Warby Parker disruptive marketing methodology
Understanding consumer preferences and cultivating relationships by listening and appealing to special consumer interest is critical in building brand equity and affiliation. Warby Parker is a classic example of a business that explored consumer preferences and adopted a consumer-centric approach that delivers more value for less by reducing prescription eyewear prices without compromising quality, consequently disrupting the eyewear industry.
Established in 2010 by four Wharton MBA graduates, Warby Parker was created as an alternative to major eyewear brands with an expensive product price line. Consequently, the sole aim was to disrupt the market by providing solutions to the conundrum of expensive and lack of fashionable prescription glasses. Warby Parker strategically inculcated a social cause as part of its overall business plan, which helped built a community of loyal consumers around its brand. Through the “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program”, the company affirms it has distributed over five million pairs of glasses to those in need in more than 50 countries worldwide.
Warby Parker appealed to more consumers through its social cause and adopted a consumer-centric business model that focused on addressing multiple industry concerns, especially price, distribution, and quality. Additionally, circumventing traditional retail and distribution channels, designing glasses in-house and directly engaging with consumers across multiple social media sites allowed Warby Parker to provide premium quality, fashionable prescription eyewear that is affordable and accessible.
Understanding consumer preferences was critical in building a flourishing online community with similar interests, especially amongst millennials. That recognition fostered brand-driven relationships, which were instrumental in positioning Warby Parker as a major industry competitor. One notable innovation was its virtual try-on and home try-on campaign, allowed consumers to try five pairs of glasses before making a purchase or return for free if displeased. The try-on campaign, free shipping, and impeccable return policy attracted thousands if not millions of new consumers who would otherwise not order prescription glasses online; and presented consumers with convenience, developed brand trust, and peace of mind.
The role of social media to the Warby Parkers’ success
The evolution of the internet in the last decade is the catalyst that drives social networking sites. Through this innovation, businesses can engage directly with the target audience, and this unimpaired access to consumers has stimulated notable disruption across industries. Both organic and paid social media marketing can be attributed to the intense competition experienced globally. As a result, businesses must offer more than unique product features and be more innovative than ever before to stand out and drive sufficient traffic.
Warby Parker circumvented celebrities’ use to push its products, and instead utilized compelling ads and actual consumer testimonials shared across multiple social networking sites to promote its products. This unusual but innovative marketing strategy mirrored word-of-mouth effectiveness, authenticated, and strengthened the relationship between consumers and the brand. Consumers were also encouraged to post pictures of their Warby Parker eyewear on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using designated hashtags for easy tracking and engagement. This tactic led to over 55,000 user-generated-content, which translated into higher sales returns for the company.
The growth of Warby Parker can be attributed to the penetration of social media and its ability to reach consumers at the right time, on the right platform, with the right content. Aside from reducing prescription eyewear costs, social media afforded the company an interrupted channel to engage consumers directly. As a result, creating a dialogue channel that ensures the company properly ascertain consumer preferences and implement strategic measures that satisfy those needs.
Venturing into Brick & Mortar
Although created as a complete e-commerce business, eliminating intermediary and the costs associated with running traditional channels enabled the company to provide prescription glasses at half the market value, starting at $90 a pair. Today, Warby Parker has expanded beyond e-commerce and now operates more than 55 retail stores across 15 cities throughout the United States. These retail outlets have helped Warby Parker increase its services to include optometry exams, satisfy consumers who relish interacting with the product personally, and cross-functionally boosting online and offline traffic and sales in the process.
The company considers adding traditional retail stores to its e-commerce offerings as a natural progression. According to David Gilboa, what we found from having both an online and offline buying experience is that people are not choosing one channel over the other, because Over 75% of consumers from the retail store have visited the Warby Parker website first. To satisfy consumers’ need for convenience, the company has invested heavily in technology to make the online and offline experience seamless.
Warby Parker is a brand that has successfully disrupted the eyewear industry and continues to innovate and satisfy consumers’ needs, both online and offline. The company’s ability to lower prescription eyewear prices without compromising quality was significant to its overall growth. Social media was instrumental in engaging consumers and served as a dialogue channel for the company. Also, branching out its e-commerce operations to include traditional retail outlets characterizes Warby Parker as a flexible institution willing to adjust according to the market trends and prioritize consumer satisfaction. Armed with a desire to provide the best products at an affordable price, Warby Parker will continue to provide exceptional customer experience, both online and in-person, through affordability, action, and advocacy.