Reach for Excellence

Merchandising Insight: How Patients Choose Sports Sunwear

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

The quality of the lens, and its ability to enhance performance, often takes a back seat to how a pair of sports sunwear looks, findings from The 2016 Vision Council VisionWatch Sports Sunglass Report suggest. Respondents to the survey, which was used to create the report, mostly chose lens color based on how much they liked the look of the color (38.3 percent).

The look of the color was a strong determining factor among men, adults under the age of 45 years old and sunglass buyers from relatively lower-income households.“The lens color/tint helps block glare so I can perform better” was chosen by 33.2 percent of respondents. Blocking glare and improving performance were relatively stronger influential factors among adults over the age of 45, adults from relatively higher-income households and adults who participate in winter sports activities.

How can we help more of our patients to get sun lenses that improve their performance and look good? Patient education is essential to this process. Education is the right place to start. Look around your practice. Make a list of the tools and resources you use to help educate your patients.

Do you have signage in your optical addressing the following questions: What are the different types of sunglasses, What are different sunglass lens features, What sunglass lens color is best for me, Do I need a sunglass lens coating, and Which sunglass lens material is best for me?

Here is a helpful web site,  Sunglasses: How to Choose, that gives you great ideas on how to answer those questions.

Patients want to see the lens colors that are available and understand the features and benefits–especially the benefits. Here’s a helpful chart that gives the features and benefits of different lens colors.

Patients also want to look through the lens before purchasing. Do you have lens samples for patients to use? Is the sample set tucked away in a drawer, or is it out encouraging patients to try different colors? (By the way, do the samples look clean and fresh, or is it time to re-order a new sample set?)

People want to know what others are wearing. The 2016 Vision Council VisionWatch Sports Sunglass Report gives us valuable information to help us answer this question.

Amber was the most common color after gray for winter sports.

Two additional pieces of good news from the 2016 Vision Council VisionWatch Sports Sunglass Report is that 73.3 percent of people stated they primarily use sunglasses when participating in sports and 72.6 percent said their sunglasses were polarized. This data says that we need to make sure we are asking our patients of all ages about their participation in sports and if their sun lenses are polarized. Gathering this information in the patient history opens the door to a discussion of sun lenses with all of our patients.

But don’t stop at just education. Patients want more than just education, they want your recommendation. Which lens color is going to perform the best for them for the activities they enjoy the most? Prescribe sun lenses for your patient, and watch your sun lens sales increase.

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