Virgin has extended to more categories than any other company. Does it do any good for the company?
The Entrepreneur Magazine did in June 2012 a special on Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin. The article opened up with the following:
‘Fueled by frustration with the status quo, Richard Branson built his Virgin Group empire attacking verticals that had long been dominated by lumbering legacy companies. Now he’s extending his entrepreneurial philosophies to a new market that’s out of this world.’
The extension referred to is Virgin Galactic, which aims to take people and satellites into space at ‘a fraction of the price it currently costs’.
The Virgin brand started as the label for a record shop founded in the 1970s. Currently, it operates in an extreme amount of categories. Virgin uses the simple Brand + Descriptor naming structure. The below list of extensions is directly from the Virgin Group website.
Entertainment: Virgin Racing, Virgin Bet, Virgin Books, Virgin Casino, Virgin Fest, Virgin Games, Virgin Megastore, Virgin Radio, Virgin Records
Health & Wellness: Virgin Active in Australia, Italy, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and UK, Virgin Care, Virgin Pulse, Virgin Pure
Money: Virgin Money
Technology: Virgin Connect Virgin Media & Media Business, Virgin Media Ireland, Virgin Mobile Canada, Chile, Colombia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, Virgin telco
Travel & Leisure: Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Virgin Balloon Flights, Virgin Experience Days, Virgin Holidays, Virgin Hotels, Virgin Hyperloop, Virgin Limited Edition, Virgin Voyages, Virgin Wines UK, Australia, and the USA.
Space: Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit
People & Planet: Virgin Money Giving, Virgin Startup
With this enormous list of companies and categories, most people think the Virgin Empire must be doing exceptionally well. The reality is that the group reported a profit in 2019 of £60 million, up from £53 million in 2018.
Virgin proves that a healthy business with a narrowly focused brand and a dominant market share is much better than having 30+ extensions with very low market shares.