Monday, November 2, 2009

Business stripped bare

This book is Richard Branson’s latest eye opener into the world of Virgin. The one man publicity machine takes the reader on a tour of his business philosophy and how the philosophy actually works in the realms of the Virgin empire.

I am a fan of Branson and the Virgin empire, for the most part because the company seems to bring competition to formerly uncompetitive markets. Virgin Blue is a classic case study – it revolutionised air travel in Australia. The budget carriers in Europe had already been vigorously competing for some years, and it was only a matter of time before the same thing happened down under. But without Virgin, would we have waited another 5-10 years for air travel competition?

Virgin is already in the mobile phone market worldwide, with India a growth area for them. Their entry to this market was launched on the back of simple pre-paid phones with simple prices. I have mentioned before how the complexity of phone and internet plans only benefits the supplier, and it seems that Virgin’s move into the mobile phone market was pinned on price competition rather than price confusion.

They are even moving into financial services and banking.

Richard tells how the Virgin group is now in the business of ‘branded venture capital’. They look to team up with emerging players and offer not only funding, but the goodwill of the brand to go with it. It works for them, but has the major risk that all businesses are exposed to the reputation of the brand. Some bad publicity could take a real toll.

But I’ve been thinking. What other industries need a shake up? I have a shortlist:

1.  Real estate agents – no price competition there. Somehow the industry acts as a cartel, setting commissions at the maximum legal amount. Maybe their slogan could be “Great service – even if it’s not your fist time”.

2.  Supermarkets – the entry of Aldi to the market was significant. But there is still plenty of room for a new entrant here.

Any other ideas?

1 comment:

  1. There are some real estate agencies now that will charge ~$600 for listing on the web & handling contracts - better than $20k+

    3. Councils...???