I wear contacts and on occasion, glasses. I’ve worn some form of corrective lenses since I was a child. Of all the things I remember most about those yearly visits, it isn’t the eye drops that make it so you can’t see anything, the blinding light in your eyes as the doctor checks your pupils, or the funny-looking paper sunglasses you get to wear after. What sticks out to me is the hunt for the perfect frame. What looks best? Big square? Sleek rectangle? Retro Round? Wire rim? There are so many choices. And it doesn’t stop there. Picking the frame is just the first step, as you have to ensure the frame can hold the lenses. If not, you go back to the drawing board.
Warby Parker changed all that. Instead of focusing on showrooms to sell frames, they utilized online distribution directly to the consumer. If we have learned anything over the years, it is to question everything we purchase online. What kind of quality item will be received as they can’t be tried on beforehand? Are eyeglasses too important to buy online? Warby Parker didn’t allow these obstacles to deter them.
They “developed a ‘Home Try-On Campaign’ where consumers are able to order five pairs of glasses online, which are shipped to the customer’s home to try on at no charge” (Mahoney & Tang, 2017). To aid with this alternative business model, they turned to social media. They connect to consumers with regular communication and participation, the best kind of advertising available. Whenever I go to the doctor’s office to pick out glasses, I always look at myself in the mirror and often take a picture. Sometimes, I’m just unsure so I send the picture to a friend or two and get their opinion.
Warby Parker took something that we already do and expanded on it. They encouraged customers to share photographs of themselves in frames. This allows new consumers to see not only what is being offered, but satisfied customers. A good review like this will spread easily as these customers aren’t just sharing their photo with Warby Parker, but on their own social media platforms as well. So, it isn’t the company spreading the word, but a reliable source—you, your friends, their friends, and so on.
Now, Warby Parker still uses traditional advertising methods, like T.V. commercials. In fact, earlier today I saw their commercial where the customer can virtually try-on glasses. There are a few problems I’ve noticed with this. One, it is a wide audience reach. Two, it does not reference its limitations. Three, this virtual-app only works on iPhone. While number three doesn’t apply in all traditional methods, the first two reasons do.
This commercial is a one-way exchange. No response is being received by the customer and Warby Parker isn’t commenting in return as they do on social media. On their social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), when photographs are posted, they comment and initiate conversations with their consumers gaining further insight into their wants and needs. Plus, they share useful information and “offer expert advice on eyeglasses” (Mahoney & Tang, 2017). Not only that, but for every pair of Warby Parker glasses purchased, they give a pair away for free to a person in need.
They haven’t just reduced the risk associated with an online purchase, validated their brand, prompted the sharing of positive experiences, but they also show they are socially conscience too. By sharing all of this across their social media platforms, they constantly draw new consumers in and maintain repeat customers. Simply put, they reach the customer where they are and speak to what the customer needs.
Mahoney, L.M & Tang, T. (2017). Strategic Social Media: From marketing to social change. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.