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With nearly 45 million Americans needing eyeglasses or contact lenses today, direct-to-consumer (DTC) contacts and glasses brands are among a select group of industries that have benefitted from the current work-from-home lifestyle. These digitally native businesses that have dominated consumers’ social feeds and internet screens have replaced traditional eyewear brands, in many cases, and continue to utilize multichannel digital advertising and innovative ideas to connect with consumers.
1-800 Contacts Sees Spike In Sales As Eye-Care Stores Close
Unlike many major marketers, 1-800 Contacts increased its ad spend in recent weeks, adding new channels such as podcasts, streaming audio and more linear television. According to Digiday, 1-800 Contacts is arranging meetings with publishers the company hasn’t advertised with previously. “Because we’re a DTC company, we’ve always had a strong presence in digital and social media,” said Phil Bienert, 1-800 Contacts CMO. “A lot of where we’ve been trying new things has been more in upper-funnel media, because this is about getting a message out there that there’s an option.”
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, 1-800 Contacts has seen an uptick in new customers, as many people are seeking out convenient, available options to eye care. The brand recently reported it has experienced a 23% increase in call volume, a 20% increase in length of call time and a 200% increase in usage of its telemedicine tool. “We’re really focusing on telling people that they can stay at home, and we can give them contact-less delivery of your contacts,” Bienert added.
Liingo Eyewear Appears Relatable Through Latest Made-From-Home TV & OTT Ads
Online eyewear brand Liingo recently capitalized on consumers’ new WFH lifestyle and subsequent need for DTC brands with their latest TV and over-the-top (OTT) campaign, filmed and produced remotely. Liingo’s ad spotlighted the convenience and ease of the at-home Liingo try on tool, showing real-life people trying on the frames from the point of view of their computers while socially distancing.
The Liingo initiative aims to build brand awareness with more Americans who need glasses, and as the company recently reported dramatic growth with new customers looking for a trustworthy online source for contacts and glasses. Liingo’s campaign successfully brought a relevant and relatable piece of marketing to consumers screens that captures a moment we are all currently living through.
Fitz Frames Targets Kids Through DTC Subscription Model
Fitz Frames honed in on a specific audience when launching their DTC business model, creating a customized subscription glasses service made solely for children. Kids (or parents) download the Fitz Frames app to go through a virtual try-on, where the retailer uses facial-mapping software with thousands of data points to customize glasses that are then 3D printed on demand and delivered to consumers’ homes. Fitz Frames recognized a need among parents looking to purchase sturdy, yet affordable, glasses for their kids with the option to replace those glasses after they inevitably get worn down by expected “kid behavior.” For $185, customers receive two pairs of glasses, plus an unlimited number of replacement frames each year.
Throughout February and March, Fitz Frames reported sales growth, and Fitz Frames Founder Heidi Hertel anticipated the growth to continue throughout April and potentially beyond. With nearly 20 million kids in the U.S. needing prescription glasses today, Fitz Frames recognized the need for a convenient and accessible option of purchasing prescription eyewear, now and for the long-term.
While the DTC contact lens and eyeglass industry may seem like a niche audience to many, eyewear is essential for many Americans. The benefits of providing consumers with DTC options are more apparent than ever, as DTC business models provide consumers with easy, personalized, direct access that they simply can’t get through many traditional brands. Looking ahead, DTC brands must account for ever-changing variables while continuing to prioritize customer loyalty, exceptional user experiences, engaging marketing tactics and diverse sales channels.
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