How Warby Parker Is Winning
Warby Parker San Francisco Location
Warby Parker has taken the prescription eyewear industry by storm. In 2015 the valuation was at $1.2 Billion. Imagine their value in 2018! They've gone from strictly selling glasses online to having nearly 100 locations in most major U.S cities and there are new stores opening all the time. Soon, there will be a Warby Parker store opening in your neighborhood. Is your business/practice ready for that level of competition? Let me give you an example of what could potentially happen.
Revelry Fitness is located on 3rd Ave right off of El Camino in San Mateo, Ca. They opened for business in 2014 and at the time there was no real competition. They have a prime location and the downtown area around them was about to undergo a facelift. All good, right? Well, where there was once an empty lot on the corner of 3rd and El Camino there is now a SoulCycle.
(Revelry Fitness (Red) next to SoulCycle (Yellow)
SoulCycle was acquired by Equinox Fitness in 2006 and they have been expanding aggressively ever since. In 2014 they reported $112 million in sales (up 50% from the previous year) and they are preparing an IPO which would make them only the third publicly traded fitness facility. As if having SoulCycle as their neighbor wasn't enough, Equinox is a block down on the corner of 4th & El Camino.
I share this with you to put things into perspective. The rules of business have changed. Online retailers are opening stores to get their slice of the local pie. You thought Warby Parker was taking some of your business when they were only online, just imagine what they could do if they move into your city, your neighborhood or… right next to you.
So I ask again. Is your business ready for that level of competition? Getting mad and throwing “shade” in their direction won’t do you any good. It just makes your business look scared, weak and vulnerable. So what should you do? The answer is… improve your marketing.
"You’re not competing with the quality of the product, you're competing with the quality of the presentation of the product."
It may seem like an obvious suggestion coming from me but it’s true. You’re not competing with the quality of the product, you're competing with quality of the presentation of the product. (McDonald's isn't winning due to the quality of food right?)
I personally went through the Warby Parker ordering process and tried the frames out for myself. They are improving their frame quality as time goes by but truth is the frames are nothing special. They don't use the best or worst materials for their frames and lenses. They are good for the average millennial consumer looking for convenience and low prices.
What WP does better than anyone else right now is marketing. They are the standard.
Let me break down some of their marketing tactics
They are targeting a “sweet spot” demographic between the ages of 17-34
Their stores are unique:
Each store has a one of a kind mural, design or city related theme,
They collaborate with respected designers on limited edition collections
They are extremely active on social media and they are a textbook example of proper marketing strategy.
They have a specific brand color (known as Warby Blue)
Many of their posts have nothing to do with their eyewear. Their posts blend with those of your friends and family
They regularly feature their employees. Makes them feel more relatable and “real”.
Their Instagram stories are short and sweet.
Their videos are well produced and their pictures always have a “positive” feel to them.
They take advantage of funny national holidays such as “National Bring Your Pet to Work Day”
They have amazing PR
I once saw a Warby Parker rep respond to a YouTube video title “which Warby Parker frame should I chose?”
Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa (WP Founders) are celebrities in the business world.
They do interviews, radio shows, podcasts and conferences.
They are the brands loudest evangelists.
They attend the grand opening of each new location.
They are also very active on social media
They don’t claim to have a better product than their competitor. They believe that their prices, presentation and customer service will make up for the lack of frame and lens variety. The gamble has paid off big time.
Now, you can do one of two things. You can surrender now and just wait for your competition to enamor your customers or you can start marketing like the future of your business depends on it. Update your website, stay active on Instagram, post creative content that shows you’re putting some effort into it, start a blog, open a YouTube account and so much more. If it seems like a lot… you’re right. It is. That’s why working with a marketing agency is something you should really consider.
Marketing, when done right, provides you with the best Return On Investment. More importantly than that though, marketing will keep you in the game when serious game-changing competition moves into your territory.
UPDATE: February 5, 2019
Less than a year after this post was published, Revelry Fitness closed the doors to their business for the last time. Though they didn't come right out and say Soul Cycle was the biggest reason for their struggles, they did mention that rising competition in their neighborhood played a big role in their decision to close up shop.
Revelry Fitness had a great online reputation, 5-Stars on Yelp with 73 reviews, but that just won't do it anymore. It helps, but it's simply not enough. The battle is being fought on many different fronts and small businesses need to understand that they either need to step up their marketing, or face the possibility of getting let with no other choice but to close up shop.