a revolutionary price, while leading the way for
socially conscious businesses.”
Warby Parker is a US-based brand and retailer for stylish, high-end prescription eyewear and sunglasses. They offer a quality product at a price that wildly undercuts the competition. Customers buy one pair of glasses and donate a second one to someone in need. This helped the company to have a unique selling proposition and increase its popularity.
More than 700 million people worldwide need glasses but don’t have access to them (Source: WHO). This leads to children falling behind at school because they cannot read, people can’t do their jobs, such as sewing, or cannot do their jobs efficiently enough, which leads also to a loss of economic productivity. Therefore Warby Parker’s objective is to “ offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.”
Low price but high quality can be achieved by vertical integration and cutting out the middleman: they design the glasses in-house and sell them directly to their customers (most brands do not design and manufacture themselves). Moreover the company is very conscious about their brand and value perception by the customer: every touchpoint in the customer journey is thoroughly designed.
US-based customers buy their glasses via an online shop and a few brick-and-mortar shops, while add-ons can be bought via phone. When Warby Parker started, selling glasses online was disruptive.
Customers in need:
instead of giving away free eyeglasses, Warby Parker donates the glasses to VisionSpring and they supply them to local entrepreneurs to sell the glasses to their neighbors. VisionSpring trains local entrepreneurs and partners – in June 2014 they already gave away one million free glasses.
Warby Parker gains revenue directly from their customers by cutting out the middle man. To cross-finance donations to people in need they follow the idea: for every glass sold they donate another pair.
Customer centricity is one of the core elements for the organization. Board member Joel Cutler says: “ If you’re building this lifestyle brand, you need wonderful people to develop a relationship with your customers.“. Moreover, doing good for every stakeholder is deeply rooted in the organization of Warby Parker. Besides their customer orientation, they are one of the few carbon-neutral brands for eyewear. The company has the status of a “B-corporation“.
Finding a good balance between doing good and chasing for profits can be a challenge. In this context Warby Parker is in the discussion to pay too low wages to their employees.
Donating can create dependencies. Therefore it is important to not donate but support poor people in order to create business structures.
Creating a customer oriented organization needs adaption and review all the time because there are always aspects to learn more about the customers’ needs and how to fulfill them as good as possible throughout all steps of the value formation.
Especially when entering a new market with its own peculiarities, local imitators could have already adjusted the business model according to local culture and established the first-comer benefits.
- The model of buying one and giving one for free can help to create a social but also profitable company
- Best-practice example for customer orientation.