Four brands redefining their market

Sensemaking / Four brands redefining their market

From affordable quality to drone delivery, these brands are looking beyond the status quo for long-term success.

By Rob Greenfield / 28 Oct 2014

Warby Parker: ‘Try it and see’ model for designer eyewear

Traditional retail stores and opticians buy and sell designer glasses with expensive price tags. Founded in 2010, this carbon-neutral American eyewear company has built a sisable and loyal customer base through an e-commerce business model based on user testing. It produces its own designer eyewear that can be purchased at affordable prices (around US $95 a pair) via their website. Customers are offered a free ‘Home Try-On’ service that allows them to choose up to five pairs of glasses to try on for five days. This flexible sales model comes with a charitable incentive for consumers motivated both by value and by ethics: for every pair sold, another is donated to those without the means to buy. The combination of quality, affordability, values, a dynamic user interface, and sheer style has won the brand loyalty and recommendations in a highly competitive market. Scale? One million glasses sold.

Xiaomi: Affordable quality electronics meets social media

Chinese electronics company Xiaomi focuses on developing cheap, high-quality products for the lower-middle market. Its recent unprecedented success in Asia is epitomised by its innovative marketing model. Xiaomi offers periodic online flash sales to increase desirability: its second of this kind in India sold out in just 4.5 seconds. Money generated from these sales and subsequent software downloads is then invested into first-class components and upgrades rather than advertising. Xiaomi uses Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, to attract new customers. Engaging online forums help to convert one-time users into loyal fans. Wechat is then used for instant customer support. Registered forum users listed on ‘Me Fan’, the brand’s database, are given the opportunity to vote for ideas and review new software and product releases. This way, Xiaomi treats consumers as valuable assets in the creation and promotion of a product. Scale? Xiaomi sold more smartphones than Apple in China last year (4.4 million).

Amazon Prime: Drone delivery for seamless online sales

Amazon has massively diversified its sales in recent years: it started out with books in 1998, and now sells everything from necklaces to groceries. Now it aims to provide customers with the quickest, hassle-free shopping experience online, using all available mediums. Amazon Prime Air, a 30-minute drone-drop delivery system is set to take to the skies by 2015, building on offers such as 1-Click orders and same or next day deliveries. Membership of its two-day delivery policy, Amazon Prime, grew substantially in 2012 – largely due to free trial memberships being offered with each purchase of their biggest seller, the Kindle Fire. The next version, the Kindle Fire HDX, comes with an instant tech support feature. It’s an approach that values the consumer’s time, whether or not the product is worth the ever shorter wait… Scale? RBC Capital estimates Amazon Prime has 50 million members globally.

Beyond Meat: Love meat? Eat this instead

Most meat alternative brands cater for vegetarians or vegans. Rather than settle for the American $600 million meat alternative market, Beyond Meat aims to break into the $180 billion meat market instead. It is boldly offering plant-based substitutes to meat lovers with the promise that it’s just as tasty as animal protein, with health benefits. The company prides itself in engineering its products to look, taste, and feel like meat with every bite, rejecting the notion that something is ‘missing’ from their products. Instead, its newest burger ‘The Beast’ is marketed as a nutritional powerhouse with more iron and protein than beef and more omegas than salmon. Scale? The company claims to produce enough chicken replicas to save 1.5 million chickens a year. - Rob Greenfield

Image credits: Warby Parker; Amazon Prime



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