Sir Richard Branson has been demonstrating the power of a single brand the past 20 years. Virgin Group is one of the most popular brands of this century, counting more than 400 independent companies all over the globe. The key to Virgin Group’s success is the fact that Branson was willing to take risks n order to expand the business, and putting the Virgin logo on everything and anything that will make profits.
Recently, Branson has announced that Virgin will expand its business to purified water solutions, a new branch of the Virgin Group called Virgin Pure. This is a partnership with Izraeli-based company for drinking water solutions, Strauss Group, that will be incorporated with Virgin Pure from now on.
Even before, Branson stated that he is highly dedicated to products that improve everyday life. This time he pretty much repeated the same. “I love businesses that help to improve our way of life,” he said. “Pure, chilled and boiling drinking water at the touch of a button means no more lugging bottles home, waiting for filter jugs to trickle through or kettles to boil for that great cup of tea.”
As a great entrepreneur, Branson is well known for his ability to “sell ice to eskimos”. However, in a really specific British market of 60 million people, it will not be easy to sell this product especially because there are so many purified water companies, as well as jug filters. Target audience for this particular product that Virgin Pure is focusing on is around 10 million people. The only way for Virgin to make money from this is to target specifically this audience and to make them “convert” from filter jugs and bottled water to use Virgin Pure products.
According to Virgin Pure, ”there are currently 20% of UK households choose bottled water as their primary source of drinking water and another 20% use filter jugs. This represents 10 million British households who already drink bottled or treated water over standard tap water. With this market potential of over 10 million British households, the new partnership offers the best solution for people who are looking for a convenient hot and cold water solution.”
This system is not really cost-efficient either. According to Virgin Pure website, every water-filtering machine will include a filter that has to be changed every 6 months, costing more than $500 for each filter. That is $1000 worth of filters per year, and in this economy we live in today, that is a lot of money. It is hard to predict how will a single brand affect the market, but in this particular case it is easy to say that if Virgin Pure shows up to be a success, it will be only because of the size of the Virgin Group and the amount of business they have worldwide. Even if it doesn’t succeed, it will not affect the Virgin Group whatsoever, due to its size and billions of dollars of revenue it brings every year. But kudos for Mr. Branson for messing around with brands, as that is one of the luxuries he can most certainly afford.