By Rajan Yadav
Founded in 2010, Warby Parker has disrupted the premium eyewear industry, a $13B segment of the $36B global frames and sunglasses market. One conglomerate — Luxottica — dominates the segment, with ~$8.5B of annual revenue at a 20% operating margin, and control of many of the world’s major eyewear brands, including Lenscrafters, Sunglass Hut, Ray-Ban, and Oakley. Yet Warby Parker has been able to carve out as a low cost, high fashion competitor with a $1.2B valuation — and its innovative operating model has been one of the keys to its success.
Firstly, the price model of Warby Parker disturbed the eyewear market, which was being dominated by the overlord of eyewear, Luxottica. Luxottica owns an array of brands like Oakley and Ray-Ban and their retail banners include the likes of LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, and Sunglass Hut. Warby Parker recognized that Luxottica was employing a skimming strategy, keeping prices (and margins) artificially high. Warby Parker’s philosophy: Fashionable glasses don’t need to cost hundreds of dollars. At an entry price point of $95, Warby enabled fashion-conscious consumers to purchase designer glasses at a fraction of the price of designer alternatives.
Furthermore, Warby Park operates as an online retailer, selling prescription glasses and sunglasses increasing its accessibility and flexibility, making customer’s easy to navigate, and offering an at-home service that allows customers to have several frames delivered so that they can try them on at their leisure. It tends to attract younger, less affluent, but more tech-savvy customers, who are more attuned to making online purchases and typically cannot afford expensive designer frames. But physical stores also play an important role in building awareness for brands. A store in the mall or on the main street is an effective marketing tool and keeps the brand relevant and conveys a sense of confidence and financial well-being to the consumer. This strategy bypassed retailers, the middleman that would markup lenses 3–5x what they cost, transferring all of that cost directly to consumers and save them money.
Moreover, the social mission is one of the best company’s strategies. For every pair of glasses sold, Warby Parker ensures a pair is distributed to one of the one billion people worldwide who lack access to glasses. When they buy a pair of glasses, consumers are told they’ll also be donating a pair of glasses to someone in need. So in effect, the Warby Parker pitch is this: Buy a pair of our designer glasses at a fraction of the competition’s price, and you’ll also improve the life of someone in need. On top of that, the company has been certified by as a B Corp and it purchases carbon credits to offset any pollution created during the manufacturing process, making Warby Parker a certifiable choice for the eco-friendly, socially-conscious consumer.
Besides, Warby Parker uses a high data-driven strategy. The team is expected to report any issues that arise during customer interactions (e.g., prescription mistakes, product defects, shipping issues, etc.). The team also includes liaisons to different functions, such as supply chain, product, copy and content, and billing, which helps customer service representatives quickly address concerns requiring input from other departments.
Additionally, the company’s customer-facing policies and social media presence make the shopping experience easier and more fun. The company offers a home try-on program in which a shopper can request 5 frames, then keep them for 5 days before returning them — all for free, shipping included. If the customer is having trouble deciding, she/he can actually call a Warby Parker “personal stylist” and ask for help. The company offers free returns (within 30 days) and will even reimburse customers if they need to get their frames adjusted. The company responds to all tweets from customers. Then if a question posed by a customer is too complicated to be answered within a tweet, Warby Parker creates a short video with an answer to the question and sends a tweet with the link to the video on YouTube. Warby Parker has published more than 2,000 of these videos. Customers are also able to interact directly with Warby Parker through its social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. Combined all the strategies made Warby Parker was called the Netflix of eyewear.
The article is written for 180 Degrees Consulting, Delhi Technological University, under the campaign #MarketingForACause. To read more content shared by our other consultants, please check out our LinkedIn page- https://www.linkedin.com/company/180dc-dtu