How to position branded eyewear in your practice

Orlando, FL— While online optical retailers have disrupted eyewear sales for many optometric practices, ODs can position their expertise and branded lenses in a way that hooks a large portion of interested consumers. Jackie O’Keefe, LDO, explored branded eyewear consumer markets and explained how to appeal to them at Vision Expo East 2021.

Why buy branded?

Three main motivations drive branded eyewear sales. They are:

· I know you—there is an intimate understanding of what the brand is

· I like you—the brand is held in a high regard

· I need you—the brand is appropriate for the consumer’s needs

Depending on how distinctive, unique, and appealing eyewear is, consumers may also be motivated to buy on impulse.

Branded eyewear buyers often enjoy accessorizing and may be status conscious, desiring the latest fashion, says O’Keefe. These individuals may justify spending more for popular products, which hold more value.

ODs who foster a trusting relationship with patients will have an easier time selling branded eyewear than those who do not take the time to nurture trust, she says.

Consumer profiles

According to O’Keefe, 2% of U.S. market consumers are innovators.

“These individuals would be willing to fly out to the house of Coco Chanel and purchase in European countries where trends are first emerging,” O’Keefe says.

Some 30% of U.S. consumers are early adapters. “These people enjoy buying their eyeglasses from places like small, hometown boutiques that are hidden from the masses,” O’Keefe says.

The majority (69%) of U.S. consumers buy glasses when they become comfortable to purchase.

“It takes fashion in the European market about 4 years to become comfortable to the average U.S. citizen,” O’Keefe says. “After 4 years, most folks have become familiar enough with a fashion trend to spend money on it.”

About 16% of U.S. consumers are laggers and want frames based on functionality instead of fashion. “These individuals want to feel value for the product itself,” O’Keefe says. “They much prefer spring hinges, titanium, stainless steel; they don't want a designer’s name on their temples.”

The power of branding

Branded eyewear offers advantages over generic options. Aside from looks, quality, and warranty coverage, branded eyewear can simplify purchasing, inspire confidence, imply additional benefits, create loyalty, and even evoke emotion.

“Branded eyewear makes a promise that distinctly defines the product in its market and against competition over time,” O’Keefe says. “Use this to create ongoing relationships with buyers.”

The OD’s responsibility

Selling eyewear is a visual process, and the first step to success is a hands-on approach. O’Keefe suggests every staff member in an optometric practice wear branded frames and change them often in front of patients. ODs can create a positive emotional experience with a specific brand by:

· Believing in it

· Knowing all about it

· Showing loyalty to it

· Displaying it appropriately

· Presenting it accordingly

· Marketing it consistently

“Lead by example, and maintain the essence,” O’Keefe says.