marketing challenges facing Warby Parker in the future and what advice would you give the company on how to face them?
In 2010, Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa had started a company called Warby Parker that sold prescription glasses. It was a successful company that had gone from selling 20,000 eyeglasses to over 100,000 per year. The founders too integrated their mission with a social mission: to increase access to prescription eyewear around the world.
In the beginning, in 2010, the founders had come across problems. Now once again, the founders were prepared for change. Change involved the following factors:
the team size was growing
The company was planning to move from a word-of-mouth marketing strategy to a virtual one that would be more intentional
the company was also planning to increase the company's manufacturing partner base
The question was how they were going to accomplish these changes whilst retaining their ethos.
The two primary competitors of Warby Parker were Luxottica Group Spa (LUX) and Essilor International SA (EI). To cut prices and offer cheaper glasses, Blumenthal and Gilboa decided to sell their glasses online. Others had also already one online or were intending to penetrate it, but Warbury Parker's niche was offering branded, high quality and low-priced eyewear.
Another one of their goals was to be a "social responsible "business. They promised to give one pair of free glasses to anyone one who needed it with every pair of glasses bought.
Warbury Parker also employed excellent customer service:
They combined customer friendly policies, like free shipping and a 30-day "no questions asked" free return policy, with creative ways for customers to "try-on" glasses. They licensed the best virtual try-on technology in the market and devised a home try-on program. When ordering, customers would have the option to select up to five frames that would be shipped to them for free, allowing them to try on pairs in the comfort of their own home. They would be able to keep the glasses for one week before sending them back to Warby Parker (at no cost), with the subsequent opportunity to make a purchase.
Early on, the founders had long decided that the brand would epitomize classic, American heritage design, exceptional value, amazing customer service and social good. The founders too decided to develop their brand around the following four criteria: aesthetic, excellent customer service, sustainability / social mission, and price.
The company also created a culture that was built on fun and transparency. Employees described the company as having a "social atmosphere" where "people are not just coworkers, but friends." At the same time, the founders insisted that the twin rules of "always presuming positive intent" and "embracing honest but difficult conversations"
Later the two founders expanded into four: Gilboa and Raider focused on operations, including customer service, order fulfillment, and legal and finance. Blumenthal and Hunt worked on marketing, branding, eyewear design, website user experience and the social mission. In order to remain objective despite their friendship, they would ask advice of their one of their earliest advisors, Wharton Marketing Professor David Bell who would cast the deciding vote. They also conducted monthly 360-review sessions together to provide constructive feedback and to prevent possible problems.
Warby Parker grew quickly. Marketing was primarily word-of-mouth. In January 2012 Warby Parker had 50 employees. The company planned to hire about 50 more throughout the year in order to keep up with growth projections other areas of the company, such as the technology division, too began to significantly expand during that same year. Warby Parker also sought experienced candidates to lead the areas of finance, technology, marketing, and supply chain management
As the company grew they also saw that they had to change their learning approach and the company introduced training workshops for employees. The company too opened a division to support their social changes. The extra pair of glasses given away for free supported projects ranging from the fight against breast cancer to the restoration of communities affected by armed conflict in central Africa
In January, 2012, however, Warby Parker's Social Innovation division faced challenges. Firstly, they had to get customers interested in their social projects; many of their customers were unaware of these activities. At the same time, Warby Parkers was concerned that publicizing their activities and actively involving their customers, would seem intrusive to many other customers
The second challenge was rallying their employees around their social activities. They were unsure whether or not they should do so.
Thirdly, the company's growth has called for an expansion of its partner base. Warby Parkers was seeking partners / associates that would merge with the goals and culture of the company.
In short, Warby Parkers is growing and this is both good and bad news. bad news because it is changing because with growth comes new challenges and the original founders wondered whether the methods that they had used in the beginning years would be suffice to propel the company through the years of change that lie ahead specially as the company is going to grow expecting to double by 2012.
Until now too most promotions have been homegrown trained from within the company. The company is now intending to hire partners from outside. They questioned whether they would be able to find experienced and culturally-savvy candidates to fill high-level positions and whether these new people would continue leading the company in the traditional way.
The founders also asked themselves what the best integrated online and offline marketing strategy for a brand like Warby Parker might be. Until now Warby Brothers had worked with clients within its social circles. Now they were planning to expand from beyond that. Media and word-of-mouth had helped them the first two years. The company now planned to invest in marketing efforts. Their question now was which marketing efforts would be most effective for them to replicate the success of the first two years.
Finally, the company had the challenge of continuing to innovate in order to keep its method and approach -- its business -- fresh.
Summary of challenges
The marketing challenges of Warby Parkers are the following;
1. Warby Parkers need to brand themselves. They need to formulate a formal vision, mission, and philosophy of culture and keep it constant so that they and their stakeholders as well as their clients have something to identify and recognize them by. In this way, too, WP would know how to structure a training program that would orbit around their culture and values and know which kind of partners to look for
2. WP need to build a brand and loyal customer base
3. WP want to expand to a different clientele whilst retaining the one they have
4. WP need to keep their business fresh and continue to innovate
These are the steps that Warby Parkers has to see to:
1. Formulating a vision, mission, and culture
If Warby Parkers wants to find partners who will continue to lead company in their culture, they have to formalize their culture. Until now it has been ad hoc. They need to formulate a vision, mission, and cultural description.
All businesses should have vision, Mission, and Culture. It hedges the business in and informs clients of the business's identity. WP does have one but it is vague. They need to formalize it.
1. Vision Statement -- This is the overall big picture of the company. Where they see the company in, for example, five years from then and what they want to achieve within that five-year bloc.
2. Mission statement -- what WP stands for and what it is striving to achieve. This is a description of its services and niche. WP may well describe this as creating cheaper prescription glasses that are quality and doing this within a social services manner.
3. Culture -- This is the attitude that WP seeks to promote within its business. WP sets out to have a fun and collaborative as well as transparent environment where all work together. It also wants to promote the values of social activism. (Trades Coaching)
It was best for WP to sit down together and formulate Mission, vision, and culture on paper. Now that they have it formalized, they can publicize it by inserting it in their leaflets, incorporating it as logo on their websites and other materials, and generating their workshops and training programs around it.
Warby Parkers, too, can now know what to look for in potential employees since they want employees to epitomize these values.
Step 2. Warby Parker needs to build a brand and loyal customer base
There is a difference between brand identity and brand image. Brand identity is the Mission, Values, and Culture that WP has created and which is the way that they want potential clients to regard them. Brand image, on the other hand, is the way that customers do regard the company. WP wants customers to regard them in a positive way. They want to stake…