Warby Parker & The Success of Always Adjusting

As part of my MFA program, my social media marketing class is having us write about some really interesting case studies for our blogs. Hopefully, you learn as much about starting your own author platform as I did!

At this point, we’ve probably all heard of Warby Parker — especially if you’re someone like me, who thrives on watching YouTube video bloggers (vloggers) all day while you’re working remotely, alone in your cold basement. It’s something interesting to pass the time (I’m a huge fan of watching beauty vloggers and family channels), but more than that, it’s basically a chance to receive ad after ad…after ad. Including ads from Warby Parker, an online prescription glasses retailer. Which always faded into the background for me, as someone who was constantly receiving a barrage of advertisements from everything to glasses, to hair vitamins, to Hello Fresh. That is, until I had to do this case study.

Image credit: WarbyParker.com

I didn’t know much about Warby Parker other than the fact that they specialize in glasses. A creature of habit, I get my glasses from the same doctor’s office that I go to every September for my eye exam, braving the usual awkward chitchat with the ophthalmologist (who pretends that he actually cares what’s going on with my life or how the job hunt is shaking out). Davis Vision was the only place I ever considered getting my glasses, for several reasons: it was convenient, it was what I already knew, and most importantly for my budget, it was covered. Warby Parker was nothing more than a YouTube ad to me. That is, until we had to do a case study on the company for my marketing class this past week, and I learned more about the origins of the company and its success of integrating consumer feedback.

Rather than focusing on dragging people to showrooms and making them shuffle around the store messing up all of the display pairs of glasses, what Warby Parker focuses on its online distribution. In the pandemic-gripped world we’re currently living in, where so many things are already switching to semi-permanent remote status, it’s a safe and convenient option for people who don’t feel comfortable (or energetic enough) to brave the showrooms. But, you’re probably asking yourself, a big reason that people go to these showrooms is so they can try the glasses on. How can you do that when you’re buying them online? And believe me, that was my first thought, too. Eyeglasses are expensive, and they’re an important item that you don’t want to get wrong. If your prescription is incorrect, they don’t fit, or you’re just not in love with them, you’re in for a bad year. Warby Parker’s customers expressed this exact sentiment to the company, with amazing results.

Warby Parker heard its customers’ concerns via social media, and to mitigate those worries, they introduced their Home Try-On program, sending multiple pairs to customers to try on, and then they can ship the remaining pairs back for free. Something that the company does exceptionally well in this case is involve customers in the business-building process, which had enormous positive returns. If there’s one thing that people like, it’s the feeling of being listened to. Not only did customers have their concerns heard, but Warby Parker then went all in with it, encouraging them to share pictures of their brand-new specs (which the company then comments on and shares) to not only boost morale, but to show these buyers’ individual networks that they’re a trustworthy brand for their next glasses purchase. This promotes transactional communication with their customers, where customers benefit from having their concerns heard, and the business benefits by pleasing their consumers (and getting a lot of social media buzz in the process). Social media made these benefits possible, because it offers that two-way communication and exchange of ideas between Warby Parker and its patrons.

But here’s where it matters to us — how can we translate what Warby Parker (successfully) did into our own mission of becoming published authors?

By listening to our audience.

That’s one of the things I’m most excited for as a published author, honestly — the ability to really touch base with my readers to see what they’re receiving well in my novels, and what they’re not too keen on. Not only does this help better me as writer who is creating novels for an audience, but it also helps readers feel heard, and that’s incredibly important to me. Having the ability to tap into your audience helps you gauge their reaction to the content you’re putting forward (as explained by author Audrey Carlan in this GeekWire article). That’s one of the things I hope to implement in my upcoming author newsletter, launching next month. Not only do I want to use it as a space to update readers on the writing/querying process, but it’s important that I encourage them to respond to emails to let me know what they are/aren’t enjoying about my writing and content, so I can adjust for the future. Because who would we be if we refused to better ourselves?

If Warby Parker’s success is any indication, implementing direct feedback from your customers can have very positive effects — being that they’ve shipped more than half a million glasses to customers since their conception in 2010!

As a reader, how important is it to you to have your voice heard when it comes to your favorite author’s upcoming books? Comment down below and let me know!

4 thoughts on “Warby Parker & The Success of Always Adjusting”

  1. Hi Jessica! I love your blog and plan on subscribing to your newsletter. I didn’t draw a connection between the marketing efforts of Warby Parker and my own writing. You did a really great job illustrating the “why” of it. I look forward to reading your posts in class and on your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jessica!

    Connecting Warby Parker’s marketing style with your author platform was an interesting choice but something that seems like it would work well. Though Warby isn’t in the writing realm, their creative campaigns have helped them create a narrative applicable to other fields. Aside from the messages the company itself shares, Warby has opened the door for its fans and followers to join in on the narrative themselves. By encouraging customers to share their photos on social media, the company is utilizing the concept of social learning theory. Social learning theory is the idea that people are more likely to learn through the actions of others, especially peers (Mahoney & Tang, 2017). Customers sharing their Home Try-On photos are more likely to purchase the frames their peers give the thumbs-up on, and their peers are then likely to try out the brand for themselves.

    As you mentioned, listening is also an essential piece of Warby Parker’s marketing style. Listening to consumers is how they designed the business model, to begin with. Not everyone has the time or money to make the trip to the ophthalmologist, but it’s a necessity for many people. So the brand presented an option to consumers that is convenient and affordable based on what they observed and heard from consumers. Using direct feedback to influence marketing and business decisions is definitely crucial in today’s world!

    – Alex


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