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Warby Parker – A Company with “Vision”

Written by Chris


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Warby Parker was founded by a group of classmates from the Wharton School of Univ. Of Pennsylvania. After one of the founders lost his eyeglasses on a plane and had to go through the painful process of purchasing another pair of eyeglasses, due to high cost and time-consuming doctors visits and fittings, he and the other founders set out to disrupt the traditional marketplace. Their focus would be to design the eyewear and distribute it online selling direct to consumers. This is a brilliant strategy because it would allow for lower overhead, ultimately resulting in lower prices for the purchaser not to mention convenience. That’s sounds great, but one of the biggest challenges they faced by consumers was the perception and question doesn’t lower prices mean lower quality? Changing the perception and behavior of people that had traditionally been going the in-person route was no easy task. But this group was up for the challenge! Learn more about this amazing company here.

Initially their target audience may have felt great dissonance so rather than using traditional media which would not have allowed them to engage in social listening, they opted to use a Web 2.0 approach utilizing social media which allowed them to get valuable feedback and organic promotions from current and potential customers. Had they opted to go the traditional media route Web 1.0, they would not have gained the momentum they did with their campaign. How so? Well they launched a Home Try On Campaign which allowed customers to order five pairs of eyeglasses and then return the ones they didn’t like at no charge. Oh yes, the most important part of their strategy – encouragement of user-generated content on social media! They started to create YouTube videos to give expert advice and encouraged users to create their own content by posting pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They also encouraged customers to share pictures of themselves wearing their purchases on social media amongst their community and engage in two-way communication with the company which creates trust and brand loyalty. Remarkably those who do so, end up buying 2x’s the amount of those who didn’t. This essentially disrupted the marketplace and ultimately implementing the Social Learning Theory paid off. By encouraging customers to promote that they were using the product via sharing, the customers had no idea that their influence over their social media circle was a huge advantage for Warby Parker rather than using actors or actresses which I’m sure they knew going into this strategy. Sometimes I wonder if consumers are aware of all the strategies marketers put into effect because it seems so obvious to me or is it that I’m in the field and more aware of the tactics? It’s interesting to watch people interact on social media, often times they are organically promoting a product without even knowing it on their feed using a hashtag or posting a selfie with a product.

I’m sure throughout the article, you have been wondering where the company name, Warby Parker, came from – So was I, so I looked it up! The name Warby Parker interestingly enough was named after two characters named Warby Pepper and Zagg Parker made up by the novelist Jack Kerouac. The author motivated the founders by indicating they should break free from the shackles of social pressure and commence on their adventure. Rumor has it the owners looked at in upwards of 2,000 other names but after testing them out with students at their business school, this company name stuck due to its individuality and fresh start having no affiliation.

I saved the best for last – Warby Parker teamed up with VisionSpring to distribute glasses to those in need. For every pair purchased, the company would donate a pair. To date, they have given away over 500,000 pairs… pretty cool!