Most contact lens users are rule breakers, guilty of wearing their lenses too long, which can lead to infections and inflammation. Daily disposable lenses are seen by optometrists as a healthier option than weeklies or monthlies, but their higher cost—upwards of $50 each month—means that a majority of people opt out.
In 2015, Benjamin Cogan, a researcher at shaving startup Harry’s, grew frustrated with the price of his lenses and began to look at the industry with a friend and former colleague, investment analyst Jesse Horwitz. They learned that four lens manufacturers controlled about 95% of the U.S. market. Cogan and Horwitz decided to steal a page from other direct-to-consumer companies like Warby Parker and Casper by cutting out middlemen and offering daily lenses at a more affordable price.
They partnered with Taiwanese contact lens manufacturer St. Shine Optical, which already had FDA approval and had been distributing lenses at a small scale throughout the U.S. Cogan and Horwitz decided on a subscription model that sends patients a month’s supply for $30. Other brands will usually only offer a comparably low price if customers place a bulk order.
As the Hubble Contacts team geared up to launch the online company, they used lead ads on Facebook to assess market interest in affordable disposable contact lenses. The more people who completed the lead ad forms – which requested people’s email addresses – the more interest the company could discern in the disposable lenses market.
The lead ads featured an image of a single Hubble contact lens balancing on a fingertip, while advert copy encouraged people to sign up to be informed of the Hubble Contacts launch. The lead ads clicked into a context card that offered more information on the lenses, which prompted people to then click “Sign Up” to learn more. The form was prefilled with people’s email addresses, based on information they had provided in their Facebook profiles.
By using lead ads, Hubble Contact could build an email list of people who had already shown interest in the product and then retarget its ad to this list, eventually converting people through purchases.
After successfully establishing a market for cheaper, alternative contact lenses, the Hubble Contacts team used ads optimised for conversions to target its email list. These conversion-focused campaigns now direct people to the new and improved Hubble Contacts website, where they can purchase Hubble contact lenses or find an optometrist who can fit them with Hubble lenses.
Hubble reached $20 million in subscriptions in its first nine months of operation, and it continues to add more than 20,000 new subscribers each month. The company recently expanded into Canada, and is now looking to enter the European Union and Australia. Cogan and Horwitz say Hubble’s success is due in part to the modern, playful packaging (courtesy of design firm Athletics), and a simple ethos of convenience and affordability.
Check out my related post: Have you tried Warby Parker?