In this episode of the OMR Podcast, we are chatting with Mirko Caspar, CEO of omnichannel eyewear provider Mister Spex. Since Mirko has been at the helm, he has focussed on enhancing brand perception and convincing eyewear consumers to turn to online outlets as well as offline offerings. A decade later, a tenfold increase in annual revenue to EUR 194m is all you need to know about how it’s going for Mirko and Mister Spex. We spoke about specifics regarding purchasing habits of prescription eyewear consumers, how a streamlined omnichannel shopping experience and local partnerships have contributed to growth and how AI is impacting the present and the future of Mister Spex.
“Mercy of perceived experts and no control.”
When Mirko Caspar took on the role of CEO in 2011, he took over a company with stagnating revenue and an unhappy consumer base. “We saw that nearly two-thirds of consumers did not enjoy buying eyewear. Prices weren’t clear, the process took too long and it was uncomfortable,” Mirko tells OMR Podcast International host Scott Peterson. “People were simply at the mercy of experts and had no control. At the end, they received one offer, usually pricey, and that was it.” So Mister Spex began upping the transparency and providing consumers with as much information as possible to empower them to make informed purchasing decisions. “The next thing you know, consumers started enjoying the process.”
While Mirko was quick to point out that that is a major oversimplification, it was indeed a simple step that was a veritable game changer. “At the core of it, it’s all about delivering a customer experience that’s inspiring and empowering. We wanted to make eyewear buying more like shopping.” After growing revenue from EUR 11m when he started to EUR 194m for 2021, it’s safe to say that consumers have taken a shine to the new set up.
Growth boost from partnerships
With the shift towards transparency in place, Mirko, and founder Dirk Graber, set their sights on tweaking the business model, combining the offline with the online for an omnichannel experience. “Being digitally-driven allows us to be established nationwide in every country we are active in (they are active in ten at present) and build strong brand equity. We then leverage the data we’ve collected to open up stores in high-frequency locations and tap into even more demographics and integrate them into the omnichannel experience.”
One growth driver that has proven especially effective stems from partnerships with local opticians. “For many consumers, the process starts with an eye test.” Since Mister Spex lacked the necessary capital to create eye test locations themselves, they create the partner model with opticians. Mister Spex began referring visitors to the shop a local partner optician, who would perform the eye test within the integrated experience. In addition to keeping them within the Mister Spex cosmos, “traditional opticians are very good at upselling specific products once consumers are there for a test.” Within a year, the Mister Spex partner model expanded to 300 opticians and today has over 400.
The impact of AI
With seemingly any digital offering these days, AI and VR are largely untapped resources with massive potential. Mister Spex, however, is one of the first movers when it comes to “the technology of the future.” “Consumers can make a short video of themselves, regardless of the device, and virtually try on any model we have using AR technology.” One of the areas Mister Spex is working on in the short- to medium-term is incorporating deep tech. “We are constantly working to improve customer experience from a personalization angle. We purchased a deep tech company that enables you to take a scale map of your face using a mobile phone and then customize frames for consumers that they can then 3D print.” Furthermore, Mirko says that by knowing the specific contours of a consumer’s face, Mister Spex can recommend other models to further ensure peak customer experience.
Check out the entire episode of the OMR Podcast with Mirko Caspar to hear more on building an omnichannel experience, the impact of partnerships, international expansion and how the streetwear trend and brand loyalty have affected growth.