Children’s Anti-Glare Lenses: An Untapped Market

How many parents today purchase non-glare, or anti-reflective lenses for their children?  If you take the time to look at kids actually wearing glasses, not very many.  Not many teenagers are wearing non-glare lenses either, which is puzzling.  Anti-glare lenses are HIGH TECH.  One would think that the generation which has the latest smart-phone would have the latest lens, but they don’t.  Why is that?

Conventional wisdom would say it’s cost.  Non-glare technology is more expensive, and parents are reluctant to pay for it.  Children outgrow their glasses.  They need them replaced more frequently.  Since the glasses won’t be worn for more than a year, why bother paying so much extra for cutting edge technology?  It will all go to waste. 

Believe it or not, at many discount optical chains, the price of anti-glare coating on children’s lenses can be as low as $20.00, yet parents still resist that little extra.  Those same parents might happily fork over $20.00 on a toy, a video game, or a fashion accessory for their child, but balk indignantly at the thought of spending it on glasses. 

Anti-glare Coating: a Want, or a Need? 

As I stated in a previous article, The Vocation of Opticianry, our job as opticians is not just to sell, make, and dispense eyewear.  Our vocation is to promote optimal vision, to help our patients embrace that better vision instead of taking it for granted.  The average patient wears their glasses only when they have to.  We want our patients to WANT the good vision their glasses give them.  What we are really selling is quality of life in the form of crisp, clear vision. 

Sadly, people tend to spend more money on their wants than on their needs.  They put off doctor visits, yet make time for vacations.  They happily purchase sodas and candies, yet balk at the price of vitamins and health food.  They’ll buy big screen TV’s yet avoid the dentist.  After all, TV doesn’t require Novacaine!  What opticians want is for our patients to being able to SEE their TV’s more comfortably without having to buy larger sets to do it. 

As opticians, we should be helping our patients view good vision as a want, not just a need.  We need better advertizing. 

Youth as Optical Customers 

The optical industry is lagging behind in our approach to our youngest patients.  We still see them more as medical patients than customers.  An they ARE.   No matter how COOL we make our spectacles, no kids are going to wear them if their vision is 20/20, and that puts them in the NEED category, not a WANT.  Even the youngsters who do desire glasses as an accessory item are few.  The parents hold the purchasing power here, and THEY see glasses as an unwanted need. 

Yet it is truly amazing what kids can get their parents to purchase for them. Children don’t need designer labels.  It isn’t necessary to spend all the extra money on NAMES, but parents do it all the time.  If junior really, really wants something chances are many moms and dads will let them have it.  The Retail World knows this.  Children, teens especially, are Big Business.  Consumer advertizing follows suit. 

So far, most of the advertizing in the optical world has been for frames.  All frames have “designer” labels now, even if those labels represent “off brand” names, rather than true designer brands. Kids who favor clothing brands can look for the same brand name for their eyeglass frames.  Opticians can match frame styles to other trends and show pictures of “famous” children wearing them. 

But what about the lenses?  The lenses are what really matters.  They are what actually CORRECT the patient’s vision.  The lenses are the medicine that the eye doctor prescribes for the child.  The frame is just the vehicle, the capsule that delivers it.  Why is it that parents don’t put the same care into buying their child’s lenses as they do the frames?  Why is it that they just don’t care?  

Advertize Anti-glare Coating.  It’s The Only Way   

Parents and children don’t care about non-glare lenses because they don’t know they are supposed to..  It’s as simple as that!  They know they are supposed to care for Team logo’s, designer handbags, athletic shoes, and the latest cell phones, but they have no idea about the various properties of lenses.  WE haven’t told them.  We haven’t made a big deal about anti-glare lenses, insurance plans don’t tend to cover them. 

What we need to do is EDUCATE our customers concerning anti-glare lenses, not just their scientific properties.  We need to make them desire the product as a want, not a need.  And we need to target the KIDS.

The trick will be to make them think it is COOL!  All it takes is creative advertizing.  Can you think of how to do that?  Stay tuned for further articles.  I have some great ideas…