Recently, my business partner and I went to the bank to open an account for this new venture and the manager being curious about our what we do found out we were in the optical industry and started to ask advice on where to go for a new pair of eyeglasses – what she should look for regarding the type of eyeglass frame, what did she need from her eyeglass lenses etc. Should she buy photochromic lenses or a pair of separate sunglasses? What was the difference between a “bifocal” and a “progressive”? Did she need anti-glare lenses? A lot of questions that she felt more comfortable asking us than her Optical Provider? Why? Because she was worried about being uninformed and that she would buy something she didn’t really need or worse did not satisfy her needs.
How often do you as an optical person run into someone at a party or any social event and after the exchange of where do you live, what do you do, get asked “how do I find a good pair of eyeglasses?” Frequently right, just like our recent experience with the bank manager? You ask them a few questions about what their needs are then you try and give them some guidelines, then you count to ten and think mmm I should write the key points down for them because you know they can’t remember all this and then even worse, you can’t guarantee that they will be asked the correct questions when they go to buy their eyewear. My husband says it is like buying “carpet” everything is in code and only the retailers understand it, we consumers don’t have a clue what we are buying. Shouldn’t we as an industry break the code and help the consumer be more educated about the wonders and benefits of good eyewear? Hard to do when the major advertisers are selling BOGO and “2 pairs for $39” thus lowering the price threshold expectation so that even a basic pair of eyeglasses entails several perceived “add ons” by the consumer. About a year ago I did a price survey for a client and discovered that some of the larger chains are including anti-reflective coating and scratch coating in the cost of the lens, they are no longer offered as options. These lens treatments are are seen as basic needs. It goes one step further than “packaged’ pricing and really does the customer a service by including them.
Being compared to the carpet industry was a wake up call to me – we need to simplify the options particularly different lenses and lens treatments for our customers and make sure that they understand the benefits of “options” so that they are recognize the value and don’t feel that they are being sold “add ons”.