Warby Parker (Warby) is an interesting case study in how to circumvent people’s innate ability to avoid change. In 2010 students at Warton School at University of Pennsylvania decided to flip the eyeglasses market on its head. They weren’t satisfied with the status quo of going into storefronts trying on glasses, getting eye appointments, getting appointments with doctors, and all the other long arduous boring steps that go along for this process. Let’s be honest here, people just want to get their damn glasses and be on their merry way. The world keeps advancing with new technologies and new opportunities, but at the same time, it feels like things are becoming harder and harder to manage. Why can’t basic things just be simple, and to the point? Why do you need to follow of checklist of appointments, which could take weeks or months? Want to read that book, or DRIVE?! It should be simple, so you can continue to live your life comfortably with no road blocks in your way. Not only that, but why are eyeglasses so expensive? You could buy a TV, or a tablet for the same amount of money. That is absolutely ludicrous. Eyeglasses have been around since basically the dawn of time, obviously they’re more advanced now, but there is no reason why the prices still remain so high. I shouldn’t have to decide on spending hundreds on glasses, or maybe deciding to use two glass bottoms of Snapple bottles so I can see.
Warby decided to skip all the paperwork, the long processes and sell directly to their customers. Its all done through online distribution. No showrooms, or other outside forces dictate their product. They were able to sell directly to their customers, which cut out all the middlemen and dropping the price of the eyeglasses.
However, there was some pushback. Eyeglasses of course are an important purchase. People were skeptical about purchasing eyeglasses online. Eyeglasses enhance people’s lives every day, so people felt that important life decisions like this shouldn’t be left to a simple click on the internet. It felt too easy. The prices felt too low. People were asking themselves; “Why are these so cheap? Is the quality low? Do they even work?” Obviously, this was a hard hurdle to get over, but Warby was up to the challenge. Warby needed to first understand human behavior and the habits they have. Then they needed to craft a message and platform that allowed for a behavior change that could disrupt the industry.
People are creatures of habit and they shuffle through their lives. They were used to the old process of buying eyeglasses; Driving all over the place and then waiting to get their eyeglasses after the exams, the in-store visit, etc. This process has been going on for decades so It’s hard to disrupt and change the old ways. Warby created a “Home Try-On Campaign.” They would allow customers to order 5 different pairs of glasses, which are then shipped to them, and to try on. They pick their favorite and send back the rest at no cost to them. This helped to mitigate the dissonance with their consumers. It was putting the power of choice, and customization in their hands. They realized that people were skeptical so it was important to give people the options and freedom to choose to make them more comfortable with the purchase.
Warby takes full advantage of social media to help promote its business, and also make their customers feel comfortable and in power as mentioned above. This is important because it makes the process of buying eyeglasses personal and fun! Their website alone has dozens if not hundreds of varieties and colors so people can really pick glasses based on choice and personality. They actively encourage people to post pictures of themselves on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, you name it. This creates the most important thing in the new digital age, a community. People are more open to change, more comfortable reaching out to complete strangers if they feel they are apart of something bigger. They have more confidence knowing there are people out there in the same position. Warby also uses YouTube to post fun, and instructional videos online and encourages its customers to do the same. This is very important within social media. Customers have been posting pictures of themselves all over the internet with each other which in turn creates word of mouth advertising for Warby. You can find pictures of customers with their product on social media with their family, enjoying vacations, birthday parties, in exotic locations, you name it! Warby is also very involved within the community. They remain transparent about everything. They’re constantly reaching out to customers asking about their experiences, and responding to comments. This direct communication style builds trust, and the more likely people are to recommend them to friends and family. This is especially important, because the majority of purchases from customers come recommended from people most close to them. If you have a friend or family member that has a cool, stylish pair of glasses, you’re going to ask them about it, if they hadn’t already told you.
Warby has mastered constructs needed for participation on social media;
- Social networking
- Interaction orientation
- User-added possibilities
They have built an amazing platform, they interact with its customers, allow for a personal touch, and allow the customers to share their experiences with everyone.
Instead of building a brand AROUND a social media platform, Warby simply utilized the tools as its disposal. They didn’t force their company around a social media platform but organically grew around them. This makes them come across as more sincere and not like a corporate robot. By allowing its users to create content, they gain a following, and increase their brand awareness. They are also able to throw the theory of cognitive dissonance out the window! People don’t feel discomfort for something that disrupts their everyday lives. If anything, Warby actually makes the whole eyeglass buying process simpler and easier. By making it an easier process and allowing people to comment, they’re able to change people’s behaviors. They are able to justify the change by offering more customization and personalization, allowing feedback, and creating a community around that.
Warby has created a space where both marketers and consumers can exist and grow together. Not many businesses can say they understand the benefits of social media the way Warby Parker can.