The Three Things Warby Parker Did To Launch A Successful Lifestyle Brand

Posted: May 7, 2013 in Technology

20130507-212635.jpg. Warby Parker, like so many other lifestyle/tech hybrid
companies, faced the problem many small companies
see while trying to launch a real brand: how do you
make the story resonate? Neil Blumenthal, co-founder of the company, spoke at
the Wired Digital Conference where he described
Warby Parker as a “mission driven” company.
Blumenthal said that the idea behind the company
came when a friend left a $700 pair of glasses in an
airline seat pocket. Having seen how cheap glasses are made in Asia at the same factory that made those
$700 glasses while working at a non-profit,
Blumenthal imagined a lifestyle brand that reduces
the friction associated with hopping down to the
optometrist. “There’s a strong business rationale for everything we
do,” he said. “We’re doing good in the world.” The company is a mere three years old and
Blumenthal and the other founders spent a full year
working on a few basic things, including building a
narrative around the brand. “We only invested into three things the first year: to
start our first collection, our website, and PR,” he
said. Blumenthal later talked up importance of having
a socially responsible mission — in this case, the
company’s buy a pair, donate a pair Do Good program
— and the effect it could have on driving sales. According to Blumenthal, having that sort of vision
increases customer loyalty and word of mouth buzz
— right now, about half of Warby Parker’s sales are
driven by word of mouth. The final step in the plan? Raising awareness. Even
before the company moved to New York and began
creating pop up shops, the nascent Warby Parker
team allowed customers to come up to the office
(a.k.a. Blumenthal’s apartment on Philadelphia’s
Walnut Street) to try on frames. They got very lucky. Business took off. “When we launched, within 48 hours we had to
suspend the home try-on program because of lack of
inventory,” he said. The company became so successful that the office
they worked in SoHo kicked them out – customers
who wanted to visit the office were using the elevator
so much, they broke it.

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