Top Trends in Eyecare Practice Marketing

Brainstorming a unique marketing plan is a daunting task. Marketers frequently find themselves evaluating competitor efforts and saying, "Why didn't I think of that?" However, with the right marketing team, your competitors may soon be saying this about you!

Warby Parker, a supplier of frames and eyeglasses, knows a thing or two about marketing. While preparing a speech on optical industry trends, Cathy from The Optical Vision Site, realized how Warby Parker used consumer trends to market their products. She explains how easy it is to apply these top trends in eyecare practice marketing at your practice!

Tunnel Vision vs. Warby Parker

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to speak on optical industry trends at a meeting in Denver. In preparation for the meeting it really struck me Warby_Parker_Readery_Standard-Hotelhow Warby Parker embraced consumer trends to become the 'media darlings' of today. While musing over this, I also realized that every single thing they did, the eyecare professional could have done too.

There is NOT one thing they did, that was so unusual, so unique, so cutting edge. IN FACT the only thing they did NOT have was Tunnel Vision. IN FACT- if you read our annual Consumer Trends And How They Effect Eyecare for the last several years, you could have implemented any of the below way before Warby Parker did. (Yes, I know, Shameless Plug).

Let's look at Warby Parker:

1.) They launched in 2010. (See our story here in April of 2010) A couple of young non-optical guys decided to go after the big guys (Luxottica) and freely admitted that they did so. The campaign was good vs bad, David vs Goliath, big vs small. All of that created what you would call an 'eye-worthy, news-worthy' event. Appealed to the counter-culture mentality. You can do the exact same thing check out Eyes On Fremont.

2.) They focused on PR and targeted that 18-30 year old 'social media' junkies to spread the world via Social Media. That group, tweeted, Facebooked, YouTubed, and bought $95 frames and lenses. What happened.. all that FREE publicity by Kids was brought to the attention of the 'biggies' i.e Forbes, USA Today, NY Times, LA times etc.. and then they, WP, became the buzzword of the year 2010, 2011, 2012, and still in 2013. You can do that too.

3.) Product- Because of their target market, young 'hip' consumers, their product development was very small and specific- not alot of styles, but Warby-parker-do-goodthey were 'cool and trendy', they added color and a few interest pieces such as monocles (We blogged on this in 2009 because it is a big trend among young men). You can do that too and you can stock monocles and other interesting pieces.

4.) Knowing their target market, they knew that these kids 'SHARE,' so they utilized Try-On Technology (you have this available too), and kids are all sharing their pictures, and asking what their friends think. Due to Try On Technology, it increased the virality and customer referrals. They were NOT the first to employ try on technology, other online companies have been using this for years, but Warby Parker made it 'cool.' You Can Do That Too, Try on Technology online has been available for OVER 10 years, but the big push online has been within the last 5 years, way before Warby Parker.

5.) They made it cool, hip, fun, and easy. Yep, take a picture, order 5 frames, and you can send them back anytime... Very easy to deal with. You Can Do This Too. Be Fun and Engaging. Listen to this story;

'She went on about the fact that the shipping was free, the returns were free, they donate a pair to someone in need, and if you have any issues with the glasses they are eager to help. When my friend received her glasses, they were a little tight at her ears; in turn, she emailed Warby Parker and asked for advice. They told her to either come down to the showroom for help, or go to an optometrist — and send them the bill. She was so impressed she told everyone about it.' (Source Forbes Magazine, The Referral Effect)

6.) BUT in order to get the press, they needed a hook- and one of the biggest consumer trends in the market today is Social Responsibility (we have been blogging about this since 2009). Without that hook, that mission, they would have just been another online company with a funny name. That said, looking at a socially responsible innovator Toms Shoes' one for one give back program (who gets a lot of press)- well, why not apply that to eyewear? It worked, and with that type of campaign, giving back is a guaranteed- no-brainer -word of mouth buzz.

Warby Parker, while not the first to offer a one for one program, they were the first in the eyewear business. You can do this too, especially now, with companies such as MODO's one for one, 141 Eyewear, Shauns Shades, Adlens, Eyes of Faith Eyewear, Modern Optical, and soon Toms Glasses will be offered to eyecare professionals. Even supporting eyewear companies that give back in some way. (See our post on Philanthropic Eyecare- Retail Trends and 11 Charitable Events) monocle-optical-men-face

7.) They didn't get stale.. Yep, they needed that press over and over again to constantly re-create the awareness. So now what? They continued to re-invent themselves. They opened kiosks in hotels (2012), they opened up Yurt POP Up Stores (Yep, we blogged on this in December of 2010 and again in May of 2011). Each of these just restarted the buzz! You can do this too.

8.) Then they syngerized realizing the power of 1+1= 5 and started collaborative efforts with other names. We have been blogging on collaborative efforts for years. But Warby Parker started collaborating with Suno (2911) for Limited Edition Eyewear (we blogged on Eyewear Trends:Limited Edition in 2010) and note, that Tom Glasses is also in collaboration with Charity Water.

You can do the same thing by networking with other local businesses and various charities. Anyone can do a collaboration, it doesn't have to be with a vision charity, it can be with anyone. See Destination Eyecare (yep we blogged on this in 2010).

They introduced a Waldo Eyeglass to celebrate Waldo's 25 Birthday. You could have done the same thing just by stocking a bunch of round frames and offering "Waldo Wednesday's". There are tons of interesting characters wearing eyewear that you could be celebrating as well.

9.) They bragged about their 'Do Good' Mission, getting even more press, Warby Parker gives 30,000 eyeglasses to New Eyes For The Needy. Personally, I love their Annual Report (you should check this out) and their fun facts on employees, all the social good, it makes one feel really connected to them. Guess What.. You can do that too.blackboard_about

10.) The press and the customers kept coming and coming, so what else did they do to recreate the buzz? Launched the Warby Parker Class Trip. A bus trip to select cities to sell and blog about their product. Really, how hard would this be, take an RV to to a destination spot and sell sunglasses or eyewear? No eye exams, no retinal testing, just eyeglasses? I will say it again, You Can Do This Too.

11. ) Opened their first flagship store in Soho when they realized that the consumer wants to touch and feel the product (see review). Offering eye exams ($50) and eyewear. You have already done this.

Bottom Line- If you look at every thing that Warby Parker did and does, you can do the exact same thing. Isn't it time to get over Tunnel Vision?


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