Article

CONTACT POINTS

Our annual Contact Lens Virtual Focus Group survey reveals the state of the contact lens sales market, where it’s going, and how eyecare professionals are competing against online competition

According to the 2017 Eyecare Business Contact Lens Virtual Focus Group survey, contact lens patients comprise about one-third of the average optometric practice’s business. But, less than one-quarter of a practice’s revenue is from the actual sales of contact lenses themselves.

Is that disconnect surprising?

Not when you figure in the growing popularity of discount contact lens sellers—from big-box retailers to online giants like 1-800-CONTACTS—that continue to compete for contact lens sales.

On these pages, we reveal the results of our annual ECP survey, including how your peers are competing for those online dollars. Dive in to get all the intel you need to position your contact lens business for a profitable year.

Find out what your peers are prescribing, how they are pricing their contact lenses, and—perhaps most important—in which categories and modalities they anticipate growth.

Contact Lens Snapshot

22%
OF GROSS REVENUE IS DERIVED FROM CL SALES
(DOWN from 30% in 2016)

33%
OF PATIENTS ARE CONTACT LENS PATIENTS
(DOWN from 43% in 2015)

59%
OF ECPs HAVE SEEN AN INCREASE IN CL SALES IN PAST 6-12 MONTHS

Pricing Is on the Rise

77% of our survey respondents report they are charging MORE this year than they did last year. This number is up from the 68% who responded similarly in our 2016 survey.

Business Snapshot: General CL Market Sales

More than half (59%) of respondents have seen an upward trend in overall sales of contact lenses over the past year (down from 77% in 2015). Slightly fewer are optimistic when it comes to predicting how their contact lens sales will compare in the coming year, as only 57% believe there will be an increase.

Business Snapshot: General CL Market Sales

What is the current demographic of contact lens patients?

Unsurprisingly due to their sheer numbers, millennials rule. According to our survey respondents, patients aged 18-35 are fitted most often. And more than half of your peers are fitting patients younger than 12.

Marketing Strategies

How are your peers marketing their contact lens services?

In-office P.O.P. remains the most popular way, with website messaging coming in second.

Market Snapshot: What’s Selling

Take a look here to see what modalities are currently resonating the most with patients, and where your peers report they anticipate seeing growth in the next six to 12 months.

“”
“WE OFFER A PACKAGE THAT INCLUDES THE EVALUATION, A YEAR’S SUPPLY OF LENSES AND SOLUTIONS, A FREE PAIR OF TRIALS DURING THE YEAR, AND UNLIMITED CONTACT LENS-RELATED VISITS.”

—Survey respondent, on keeping contact lens sales in-house

Looking Ahead: Category Growth

Where will the category growth come from in the coming years? Our responding ECPs tells us they expect multifocal lenses to drive contact lens sales.

“”
“WE OFFER A PRICE COMPARISON SHEET OUTLINING OUR PRICING ALONG WITH ANY REBATES. OUR MAIN COMPETITOR’S PRICING IS ALSO LISTED. THAT WAY, PATIENTS CAN SEE UPFRONT THAT OUR PRICING IS COMPETITIVE. WE ALSO OFFER DIRECT SHIPPING.”

—ECP survey respondent, on competing with online contact lens vendors

Competing With Online Sellers

An overwhelming majority—92%—of survey respondents reported their sales being affected by online contact lens vendors. ECPs are working harder than ever to compete for their patients’ CL dollars. Our survey asked ECPs what they are doing to compete with online sales, and here’s what they said:

» Actively promoting manufacturer rebates

» Price matching

» Offering specialty contacts that only O.D.s can sell

» Offering home delivery

» Offering free trial lenses

» Offering discounts for a year’s supply purchase

» Allowing patients to order through ECP website

» Emphasizing the customer service that only an in-person experience can provide