Through My Lens

Strike up the Brand
It seems like brands are bigger than ever this year. From eyewear manufacturers to wholesalers, retailers and independent practitioners, everyone is jumping on the brandwagon in an attempt to capture consumers who are looking for that special product to complete their image or enhance their vision. And why not? Brands are fun, brands are sexy, brands mean quality, and most importantly, brands bring in the bucks.

Although frame and sunglass makers have long been experts at branding, ophthalmic lens companies have been slower to get into the game. One reason is that unlike frames and sunglasses, lenses are less accessible to consumers. For one thing, there simply are no designer lenses. Also, lenses are a more technical product, or at least they are perceived to be by most consumers. Perhaps most important, the lens sale is typically driven by the doctors or dispenser, not the consumer.

Yet consumers are becoming more lens savvy all the time. A major reason is the brand marketing that has been done over the past 10 years or so by the major lens manufacturers and retail chains. Companies such as Essilor, Transitions Optical and LensCrafters have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on consumer advertising, and it has obviously paid off in sales and customer loyalty. It has not only elevated their lens brands, but has created awareness for entire product categories such as progressives, high-index plastic, polycarbonate and A-R coating.

Though most lens manufacturers can’t afford national consumer advertising, the importance of brand marketing for lenses is undeniable.

Yet as important as branded products are, doctors and dispensers are liable to overlook some perfectly good lenses that do not have the sizzle and glitter of a hot brand name but are well worth recommending to patients. Whether it’s a progressive from a new manufacturer, an occupational lens such as a ribbon bifocal for a tractor driver or a “golfer lens” with a small “spot” round seg at the periphery for presbyopes, these are the types of lenses that could easily fall through the cracks if dispensers don’t take the time to learn about them. 

So go ahead and strike up the brand. Just don’t forget about the lesser-known lenses. They might be just the thing to fill the vision and cosmetic needs of some of your patients.

—Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology