Warby Parker and my Pierre Cardin glasses

To say that I am an eyewear expert is an understatement. I have been wearing glasses since I was six. I am currently 51 years old, so you do the math. I remember my trips with my Mom to Cohen Optical and having lunch afterward at Roy Rogers. Those memories I will cherish forever. And I also can not forget having to chose the cheapest pair of glasses at the store because my mom couldn’t afford the cute, hip pair everyone was wearing and I wanted. Bless her heart, she really did try her best, she would do without to make sure I can see. When I started to make my own money, one of my first purchases was eye glasses. It took all of my summer job money to pay $539.00, yes you read right $539.00 dollars. I remember the Pierre Cardin frames’ cost because it was my first big purchase of something I thought of as a luxury not a necessity. 

I thought I was the last Coca-Cola in the desert wearing those frames and with my hair teased to high heaven. As time went by and my eyesight got worse, I dreaded going to any eyeglasses store.  It took too much of my time, and I had to wait 2-3 weeks for the complete pair of glasses.  Then the internet happened, and God created online shopping. Now at my fingertips, I can shop for everything and anything…even eyewear!                                                  

Today there are many online eyewear stores, but the one who started it all was Warby Parker. Warby Parker was created in 2010 by 4 classmates; some are actual eyeglass wearers.  Being a college student, they must have suffered the same pain as I; why are quality eyeglasses so expensive?! We were already eating ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. How can a college student on a budget afford quality eyewear?  Warby Parker’s answer was cutting out the middle man, designing glasses in-house. and selling directly to the consumers.  They not only have a wide variety of eyewear, but the cost is drastically lower than if you went into a brick-and-mortar store. 

Now some may ask how I can trust an online store to handle something so important. Trust me, I felt the same way. I am already blind as a bat, and I am putting my vision in the hands of someone I can’t even see (see what I did there.. LOL).  Warby Parker gained the trust and dollars of consumers like me with their excellent social media marketing. 

They optimized their social media efforts by creating a transactional environment with their customers instead of using more linear advertising. Through their social media account, Warby Parker encouraged consumers to communicate directly to them. There isn’t a number to call or an annoying customer service rep on the line.  Their social media accounts make consumers feel like they are really being heard.  I have been a loyal customer to them because of this factor.  They make me feel special, and I like it.

Another significant factor that Warby Parker encourages is user-generated content. Watching real people wearing Warby Parker glasses on my social media feed beats some tall, lanky model wearing glasses while running through the beach in a bikini type of tv commercial any day.  These are real people posting about Warby Parker.  People who have a story to tell and are willing to answer questions of their experience buying glasses online from Warby Parker. Warby Parker’s idea of creating a community atmosphere is excellent. It makes the consumer feel included and part of something great.

If I haven’t made you interested in Warby Parker social media marketing strategy let me tell you about their “home try-on” campaign.  Potential customers who are a bit worried about ordering eyewear through the internet for fear of not getting the product they ordered can try on frames in the comfort of their home. That’s right all you have to do is pick 5 frames that catch your fancy, and Warby Parker will mail them to you for free five day trial. Now consumers will not fear as if they are taking a risk.  Pick the one you like, submit your order online and send the five frames back on their dime! Easy as that. With the “home try-on” campaign, Warby Parker is gaining the trust of their consumers.  Another important detail that may reduce a consumers doubt is that Warby Parker is a socially conscious business.  They are partnered with VisionSpring, which allows Warby Parker to donate a pair of glasses to a  person in need for every pair they sell.  Consumers tend to be a loyal to a company who are socially conscious.

Online eyewear stores are popping up by the day, some even cheaper than Warby Parker. It will be interesting to see what they can pull out of the marketing bag of tricks to convince their customers to stay loyal to them all while trying to attract new ones.   


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