Marketing of Virgin Atlantic

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Individual Assignment 1: Using a company that you are familiar with, explain how factors in the external business environment influence marketing strategies and outcomes

The airline business is an industry that is competitive and unique, focussing on consumer choice and the responsiveness of airlines to changes in the external business environment. For any airline, this environment can be very complex as it is ‘hard for them to fully understand and impossible for them to fully control’ (The Times, n.d. p1). Virgin Atlantic is an international airline that is based in the UK. It was started by the entrepreneur Richard Branson in 1982 and now flies to 30 destinations around the world (Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd, 2011). By looking at
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Global airline alliances in another issue included in Virgin’s external environment. Alliances benefit airlines in many ways as they enable them more market access, convergence of technologies and even help overcome legal barriers (Anon., 2009). One weakness for Virgin therefore is not being part of an alliance such as Oneworld Alliance (Anon., 2009), in order to take full advantage of its potential Virgin should look into adjusting their market strategy and look into joining an alliance, if not form its own.

Rising fuel prices has a huge impact on the airline industry. In an article published by the New York Times in 2007, oil prices were hovering ‘near $100 a barrel’ which caused the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to ‘slash’ their predicted profits for 2008 from ‘$7.8 billion to $5 billion’ (Clark, 2007). In 2008 high fuel prices were ‘dominant factor’ in the losses that faced the industry, and continued to same effect in 2009 (Dunn, 2009). Diagram 2 shows how fuel price has increased and fallen over the last 5 years.

Diagram 2 : Fuel Price fluctuations 2007-2011(Platts, 2011 cited by CAPA, 2011)

The issue with having a deregulated market is that it is more difficult for airlines, such as Virgin, to pass on the cost of increasing fuel charges to the consumer, so only some of the impact can be passed on through fuel
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