“We started Warby Parker to create an alternative.”
—Warby Parker, History
Perhaps you’ve heard of (or even seen) the eyeglass retailer Warby Parker—a brand known for revolutionizing the eyeglass buying experience, and even better, for having fans who approach the brand like they would a trusted friend.
Initially founded as an online venture only, building frames in house and mailing customers five options to try, Warby Parker now has 12 retail locations and plans at adding another seven by then end of the year. With a value of 1.2 billion, a title of world’s most innovative company for 2015, and a reputation for social consciousness in donating over one million pairs of glasses through their “buy a pair, give a pair” program, we began to wonder how they did it.
— Francisco Guzmán (@brandinguzman) March 3, 2014
So why is Warby Parker so successfully, and why is it it that people who love Warby really love Warby?
Moving Beyond Customer Needs to Understanding Fans Interests
To begin, we wanted to know what was attracting people to the Warby brand. Using Crimson’s AffinitiesTM tool, we took a look at users’ common interests to see if this could illuminate what attracted them to the brand. Crimson’s AffinitiesTM works to analyze shared audience characteristics outside of the immediate conversation being analyzed, and indexes them for comparison against the general Twitter user. Those topic bubbles falling to the left resonate more highly with users while those falling to the right resonate less strongly. As the Affinities graphic below demonstrates, Twitter users discussing Warby Parker were no more interested in fashion than the general user not discussing Warby. What differentiates the Warby’s discussers is their high affinities for topics concerning brand recognition and reception. Those interested in Warby were 83 times more interested in blogging, 9 times more interested in content marketing and advertising, and 7 times more interested in entrepreneurship. Discussers also demonstrated less affinity for topics such as MTV and soccer, with 1/5 and 1/10 respectively. So how can we understand these affinities? Why would branding and marketing resonate more strongly with discussers, and what does this mean? We tracked buzz in conversation, noticing increased positive reception surrounding events related to marketing and public relations endeavors.
Engagement Beyond Product Advertising
Three key events that peaked conversation about Warby were:
- 1. #briteconf which generated a peak of 342 posts on the day of 3/3/14
This was a great event placement for Warby solidifying their image as being a part of “how today’s big ideas are reshaping the ways that organizations build and sustain great brands.”
- 2. The annual Warby Report which generated a peak 480 posts on 1/8/15, a notable 87% increase from the 273 posts generated the previous year on 1/10/14
@WarbyParker pleasure to see a Brand stay true to their “voice” even in an Annual report!
— nuts4shoes (@nuts4shoes) January 10, 2014
Fans over social praised the brand for this placement, toting the creativity and detail put into something as potentially dry as an annual report. This was right on the mark for Warby, appealing to fans who ate up the quirky, high design piece of collateral.
- 3. @fastcompany names Warby Parker as the world’s most innovative company for 2015. The event produced a peak of 301 posts on 2/9/15.This title validates Warby’s expertise, highlighting just how pervasive their disruption of the eyewear market has become.
These three events and placements reflect the Warby strategy—as being focused not only on the customer, but on the fan. The previous affinities for topics such as marketing and brand reception are not simply general interests. These interests can be directly tied to efforts by Warby: creating content and fostering engagement designed specifically for fans—moving beyond the purchase and beyond eyeglasses. While Warby marketing strategy and branding initiatives are important, we also wanted to know why the fans are fans.
Positive Identification with Brand Mission
In order to really understand our fans we built an opinion analysis, focused specifically on the positive drivers of sentiment around the brand. Why do people love Warby and what specifically do they love?
We noticed very quickly that most positive conversation centered not around product, but around Warby Parker as a brand, their mission, and cultivating a dynamic social engagement experience for their supporters. In other words, fans love Warby for Warby (not just for their glasses or their customer service—which don’t get me wrong are stellar). Fans extol the brand for its fidelity to its vision and ambition, of challenging the way things are done for the goal of doing better, and for its care for its fans beyond the business transaction. Even better, a significant portion of conversation was devoted to using Warby as a standard against which to measure other brands—as in, the “Warby Parker of Headphones.” The “Warby Parker of Headphones,” in the topic wheel to the right, refers to LSTN. A comparably Warby brand, LSTN has streamlined processes through moving production in house, all while maintaining a social consciousness in using every pair of headphones sold to help someone to hear for the first time.
In sum, people buy into why they’re doing what they’re doing—in Warby Parker’s words they are a “rebellious spirit…leading the way for socially conscious businesses.” It seems Warby Parker has become a new standard in brand excellence and social engagement for other companies to learn from and aspire to.
For another deep-dive analysis on two major fashion brands, we invite you to review our competitive brand analysis case study on J.Crew and Anthropologie.