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New Survey Findings: How Many Shoppers Buy Optical Products In-Store?

Senior couple shopping for eyeglasses in optometry shop

Photo credit: Getty Images

Insights into how your patients prefer to buy the products you sell. 

March 27, 2024

The Vision Council released “Focused inSights 2024: Online vs. In-Person Purchase Patterns,” which offers a comprehensive examination of consumer shopping habits for eyeglasses, contact lenses, sunglasses and readers. The report details online and in-person buying trends, providing valuable insights for a variety of optical businesses.

“In today’s digital age, the options that consumers have to shop for eyewear is constantly evolving, and we’re pleased to offer this comparative analysis of optical product purchasing patterns in our latest Focused inSights Research Report,” says Alysse Henkel, Vice President, Research and inSights at The Vision Council. “Understanding the nuances between online and in-person buying habits is crucial for businesses looking to stay ahead in the competitive landscape.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • While online purchasing continues to trend upwards, overall, the large majority of optical product purchases are made in-person.
  • Prescription eyeglasses maintain the most likely to be purchased in-person at 85 percent, with non-prescription reading glasses and sunglasses following closely at 79 percent and 77 percent, respectively.
  • Contact lenses purchases are still most likely to be made in-person but have the highest online purchase rate of 37 percent out of the segments surveyed.
  • Online purchasers are more likely to buy multiple pairs of prescription glasses, nonprescription reading glasses and non-prescription sunglasses.
  • Online eyewear purchase rates have held steady across prescription and nonprescription optical products over the last two years.

The report also explores consumers’ use of FSA/HSA benefits, captures net promoter scores, and compares out-of-pocket spending.

FSA and HSA Use:

  • Consumers who purchase optical products in-person are more likely to use their FSA or HSA benefits.
  • Overall use of FSA and HSA accounts to purchase glasses or contacts declined from 2022 to 2023 both online and in-person.

Net Promoter Scores:

  • Consumers who buy glasses online are more inclined to recommend their retailer to others than those who purchase glasses in-store are to recommend their retailer or optical practice.
  • However, consumers who bought their contact lenses in-person are more likely to recommend their retailer or optical practice than those who purchase contacts online.

Out-of-Pocket Spend Comparisons:

  • Consumers who purchase their eyeglasses in-person are more likely to spend more out-of-pocket.
  • However, consumers who purchase their non-prescription sunglasses online spend more, on average, compared to their in-person shoppers.

A summary, along with the full research report, is available in The Vision Council’s Research Download Centeras a complimentary download for members of The Vision Council, with a paid option for non-members.

This survey is based on data collected between January 2022 and December 2023, among a nationally representative online sample of 121,288 U.S. adults.

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