Article

True Value.

Will pandemic-beleaguered patients focus on watching their wallets in the optical? We tap three ECPs for their expert outlook on specs savings and presenting product for a new era.

Will the Covid-19 crisis rock your product price range focus in the optical?

According to the Eyecare Business Covid-19 + ECPs Focus Group Study Wave #4, a full 23% of respondents will look to bring in lower frame price points for more affordable options, with an additional 4% bringing in Medicaid-focused price points. Another 41% of respondents say it’s too soon to tell just yet if they will need to shift their pricing focus.

To take a closer look at how to successfully offer frames right now, we spoke with three eyecare professionals to see just how they are prepping their product mix post-pandemic.

PINPOINTING PRICE POINT

The pre-Covid-19 product mix at Optique in Spirit Lake, IA, featured a small value collection (approximately 10% of products), and the majority of offerings (60%) fell into a midrange price point of $150 to $175. Upper-midrange product accounted for 20% of the assortment, with a small selection (10%) of high-priced frames.

“What I anticipate now is that I will be purchasing more value products and marking frames that have enough margin—and/or have been in my inventory for some time—down into the value category in order to make sure I have a good selection of these options, and to move some inventory,” says optician Johnna Dukes, owner of Optique. “I think value eyewear is going to be a very important segment of our product mix for the next 12 to 18 months.”

NOTICE TRENDS

Alecia Barnes, O.D., owner of TrueVision Eye Care in Morrisville & Raleigh, NC, suggests ECPs wait a few months post-reopening before restructuring product offerings.

With 41% of survey respondents in the latest wave of EB’s Covid-19 + ECPs Focus Group indicating that it’s too soon to decide if they will change their plans or frame purchases regarding price points for the remainder of the year, this may be sage advice.

“Many patients are going to be eager to get into your office and get the new glasses they have been wanting,” advises Dr. Barnes. “If your frame board was working well prior to Covid-19 closures, making major changes now might not be warranted.”

PANDEMIC + PURCHASES

According to The Vision Council’s VisionWatch April 2020 Covid-19 Consumer Study, the largest segment of respondents (nearly 40%) claimed they will postpone or cancel new glasses or contact lens purchases until Covid-19-related conditions are better, while 18% said they will buy eyewear online to limit human interaction.

With this in mind, successfully presenting product in person is even more crucial for eyecare professionals right now.

So, how to find the silver lining in slower scheduling?

“Because we will be seeing patients on a reduced schedule during the first phases of reopening, there will be more time for staff to review the patient’s preferences and purchase history to make informed eyewear selections before the patient’s exam is finished,” says Jennifer Lyerly, O.D., of TrueVision Eye Care. “I’ve found that when you start a conversation with a patient and have frames prepared that you think they would look great in, they are much more likely to engage in the optical process!”

Dr. Lyerly suggests that the biggest impact Covid-19 will have on eye care is that patients will be more comfortable and more conditioned to purchase glasses and contact lenses online.

“Making our office a destination for services and experiences they can’t get with online frame shopping is the real key to success,” she says. “You can get a round tortoiseshell frame from any number of different companies right now. But can you get personally styled and see a wide selection of shapes and colors and have a knowledgeable expert educate you on why this shape works best for your face and your prescription with an online eyewear experience? That’s where our office needs to stand apart.”

TRENDING VIDEO REOPENING STRATEGIES

Click here to watch the acclaimed EB Covid-19 Strategies Series panel discussion featuring Jennifer Lyerly, O.D., and two other pro ECPs as they discuss action plans for reopening.