July 25, 2012

Is It Marketing Innovation? Warby Parker Edition

The founders of Warby Parker have a new vision for prescription eyewear: take it from bland designs for shocking prices and turn to stylish pieces for college-student budgets. On top of that, the company has learned from online-retail moguls such as Zappos in their approach to consumer goods, allowing for a hassel-free return program with Nordstrom-level customer service. This online service also extends into the physical, staying in touch with the company’s roots when prospective customers were invited to try on frames in the founders’ apartment. Now, customers can play with the online try-on function using self-portraits, or select five styles of frames to be shipped to their home, to try on in-person.

To top off their combination of admirable consumer-based strategies, the company’s second pillar is firmly rooted in philanthropy. Working as global partners with those bringing sight to those who cannot afford it, Warby Parker works with a Buy-one-give-one strategy. For every pair of glasses purchased, a pair is donated towards bringing clear vision to the 15% of the global population who are vision impaired.

The company is easy to love, but we want your opinion on if it is innovative. Does this combination of successful methods into a single business plan fit the innovation criteria?

  • the application of a new idea, method, device or construct
  • delivers shared value to those who create and those who consume it.
  • It is not based on an instance but offers some level of sustainability over a period of time.  It has some durability
  • It is not invention – but its application to solving a particular problem or enabling a new use.
  • It disrupts the current way of doing things sufficiently to create new categories, markets, products and interactions