How To Adapt Warby Parker’s Marketing Moves to Your Local Optical Market

It’s a precocious new kid on the block, but nothing in Warby Parker‘s impressive marketing strategy is radically new, observes David Friedfeld, who runs an independent optical supplier that his his dad founded in 1949.

At Vision Expo West, Friedfeld inspired independent opticals to adapt Warby Parker’s marketing strategies to their local markets and business models. Some are clever, new twists on techniques that successful opticals have used for years, he points out.

We covered the first marketing move in an earlier post. Here are three more.

Strategy #2—Warby Parker does social media very well.

You may not have the bandwidth to tweet, pin, and post about your practice multiple times a day, but you can certainly post on your social media channels a couple times a week. Take pictures of fun frames you’re carrying, your friendly staff, or your trip to Guatemala to do eye exams.

Strategy #3—Warby Parker creates interesting events and spurs you to think about eyeglasses at times you normally don’t.

The Class Trip is an old yellow school bus outfitted with an optical shop. It’s currently parked at The Picnic at Barton Springs—a food truck trailer park in Austin, TX. You can try on frames after dining at establishments like Ms. P’s Electric Cook, Turf n’ Surf Po Boy, and Hey! You Gonna Eat or What? It’s a hipster happening indeed.

This past August, Warby Parker teamed up with Pop-In@Nordstrom to offer “a curated selection of frames … as well as specialty items with a literary slant” in pop-up locations at six department stores.

Mobile opticals are nothing new, though they they’re typically break-even the first one or two years for most ECPs, says Friedfeld. The pop-up concept doesn’t require as much investment. You might set up in a high-end boutique or jewelry store on a Saturday if you sell high-end frames, or at community fairs for lower-priced frames.

Several Vision Expo West speakers mentioned that the trunk shows independent opticals used to do in the late 80s and early 90s are back and more successful than ever. Some practices report bringing in $50,000 at a trunk show, says Sherrie Rogerson, a merchandising expert at REM Eyewear and a speaker at Vision Expo West. The key to making money, says Friedfeld, is to come up with an optical retail event that generates excitement in your market or pops up in a space where lots of potential customers hang out.

Strategy #4—Warby Parker carries a limited selection of frames, creating a shopping experience that feels simple and transparent.

Showrooms feel curated, not overwhelming. You can create a curated vibe in your optical as well. Limit the number of frames you offer, and cut out frames that don’t turn well. Think about how you can make your shop simple and easy to navigate.

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