Warby Parker -- Did it Change Marketing?
Are Business Models Like Warby Parker Sustainable?
Warby Parker changed the world of marketing by marketing their eyeglasses and other products mainly over the internet and using social media and digital marketing to get their products out to the public. Over a decade later the company is still around.
The year was 2010 and 4 classmates of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania had the novel idea to get glasses to customers in a different way. They wanted cheaper, easier, and the most user friendly way possible. Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, David Gilboa, and Jeffrey Raider had $2,500 in cash and some other seed money to start the store. They started selling prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses over the internet.
Could They Change Decades Old Concept?
People had always been used to going to the eye doctor, getting their prescriptions and paying high dollars for the glasses offered there. They knew the frames and lenses were overpriced and wanted to pass these savings along to customers. How would they change people's minds and get them to trust a new company and a new way of getting glasses?
There were many questions. How would consumers get frames, get them fitted, see themselves in the new frames and what if they didn't like them? Warby Parker had easy answers for these, but they were untested. They took to storm social media with posts, advertising, videos and other efforts to get people to try. They knew they had a quality concept.
The classmates offered people to pick 5 pairs of glasses to be shipped to them they could pick a pair and ship the ones they didn't want back for free. It cost the customers nothing. They started using social media as a stepping stone to answer customer service and professional advice on their products and company. They were taking business marketing to a new level on social media.
New Concept Took Off for Warby Parker
The way the internet was changing, and business in general, this method was bound to take off and they were determined to make it happen. The program was so successful other companies have turned to the same concept. Dollar Shave Club, Casper, and Harry's Razors were three of the first companies to follow Warby Parker.
The question has always been is it sustainable? Parker has already sold over 500,000 pairs of glasses at the time of this study. No one knew if people would continue to buy from these places. No matter the quality. Sometimes people can't wait on glasses or any product that uses this concept.
These companies became so successful that larger companies started shelling out big companies to buy them up, or sales fell so low they had to open storefronts or get featured in places like Walmart and Target. Warby Parker moved to opening some storefronts and other stores and being snapped up for large sums of money. The kicker is they are still using their names and people don't know they are part of conglomerates now.
Warby Parker has, so far, been able to stay independent. But will they have to go the way of Dollar Shave Club and others and get bought up by Gillette, Schick, etc? Eyeglasses are only needed once every couple of years for most people.
The Right Marketing Concepts were Used
I think Warby Parker used the right marketing concepts to grow their company. They have grown and show to be successful. I think they will be around for years to come with a few tweaks. I have never used them, but do have family members who do. They love them. So do hundreds of thousands of other people.
Only time will tell if business models like this are sustainable or if internet and social media changes so quickly that the concepts have to be changed quickly for marketing and business to consumer transactions.
Mahoney L. M., & Tang T. (2016). Strategic Social Media: From Marketing to Social Change. [MBS Direct]. Retrieved from https://mbsdirect.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781118556900/