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Warby Parker: 5 Reasons To Love (And Emulate) Its Marketing

By Rachel Samlall

These days, big businesses aren’t the only masters of marketing. In fact, when brands make it to megastardom (think GE, Starbucks, Microsoft), the connection they’ve established with a target audience can go stale after decades of success, or may be interrupted by a new phase in an ever-evolving social consciousness.


Trending in marketing right now is the cultivation of authentic appeal by embracing and reflecting the values of a modern audience. If you’re wondering what your business can do to get an edge in this modern world, take a look at the business model of Warby Parker (WP), a largely online prescription eyewear company founded in 2010. Here’s why their marketing is the stuff of legend:

  1. Their philosophy is wholesome. WP was created in order to solve a widespread and largely ignored problem. Glasses are a basic necessity – lots of people need them, but not everyone can get them. WP was troubled by the high costs of prescription lenses, so their vision to serve the visually impaired materialized when they came up with an alternative to traditional methods of eyewear production. Their desire to address the lack of access to glasses helped them springboard into additional philanthropic channels, but more about that in a sec.
  1. They’ve identified their target audience. WP markets to an online generation. They’ve tapped into what matters most to their audience by being the first company to solve a specific and pervasive problem. On top of that, they manage to make us feel indulged. If you see a pair of glasses on their site that you love but aren’t sure how they’ll look on, no problem – they have home try-on. You get five pairs of your choice in the mail, keep the pair you like best and send the rest back. In other words, they tell us their shopping experience is fun and easy and back it up with actual proof. Plus, you don’t have to spend the equivalent of a mortgage payment to look and feel good.
  1. They carve out a culture. The people in this company serve their community by supporting local events where they have retail stores. They also create a fun and engaging workspace, make fair and safe working conditions a priority for their factory employees, and use environmentally responsible materials in their product. Theirs is a culture of transparency, a culture of people who are unashamed because they do the right thing, even though they don’t have to.
  1. They engage. WP crafts a playful but sincere tone that reflects the personalities of its founders. Their site tells the company’s story in a way that makes you feel like you’re part of the Cool Kid Club. Its founders even introduce themselves in an open-armed style, revealing quirks like their karaoke picks and happy places. Five minutes into reading their content, you can picture yourself sharing a nerdy joke and a coffee with any one of them. Brilliant.
  1. They’re philanthropic. In addition to creating opportunities for employees to contribute to the greater good individually, WP stays true to its original mission, which is to provide glasses for those who have difficulty accessing them. They have a program called Buy a Pair, Give a Pair, where nonprofit partners accept a monthly donation from WP that helps foster education and build sustainability in developing countries. The program allows people in need to earn a real living by giving basic eye exams and selling glasses in their communities. WP understands the true spirit of philanthropy, which is not to put a Band-Aid on a bad situation, but to heal it.

We at McKinsey Development believe the attainment of success is an ongoing education for all of us. Anyone can grow an idea or a business with the right support. Sometimes the best way to find inspiration is to look around and learn from others whose principles resonate.