Dubai-based online start-up offering a direct-to-consumer (D2C) subscription model for contact lens, Hopi has an ‘eye-opening’ personality. It is built on the premise that an optical brand doesn’t necessarily have to be without a personality. It doesn’t have to be boring; it can have fun and lifestyle elements. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Hopi’s subscription model ensures that consumers can receive high-quality prescription lens to their doorstep, at a fraction of the cost of branded retail lenses, claim co-founders Charles Wright and Kristian Stinson.
Before launching officially in December 2019, Hopi had closed an initial seed-funding round from Dubai-based investment and technology firm Esanjo Ventures. The start-up ran a lead generation campaign in March 2019 to gauge market demand for a concept like Hopi. The campaign offered consumers a discounted supply of lens in exchange for their early sign-up, and helped Hopi secure more than 19,000 subscribers in less than two weeks.
Currently, Hopi has 1,200 monthly subscribers. Since April 2020, this number has jumped 200% and continues to grow at a rapid pace. “Our monthly subscription model helps consumers to save 45% on their daily prescription lens. However, since the subscription is a new model in this market, and consumers may not like to remain bound, we launched the option for individual purchase of contact lenses in May 2020. Now, the breakup is 68% subscription and 32% single box purchase,” Stinson shared.
Three months into its launch, Hopi confronted a global health pandemic, which has made consumers re-evaluate the way they shop, who they buy from and how much they would spend. “While the pandemic was unforeseeable, if we have been able to not only survive but thrive during this period, we are convinced that our model is sustainable. During this period, we have closely focused on improving our customer experience. To avoid delays in delivery, we have ourselves delivered boxes to the consumers’ doorsteps,” Stinson said.
“We haven’t done anything drastically different from what we had set out to achieve in the first place,” Wright pointed out. “We have always been transparent about pricing, and as such, we didn’t engage in any mass sales to move products. Early into the pandemic, we realised that there would be a change in consumer behaviour, and we accommodated such changes, be that contactless payments or change of address. What’s important to us, is not only the sale but also the post-sale experience, which resulted in an even stronger relationship with our customer base.”
While Hopi has an ‘eye-opening’ personality, “eye-opening honesty” is the brand’s mantra. Customers often wonder how Hopi can offer contact lens at such affordable price points. “Big pharma brands have been controlling the contact lens market for decades, profiteering from insane mark-ups. We are educating our consumers about how they can avoid paying for these mark-ups by shopping on Hopi, as our model is built to obliterate the middlemen,” Stinson explained.
Hopi sources the contact lens from FDA-approved Pegavision in Taiwan, which has a monthly output of one billion. Hopi’s certified, daily corrective contact lens are available in +2.00 to -12.00 prescriptions.
But how does Hopi’s contact lens stand up against the brands that consumers have come to know and trust?
“We are different in our approach by trying to understand our customers’ needs in a better manner while offering them high-quality contact lenses at affordable price points,” Wright responded. “From simply delivering medicinal white boxes holding the contact lens, we are going a step ahead to build brand loyalty and offer a lifestyle experience. People don’t wear contact lenses only to see better; we have realised that through our conversations with customers. Many people wear contact lenses to engage in extreme sports, look and feel good and for such other reasons. And we cater to their demands in an affordable manner.”
Going forward, Hopi might even collaborate with brick-and-mortar retail brands, following a wholesale model. The start-up also plans to expand into Saudi Arabia and other GCC markets.
“We have developed the Hopi business model to be flexible and relevant in any part of the world. Having launched the business that’s performing well in the UAE, we have tested the concept and learned many lessons. Now we feel ready to expand in the GCC. We will first focus on entering Saudi Arabia, which will be a high-volume market and then the other GCC countries. After that, we will take Hopi to Southeast Asia followed by the US,” Stinson revealed.
“We don’t want to pigeonhole Hopi in the region; our focus has been international all along. The brand is built to resonate with a global audience. Anyone, around the world, who wears contact lens will see the value of shopping on Hopi,” Wright concluded.