Reach for Excellence

Market Opportunity: Rx Sunwear is Growing Fast

Sept. 28, 2016

You have an opportunity to increase the education you provide to patients about the value of prescription sunwear, and possibly sell more as a result. Prescription sunwear represented just 6-10 percent of all prescriptions written in the practice for 36 percent of independent practices responding to Jobson Optical Research’s 2016 Premium Lenses MarketPulse report. Twenty-four percent of respondents said Rx sunwear represents 11-15 percent of all prescriptions written, and 22 percent said it represented 5 percent or less. Fourteen percent said prescription sunwear represented 16-20 percent of all prescriptions written, and 5 percent said it represented 20 percent or more.

Click HERE to purchase Jobson Optical Research’s 2016 Premium Lenses MarketPulse report.

If there is any portion of the average practice that screams out for improvement, it is prescription sunwear sales. The numbers are revealing. Only 5 percent of independent practices sell sunglasses at a rate of 20 percent or more of all prescriptions.

If we believe that patients should have outdoor eyewear to protect their eyes from the harmful rays of the sun, to be safer on the road when driving, and to be more comfortable when in bright, glaring light, then closer to 100 percent of all our patients should have high-quality sunwear. These Jobson numbers should concern us. We aren’t even close to the numbers where we should be.
Numbers reported by practices in surveys such the one cited above by Jobson tend to be higher than numbers reported by optical laboratory actual sales reports. So, if the Jobson numbers are “best case” numbers, then we really have a lot of work to do. The conclusion from these numbers is there is great opportunity to be had by putting attention on sunglass sales in most practices.
So let’s get to it. Let’s take this week to put attention on improving our sunglass sales. Here are seven steps that would improve our sunwear sales numbers.
1) Use the physical presence of the practice to preset patients to purchase high-quality sunwear by explaining sunwear benefits through visual media. The four core messages are protection from the harmful light of the sun, safety when driving, comfort from glare and fashion.

Here is an example of an image I found conducting a search on Bing for “Protection from the harmful light of the sun”:

And here is an image that came to the screen when I searched Bing for “Glare when driving at daytime.” This kind of image can be enhanced by adding a caption that advises: “Keep yourself and your loved ones safe when driving by wearing the right kind of sunwear. We can help.”

You can create graphics in the same spirit to share with your patients, or call these pages to the screen of a tablet when working with patients in the exam room or optical.

2) Doctors need to prescribe sunwear in the exam room. Most patients will do what the doctor tells them to do especially when the doctor gives a clear reason why sunwear is being prescribed for them. Opticans tell us that it makes their job much easier in the optical when the doctor prescribes in the exam room rather than just recommending or suggesting.

3) Sunwear in the optical needs to be merchandised. The number one question in the patient’s mind when entering your optical is “Can I find here what I need?” If your frame boards look the same this year as they did last year … and the year before … and the year before … and the year before, then the patient is bored with your optical. Change things up. Make it look different. If you have a sunglass frame board stuck over in the corner, this year run a ribbon of frames across all frame boards at eye height. Put up signage that shows that you have sunglasses from companies that patients recognize. Make it easy for patients to answer that most important question in the positive.

4) You most show enough product to give the impression that you are serious about sunglasses. You can accomplish this by making sure that a minimum of 20-25 percent of your frame board is comprised of sunglasses. You can increase this impression by getting vinyl stick-ons for your clear lens frames that say: “This frame can be made into sunglasses.”

5) Opticians need to demonstrate (not just explain) the difference between sun lenses that just darken versus polarized sunwear. Patients need to see the difference between darkening sun lenses and polarized sun lenses.

6) Sunwear needs to be presented to patients in the optical before dress eyewear. The order in which prescriptions are presented to patients matters. When dress eyewear is presented first, sales of sunglasses decreases. When sunglasses are presented first, sunglass sales increase.

7) Make it easy for the patient to pay. In today’s world, there are more options than just cash, check and credit cards. PayPal and CareCredit are two other options patients can use in your practice to pay their bills.

Implement these seven steps to increase your sunglass sales, which will improve the quality of your patients’ lives by giving them outdoor protection from the harmful rays of the sun, increased comfort from disabling glare, increased safety during daytime driving and a improved stylized look.


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