More than a Business: Warby Parker

Warby Parker is one of many millennial companies who have found success as an e-retailer. Forgoing traditional walk-in stores (at least to start off with), Warby Parker attributes their popularity not just because they bring their own trendy designs online at an affordable price, but also combine business with doing social good.

Warby Parker started off asking the right questions. Why do fashionable prescription glasses have to be expensive? How can consumers pick out glasses online? For a long time, large companies (such as Luxottica) have taken control of the eyewear industry, leaving us no choice but to buy expensive frames. Warby Parker operates outside these usual channels, bringing high-quality prescription glasses of their own design and sells them directly to the consumer. No longer are you pressured to go out to a store, and be pressured to purchase an expensive pair of glasses you can’t even show people before you buy them

One of the reasons why they appeal to younger generations of consumers is that they are enthusiastic users of social media marketing. This ranges from common social media platforms such as FacebookTwitterYouTube, to more creative ideas such as sending make-your-own-snowmen kits to customers, or trolling the internet with glasses for dogs on April Fools. Warby Parker understands the importance of social media in connecting digital millennials with their brand, as founder David Gilboa told Entrepreneur Magazine:

Think of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as critical customer service gateways and take the time to respond to each and every customer who reaches out to you there. Each comment, photo and tweet gives you an opening to directly communicate with them on a meaningful, personalized basis that encourages brand loyalty.

So why would anyone buy glasses online? Besides designer-label frames at an affordable price, they also incentivise you to do some good while you shop. While many readers can afford to improve their vision, about 1 billion people lack the money or access. That means for about 15% of the world population, they can’t learn or work to the best of their ability.  Warby Parker gives you the power to do good without even trying, through their ‘Buy a Pair, Give a Pair’ program. You are making a direct impact on these communities through a simple transaction. Buy a pair, and they donate money to a non-profit partners such as VisionSpring, so that people in developing nations can get their eyes checked AND purchase a pair of glasses at incredibly cheap prices. TOMS original ‘One for One’ model, Warby Parker’s doesn’t put eyewear companies in these areas out of business; they help others help themselves, and give glasses to people that need them.

Warby Parker are successful not only because of their products, but because of how they have engaged with their customers and the wider community. They are not only changing the industry, but through their desire to help others, are changing what it means to be a business.

Michael Fung