Felix Gray sells glasses that are designed to combat digital eye strain, which reduces eye fatigue, headaches, and blurred vision. Better known as Blue Light glasses.
Felix Gray was launched by David Roger and his co-founder, Chris Benedict, in 2016.
I have been tracking Felix Gray’s website sales since October 2021. In the 165 days, they received 16,723 orders. Their average order value is just over $100. This means in those 165 days, they have generated just over $1.7M in sales through their website.
How It Started
After David Roger graduated from Cornell University in 2013, he worked for Venture For America. He spent a lot of time staring at spreadsheets on the computer. He found that his eyes started killing him.
Blue Light filtering glasses did exist at this time, but they were not stylish and, quite frankly, were just ugly and embarrassing to wear. David set out to make stylish blue light filtering glasses.
Indie Go Go
In 2016, David launched an Indie Gogo campaign to raise money for their first manufacturing run. This campaign raised $18,045 from 89 backers.
2 Week Trial Test
David was operating Felix Gray in New York City. He came up with a plan to have companies like Spotify, Uber, WeWork, and others to allow their employees to test wearing a pair of Felix Gray glasses while they worked. Each company got 50 pairs for their employees to try.
At the end of the two-week trial period, the employee had the option to return the glasses or purchase the glasses with their own money. 1 out 3 testers purchased the glasses at the end of the trial. More people would contact them days after stopping using them to see if they could still purchase them.
This trial proved proof of concept and that their was demand for their product.
Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator
After getting proof of concept, Felix Gray joined The Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator for the summer session in 2016. They graduated from the accelerator in September of 2016. 6 months later, they raised $1M in seed funding.
Customer Acquisition Strategy
As you probably heard, they was a heyday for customer acquisition on Facebook. Companies like Away Travel, MVMT, and Casper benefitted greatly from low acquisition costs on Facebook. Today, that is not so much the case. However, Felix Gray did catch this benefit back in 2016 and 2017 like these other brands, and they were able to scale customers fast and inexpensively.
They also recognized an arbitrage opportunity with podcast ads in 2017. There was a large audience listening to podcasts, but the cost of podcast advertising had not yet caught up to the cost on other channels with similar size audiences because there was a lack of supply in podcast advertisers. Felix Gray capitalized on this by creating content collaborations with podcasts (specifically with Barstool Sports).
Felix Gray needed to know what advertising channels were working for them and what channels were not. When selling a physical product with a focus on profitability, they did not have the luxury of running brand awareness campaigns. They needed their advertising to drive direct response sales.
Felix Gray took steps to make sure they could measure and understand the effectiveness of their advertising channels. They would use unique URLs and post-purchase surveys to get a true understanding of how customers were hearing about them and what was driving them to make a purchase.
Word of Mouth
From their post-purchase surveys, Felix Gray knows that word of mouth is their number 1 lead source. To get people to talk about your product, you need to give them something to talk about.
So obviously, first and foremost is the product. Is it high quality, and does it do what you claim it to do?
Second is the experience of getting the product. How is the packaging? Is it a pleasant experience to receive and unpackage the product? How does it ship? Does it get there quickly and within expected time frames?
Lastly, how is the customer service? If you have an issue, how easy is it to get that issue corrected?
These are all areas Felix Gray has excelled at and increased the likelihood that someone will tell their friends about the product they purchased.
$1.7M over 6 Months
This number felt a little low to me. My research on Felix Gray has me believing they should be doing well over $10M in annual sales.
One immediate thought is that they could be selling on other channels that are cannibalizing their direct-to-consumer website sales. Felix Gray sells their product through Best Buy and Game Stop. They also appear to have a model available through Target. These channels could be taking away sales from their own website (and possibly adding more overall revenue than they had before).
My second thought is competition. I have covered Shady Rays and Blenders Eyewear before. Both of these brands are generating millions of dollars of sales per month. And both of these brands have moved into selling blue light filtering glasses. You can also now get blue light filtering glasses from Warby Parker. These are brands that already have a large audience that can easily steal sales away from Felix Gray now that Felix Gray has proven there is demand for this product.
Lastly, did the pandemic bring sales forward? Searches for the term “blue light glasses” skyrocketed as the pandemic hit, and people were spending more time with screens (went from 200,000 monthly searches to 600,000 monthly searches in April 2020 and 1,000,000 monthly searches in September 2020.) Searches from their brand name, “Felix Gray”, jumped from 20,000 monthly searches to 74,000 monthly searches in April 2020. Currently, their brand name is only receiving about 9,000 monthly searches.
Unfortunately, to answer some of these questions, I would need to have been tracking them for years, and I only have 6 months of data on their sales.
Social Media Stagnant
Currently, Felix Gray has just over 45,000 followers on Instagram. In the last 36 months, they have only gained 1,500 followers (a 3% growth). I was shocked to see they did not have a COVID bump in their social media following. Instead, it has just been flat for the past 3 years.
However, this is not unique to Felix Gray. Gunnar, a direct competitor to Felix Gray, also has had very similar stagnant growth in their Instagram followers. Gunnar currently has 53,600 followers, and over the past 3 years, they have only gained 131 followers.
Felix Gray is attempting to grow beyond blue light glasses. They want to be a digital wellness company. They have started to introduce supplements that help enhance your long-term eye health and vision. And from the sounds of it, I would expect Felix Gray to be launching new products around Digital Wellness in the next few months.