultures. Virgin is an international company and has invested a great deal of time in forming ads that will both convey a consistent message with the Virgin group image but that will also appeal to a certain market within a certain country or culture. When looking at their advertisement campaign within different countries, it is easy to notice different tone and different emotional appeal. As an example Virgin Pacific campaign has much more sexual references than Virgin Australia who seems to focus on peace of mind and comfortableness.
That might be in part due to Virgin Australia repositioning and its effort to appeal more to business class. Virgin’s appeal approach has significantly changed through the years. Very early on, they used to mainly advertise their product by rational appeal. This type of appeal focuses on proving the product’s usefulness to consumers. It includes promoting the product by stating the product’s benefit, performance, quality, value, convenience or affordability. It highlights all the functional advantages of using or buying the product by giving fact or even statistics and help assist the consumer in its decision- making process.
Messages should convey features and benefits of the product and he specific information that convey scientific fact or a clear understanding of what they get for what they pay. If we take Virgin Blue’s marketing strategy as an example through its last 13 years of advertisement we notice that they used both emotional and rational appeal. As I mentioned before, very early on, the company used more rational appeal. In the case of Virgin Blue, their advertisement during 2000 to 2003 focused more on the price of their products as well as their attributes using message such as “we are assembled the best”.
Those advertisements have very concise and Lear message that refers to prove the brand’s quality. However, from 2003 to 2006 we can notice a change in Virgin Blue’s growing use of emotional appeal; “If only you got virgin blue service everywhere”, this message was always showed on the virgin’s commercial during that time. They also start using exciting music and highlight situations that show how Virgin Blue is convenient but also fun. After 2006, when blue room is launched, the advertisement is changed too. Their slogan is “Where great ideas fly’ and “New premium economy’.
To appeal to consumers, Virgin Blue uses both emotional and rational appeal. They show how great their services are but also nice-looking flight attendant, sophisticated design and the use of young and trendy music within their ads to create emotions. Brand equity Brand equity is connected to a brand name or symbol attached to a product or service. The brand equity is divided in 4 parts, which consist of; brand awareness, brand associations, perceived quality and brand loyalty. These four elements form the basis for the brand development, management and measurement.
Brand awareness is how aware consumers are about a certain product or service provided y a company. The advantage of high brand awareness is that it is easier to make Drank collocations, It also Increases ten Telling AT certainty Ana Admiralty. Brand awareness is the most important element of brand equity. First, brand awareness is divided in 2 parts; brand recognition and brand recall. Brand recognition is the ability to recognize the product by its attribute and brand recall is the ability of consumer to remember the brand when the purchase situation of the products arises.
To increase brand awareness, frequent exposure to products is a very effective tactic. For that reason Virgin Blue have used astronomical sum into advertisement. Not only television advertisement but also magazine, sponsorship, Internet, involvement in “green causes”, to only name a few, is used to increase brand awareness. Consistency in these advertisements is also a great factor to consider when doing this type of marketing. In order for consumers to become aware of Virgin Blue and its attribute, the messages need to be clear and consistent throughout its airline company but also throughout Virgin group as a whole.
Secondly, brand associations are brands customers will associate with a retain product. Your product’s attributes, such as organization image and brand personality, logotype and the like is what becomes really meaningful and important because it represent the organization. Therefore, most of these associations of brand can only persist and be viable if the company create and maintain a variety of programs that will aim to remind consumer of their existence. Brand has many associations and all of them have different power.
For example Virgin Blue’s service associations group are stewardess, blanket, video services and money associations group are membership and mileage. The advantages in increasing brand associations are; it is a good motivation factor to buy products, helpful when the company want to extend its brand and it also generates positive attitude and feeling towards product. If we refer back to Virgin Mobile I-J or even Virgin Australia Business class, both have had an easier entry into their respective market due to brand association with already existing Virgin products and services.
Virgin groups always deliver, through their advertisement, messages relating to convenience and good services. Their slogans, which we have talked about before, supports their racketing strategy; “If, only you got virgin blue service everywhere”, “Where great ideas fly’. So what the company is trying to do is to associate convenience with Virgin Blue. The third component to brand equity is perceived quality and relates to consumer’s awareness and perception of the quality level of a brand. Perceived quality affect the image of the brand and has an impact on profitability.
Psychological concepts are closely related to how the quality is perceived. Psychological attribute of the products or services are associated with emotional or affective benefits such as convenience, pleasure or fun, superiority, etc. The total value of perceived quality and psychological attribute qualities give the tone to the positioning marketing mix and can be used as a mean of connection. The advantage of increased perceived quality act as a basis of positioning and differentiation from competitors, help create a price premium and is also helpful to brand extension.
Since perceived quality is important, Virgin advertise their product as the “best” in the market for consumers out also leavers to tense standards. A proto AT tens Is ten Vulgar America Lorene which, according to the 2013 Airline Quality Rating report, an annual study of airline reference, is the highest-quality major airline in the United States(Late,2013). Fourth, brand loyalty is a positive mindset toward a brand that leads to repeated purchase of the brand. It is an essential element of brand equity because a large number of loyal customers form a customer base, strengthen the image and generate profit.
It also save large marketing cost and it increases the incentive of new consumers to try the product due to WHOM. Company can know how strong their brand loyalty is by looking at refund rate, involvement, how customer are satisfied with the products, etc. The are two main approaches to brand loyalty; behavioral and cognitive approach. The behavioral approach states that constant purchasing of one brand over time is an indicator of brand loyalty. The second approach in the marketing literature is cognitive approach to brand loyalty in which the advocates argue that behavior solely does not reflect brand loyalty.
According to You(2000), brand loyalty has the power to impact on customer decision to purchase the same product or brand and decline to shift to competitors’ brands. As a result, You (2000) concludes that brand loyalty is the core of brand’s value. For the long term success of a company, brand loyalty is considerably important. Virgin is famous at doing special event or using innovative marketing techniques to strengthen brand loyalty. As well as having two approaches to bran loyalty, there also are three levels of engagement; recognition, preference and insistence.
The recognition level is a sort of attentiveness to the brand, consumers know it is a viable alternative to purchase. On the second level, the brand loyalty is a little stronger and customer’s first choice would be that brand but if unavailable will settle for alternative brands. On the third and last level, customers will insist on buying the brand and won’t accept any substitute. They are usually very engaged with the brand at this level and have deep emotional or cognitive attach to the brand. In virgin’s case brand loyalty is extremely important because of its large array of product and services.
A customer that is loyal to the brand might be more inclined to buy from Virgin every time the occasion present itself; holidays, phone plans, financial services, etc. To gain brand loyalty, Virgin uses many incentives with its customers such as; fidelity card, flying club loyalty program, credit cards but also organizes special events and get involved in causes that reflect the brand image. These marketing efforts provide more value for the customers and increase satisfaction and confidence in the brand.
Conclusion The Virgin brand is definitely one of the strongest brand of our era. The vision of one man, Sir Richard Brannon, has changed the way we market to consumers. Some of his techniques are so innovative and out of the norm that it is very hard to find any theories that could exactly describe how the company is so successful. The Virgin group is a great example of a strong brand personality and identity. The great use of 4 out of 5 brand dimensions has given the company many personality traits that can attract a large array of consumers.
Their brand repositioning Tanat we nave analyzed, more so In ten Australian market, NAS Eden a great success due to a clear idea and a great execution that has enhanced the brand image and has created an additional target market with high purchasing power. Their advertisement appeals has transformed over time and is now both cognitive and behavioral, which also expand their reach of consumers because not everyone respond to these 2 different approach separately. Their approach to brand awareness, brand associations, perceived quality and brand loyalty also give them very strong brand equity and is a big key to their success.