SAN FRANCISCO -- Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, London, urged retailers to think creatively and not rely too much on technology. He spoke during the annual convention of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers here this month.
"The last few years have brought us the technological means to make our industry a more exact science," he said. "There is a welcome sanity to this wonderfully precise information." Among the Virgin Group's many businesses are the Virgin Retail Group, with 122 entertainment software megastores around the world, which include music and video sales. Virgin also has a record label, an airline and a soft drink business, among others.
Branson delivered a keynote address at the NARM show, which drew about 3,000 attendees, up from 2,750 last year. In his talk, he cautioned retailers, "let's not use these tools as a crutch to stop us from thinking creatively. We need to act in an innovative way, not simply reacting to the numbers. After all, aren't we still in show business?"
"If we are going to get people out of their homes and into a retail environment, they have to be entertained," he said. Television and the Internet are providing more home-shopping opportunities, he noted. While TV viewing is down for the first time in a decade, "the twist is that the difference is more than made up for by computer games and the Internet," he said.