Straight Talk

Looking to attract a younger patient base? One highly respected generational expert lays out 4 strategies for selling to millennial and Gen Z consumers

By Stephanie K. De Long

Jason Dorsey is a passionate researcher, engaging speaker, and deep-diving generational expert. He is also founder and president of The Center for Generational Kinetics, a millennials and Gen Z research, consulting, and speaking firm based in Austin, TX. It works with more than 180 clients each year.

Dorsey has partnered with Transitions Optical to survey and spot generational optical shopping behaviors and purchasing influences, and growth opportunities, primarily with millennial consumers.

Here, he shares some of those findings, along with other millennial morsels, about that generation’s decision points in optical purchasing. He also opens up about some of his insights into the up-and-coming Gen Z consumer group.

For those who get confused with the generational alphabet, those covered here are:

Gen Z: Born after 1997

Gen Y: Born 1981-1997

Gen X: Born 1965-1980

Baby boomers: Born 1946-1964

TIP #1

Shop ’n’ Drop

Millennials are more likely than older generations to find that “shopping for eyeglasses is an enjoyable or easy experience.”


59% of millennials enjoy the experience, compared with only 54% of Gen Xers and 42% of baby boomers. What would make it even better for millennials? 51% say clear and upfront costs, while 48% cite frame selection. When it comes to the experience, it’s all emotional…that is, “how I experience what you’re creating for me.”

TIP #2


It was a surprise in the research to see how important the ECP is when it comes to making the final purchasing decision. That was not expected.


The eyecare professional was found to be even more influential than a spouse or significant other. That underscores the prominent role of the ECP in making recommendations or presenting options.

It’s important to recognize and respect that power and influence you have. And, especially, to use it in a very customer/patient-focused way.

TIP #3

The Value of Value

With Gen Z in particular, we’re going to see movement in the opposite direction of millennials when it comes to spending on themselves. We find they really want value.


Gen Z says, “I either want to get a good deal or, if I pay a premium price, I want to know it’s going to last a long time.”

That’s different from the millennial attitude about the importance of “accessible luxury” and the “just put it on a credit card” mindset. The pendulum has swung, so the messaging from ECPs needs to follow.

TIP #4

The Branding of Z

It’s important to remember when it comes to eyewear that Gen Z is the most photographed generation in history. They’re constantly taking photos of themselves or other people are taking them. So, we see that eyewear has become a real symbol of their personal brand.


Having multiple pairs is much more important to Gen Z than having just one designer pair. When you’re on Instagram or Snapchat many times a day, one pair would be like wearing the same shirt in every photo. So, there’s a real pressure to have a variety of product and personality, along with Gen Z’s need to get a good deal.

These two trends—value and variety—could pose a big change in terms of how people need to think about innovation, pricing, and merchandising going forward in the eyewear category.


Jason Dorsey wrote his first best-selling book at age 18, and his pace hasn’t slowed since. Dorsey, a millennial, lives in Austin, TX, with his Gen X wife and Gen Z daughter. When he’s not working, he’s probably drinking coffee and thinking about his next book.