Influencer Marketing, eCommerce and Social Media: A Case Study on Hawkers Led by Alejandro Betancourt

Hawkers, a company that produces sunglasses fitted with polarized lenses that are styled to impress, began in December 2013. In just two years, the company began to top the “best-of” lists. It’s fair to say that the company disrupted the fashion sunglasses industry. From just a few hundred initial sales, Alejandro Betancourt grew the company into a mega-selling store that, by 2016, moved 10,000 units per day and raked in over $70 million. To do so, Hawkers revolutionized the potential for e-commerce and online selling, but they didn’t follow the standardized rules. Of the $70 million in sales made in 2016, almost $65 million came from social media. Here’s how they did it.

Influencer Marketing

Moreover, Alejandro Betancourt and his team targeted influencer marketing on college campuses, where they utilized word-of-mouth marketing combined with social influencing. The Hawkers buying community was mostly organic. With the help of word-of-mouth marketing and social leveraging, the company brought members to their buying community from more than 140 countries worldwide.

Today, Hawkers sells 90% of their products online. Their ability to disrupt the sunglasses industry is beyond amazing. The company went from four friends working together to promote one product to adding even more products and many employees. How they accomplished this is simple. They were a new company that needed social influencers, but they didn’t have the budget to book an A-lister. Instead, they looked at the world around them, at the world of social media and its non-celebrity influencers.

Hawkers launched a Campus Ambassador Program that used influencers from social media circles. In Spain, they found 5,000 brand ambassadors on college campuses across the country to help drive sales. They capitalized on the social reach of a variety of students from across the college spectrum, including star athletes, students with lots of friends, and the average college kid. Each student posed on their social media profile wearing Hawkers sunglasses and living the lifestyle of the brand.

Since each student had his or her own circle of friends, word about the brand began to grow. The students went to festivals, concerts, and other events, and their selfies showcased Hawkers sunglasses in some cool venues. People noticed, and Hawkers sales accelerated. Each student’s circle of influence hit the social media world, and from there, they helped catapult Hawkers into becoming a multimillion-dollar company. That is the power of social media and it paid off for Hawkers.

Through the power of social media, Hawkers built a buying community. Later, they turned to social media ads to further their reach and increase sales.

Scaling to World Sales

Because Betancourt and the team needed to handle the crazy increases in demand, they turned to Shopify Plus to give the company the technology they needed to advance. As the company grew, Shopify Plus efficiently handled that growth. It was a seamless growth that provided Hawkers with the tools they needed.

The greatest gift that Shopify provided was the ability for the team to focus on what they did best: marketing and sales. Shopify handled the tech, so the team didn’t have to reinvent it. Shopify provided tools like custom integration and API, which empowered Hawkers to deal with their buying community in real time. That level of customer service helped drive sales. Providing details about orders at every juncture not only is helpful for the buyer’s journey, but it also allows the company to remain in contact with customers who may buy more products. Shopify Plus provided that win-win.

The Lesson Learned

We talk a lot about the power of consumerism, but not every company listens. Social media marketing and the power of word-of-mouth marketing allow a company to deal directly with the end consumer. Other companies can learn from that. Because they took the time to care about what their customers considered significant, what they believed in and their social concerns, Betancourt and his team turned it all into a company that managed to go from a $300 investment to $100 million in sales in just a few years.

Originally published at on December 22, 2020.

President of Hawkers Co. | International businessman, based in London, UK | Learn More: or