Direct-to-consumer contact lens behemoth 1-800 Contacts is awarding all of its paid marketing work to R2C Group. The online retailer is consolidating its marketing and creative work, moving it from multiple agencies to the independent, DTC-focused agency.
Unifying the 1-800 Contacts marketing work under one agency will create a $33 million account.
“This was first and foremost a strategic decision. When I joined 1-800 Contacts, it was clear to me we had an opportunity to improve our messaging, our customer targeting and touch strategy, and our approach to full-funnel marketing,” Phil Bienert, chief marketing officer of 1-800 Contacts, told The Drum. “While each of our separate creative and planning agencies was doing a decent job in their respective areas, it quickly became clear that we could execute with better quality, consistency, and speed if we brought in a single agency who could partner with us on getting the right message to the right customers at the right time.”
The goal is to more easily ramp up the vision care company’s marketing programs as it aims to grow its business and outpace competitors. DTC brands are attracting a segment of consumers whose spending is projected to increase at an 18% compound annual growth rate through 2022, according to Forrester. So, 1-800 Contacts sits squarely in a growing market.
“For over two decades, 1-800 Contacts has been an unapologetic disruptor on behalf of consumers in the vision care space,” Bienert said in a statement. “As we look to the next phase of the company’s growth with new offerings, such as ExpressExam — our online vision exam — and our house contact lens brand AquaSoft, it became clear that R2C was the right partner to get our message in front of consumers.”
Bienert has been with 1-800 Contacts for about 15 months. He previously served as chief marketing officer and executive vice-president of digital commerce for GoDaddy, the disruptor web hosting service.
1-800 Contacts is considered a disruptor and a leader in vision care not only by providing direct-to-consumer access to contact lenses, but also by championing patients’ rights to access their own vision prescriptions. Bienert and 1-800 Contacts consider R2C Group’s suite of marketing and advertising services — including data-driven creative, media, and analytics — and its expertise working with D2C companies such as Wayfair, Chewy, Peloton, Smile Direct Club, as ideal to help retain that leadership position.
“Part of R2C’s DNA is being a data-driven marketplace disruptor," Bienert told The Drum. “This fits with 1-800 Contacts very well, as we were the original disruptor in the vision care space. The fact that R2C has attracted so many like-minded disruptor brands isn’t by accident.
“I’m excited to get new work into the market, where we can immediately measure the customer impact and adjust in real time. It’s early in our relationship, but the willingness and ability of the R2C team to execute our vision and get it into market very quickly have been impressive.”
Already in progress, the transition should be completed this month.
Jane Crisan, president and chief operating officer of R2C Group, points out that Bienert and 1-800 Contacts' decision fits within a broader consolidation trend. “For several years, we saw a trend of clients hiring marketing specialists…,” Crisan said in a release. “Now we’re seeing the pendulum swing back in the other direction — consolidating marketing partners makes sense for an established yet innovative company looking to scale and stay competitive with the current market. It means cohesive work, and more holistic measurement to re-disrupt the space and do it better than the competitors.”