Are Eyeglasses More Fashionable Now than 5 Years Ago?

Most eyeglasses wearers (66.9%) recognize that eyeglasses are more fashionable now than they were 5 years ago. Only 1/7 of those who currently wear eyeglasses believe that eyeglasses are not more fashionable now than they were 5 years ago, according to The Vision Council VisionWatch Fashion vs. Function Eyewear Report.

When compared to other eyeglasses wearers, women, younger Americans, eyeglasses wearers from higher income homes and eyeglasses wearers who also use contact lenses were all relatively more likely to believe that eyeglasses are more fashionable now than they were 5 years ago. Also, it is interesting to note that the same demographics that view eyeglasses as more fashionable now are also the same consumer demographics that did not slow their purchases of Rx eyeglasses during the recession and weak economic recovery; their sustained purchasing activity has helped minimize the overall industry losses from 2008 through 2010.

In the average practice, the optical shop represents 60%-70% of the dollars coming through the front door. We need to pay attention to this area of the practice. Generally, our first thought about the optical side of care is to promote function over fashion. Our typical focus is to make sure the patient is able to function maximally at work, home, school and play.  But, the Vision Council Vision Watch Fashion vs. Function Eyewear Report reminds us to not forget fashion.

This Vision Council Vision Watch Fashion vs. Function Eyewear Report gives us valuable information. Fashion is important to our patients. It needs to be important to us as well. Based on this we need to question how well we manage fashion marketing in our opticals.

Fashion marketing goes beyond just merchandising. Fashion marketing involves positioning, branding, marketing mix, and, yes, merchandising. From the perspective of fashion marketing, go back and look at your optical and answer these four questions:

    1. Where have you positioned your optical?
         -High dollar
         –Medium dollar
         -Low dollar

     2. Have you branded your optical?
          -Do you have recognizable brands in your optical?
          -From just visuals, can a patient successfully navigate your optical?
          -Is there a theme in your optical?

    3. Do you manage your marketing mix?
          -Do you show the same frames as other opticals in town?
          -Do you have a minimum of 25 frames in each brand on the frame board?
          -What do you do with your non-performing frame lines?

    4. How well does your optical manage frame merchandising?
          -Do you highlight brands?
          -Are your displays focused (i.e.: not too many products on one display)
          -Are your best sellers at eye level?

Don’t just think about this, instead walk into your optical and ask yourself if you’ve achieved the fashion marketing objectives described above. Do you have room for improvement? Create a fashion marketing plan today to make your optical the best it can be.


Spectacle Lens Usage Stable in 2011

The Vision Watch consumer survey indicates a flat market for spectacle lenses during 2011. Unit sales increased 0.4% to 75 million pairs. The share of market of the major lens types was relatively unchanged during the year.





Why Do Patients Continue to Wear Progressive Lenses?

The majority of consumers-68%-who previously wore progressive lenses and continue to wear progressives say they do so because they were satisfied with the design, according to The Vision Council’s 2012 Progressive Lens White Paper. Of first-time progressive purchasers, 42% said they wanted something they could use for both distance and reading while 39% said they wanted something that did not have a line visible to others. Only 26% switched to progressives because their ECP recommended they do so. Of consumers who previously wore single-vision lenses and switched to progressives, the majority said they did so because their prescription changed.

If 68% were satisfied with the lens design and 32% were not, that’s a problem. Doctors and opticians need to better link lens design to patient lifestyle.  

So, how do you determine the patient lifestyle in your practice? As a group, eyecare providers have spent so much time trying to refine the medical history to meet reimbursement documentation requirements that we have ignored the lifestyle history questionnaire. So, let’s focus on the lifestyle history questionnaire today. Is it up to date? Does it include questions about tablet and smartphone usage? Does it question how much time the patient spends on near-work each day?  If not, today is the day you should initiate an update.   

The second issue here is lens design. We definitely need to make sure both doctors and opticians are matching patients’ lifestyles to the best lens design rather than just prescribing their favorite “safe” lens. This means taking the time to meet with lens manufacturer representatives, as well as in-depth discussions between doctors and opticians. Our goal is not to have a patient settle for an adequate lens design but rather to give our patients the best lens design for their unique lifestyle. Don’t forget to educate your patient about what you are doing and why.

Updating the patient lifestyle history questionnaire and making sure both doctors and opticians are matching the patient’s lifestyle history questionnaire with the best lens design are fundamental issues that need our immediate attention. Get this handled today and it will be a win for both your patients and your practice.

One–in–Six Contact Lens Purchases are on the Internet

Market Facts

A 2011 Jobson survey indicates that 17.1% of most recent contact lens patient purchases are made on the Internet, including 2.2% made on websites of independent ECPs (13% of all Internet purchases on contact lenses). The share of purchases made on the Internet appears to be steadily growing.

Why Do People Own Multiple Pairs of Eyewear?

There are three main reasons: To use as a back-up in case they misplace their current eyewear, for convenience purposes (to have different pairs in different locations) and for functionality (to have different pairs for different activities), according to the Vision Council VisionWatch Fashion vs. Function Eyewear Report. Approximately 39.3% of multiple pair owners keep additional pairs of eyeglasses on hand to serve as back-ups or spares just in case they lose their current newest pair of eyeglasses. There was very little demographic difference between eyeglasses wearers who owned more than one pair for back-up purposes, although it seems that women and eyeglasses wearers from the Northeast were a little more likely to keep extra pairs of eyeglasses around in case their current eyeglasses are misplaced.

The most straightforward argument for multiple pair sales is the need for an indoor pair of eyeglasses and an outdoor pair of eyeglasses. No one pair can do everything for all situations. Just as dentists, as a group, tell patients they need their teeth cleaned every six months, eyecare professionals need to be united in telling patients they need an indoor pair of eyeglasses and an outdoor pair of eyeglasses.

The best discussion to have with patients about outdoor eyeglasses is to focus on safety and function. Safety means the ability to drive a car and minimize disabling glare from the sun with polarized sunwear or the ability to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes with UV blocking lenses. Function means the ability to comfortably read while sitting by the pool or to comfortably work in the garden in the mid-day sun.

From a tactical perspective, always present the outdoor prescription to the patient before presenting the indoor pair. This approach is most effective. The bottom line here is quality patient care. Patients who have indoor eyeglasses and outdoor eyeglasses have a higher quality of visual functioning than those who do not. Our goal is to help patients achieve the highest quality of visual functioning. Addressing this issue helps patients move in that positive direction.

Retail Pricing of Progressive Lenses

Market Facts

Progressive Lens Sales Average $226 per Pairs

Data from the on-going VisionWatch consumer panel indicate that the average price paid for progressive lenses is $226. By comparison, the average price paid for bifocal lenses is $88 — $138 less than for PALs. The average price consumers pay for top-of-the-line free-form lenses is $298.

Fit Is Most Important When Making Frame Purchase

When asked to consider and rank five different aspects of the eyeglasses they recently purchased, most recent buyers thought that the fit of the frames on their face was the most important factor when settling on the frame they purchased, according to The Vision Council‘s VisionWatch 2011 Fashion vs. Function Eyewear Report.

In fact,  47.1% of recent eyeglass buyers ranked “fit of frame” as the top factor, and only 5.4% ranked the fit of the frame as last on the list of factors presented. The second most important factor considered when purchasing eyeglasses was the perceived durability of the frames that were bought. Over 1/6 all recent eyeglass buyers (17.5%) rated the durability of the frame as the most important factor in the decision to purchase the specific frames they bought. After the fit of the frame, the durability of the frame and the style of the frame, consumers are likely to consider the material of the frame when making an eyeglass purchase.

About 8.7% of recent eyeglass buyers rated the material of the frame as the most important factor when recently making an eyeglass purchase. On the other side of the spectrum, about 7.3% of recent eyeglass buyers considered frame material as the least important purchase factor. Frame material was more important amongst men and women, while older eyeglass buyers valued material more than younger eyeglass buyers.

In aggregate, among the five factors surveyed, the designer name of the eyeglass frame purchased was universally ranked as the least important decision factor considered when consumers recently purchased their eyeglasses. While 77.8% of recent buyers considered the designer name of the frame as the least important purchase decision factor, there were some consumers that considered the designer name of the frame when making their last purchase. In fact, approximately 6.7% of recent eyeglass buyers actually ranked the brand name of the eyeglass frame as the most important purchase decision factor. Typically men, younger eyeglass buyers and eyeglass buyers who also use contact lenses tended to place relatively higher importance on the designer name of the frame when making their last eyeglass purchase.