Nov
2005

Andy Karp

 

Educating the ‘Educated Consumer’

I’m not a big shopper, but I’ve always enjoyed shopping at Syms, the discount clothing retail chain. Maybe it’s because I like Syms’ motto, “An educated consumer is our best customer.” I think of myself as an educated consumer and I like to believe Syms counts me among its best customers, even though I know this bit of flattery is just an advertising slogan.

In recent years, a growing number of consumers have become educated about eyewear, particularly lens products and treatments. Because so much information is available today via the Internet and other media, it’s common to have patients walk into a dispensary and request a particular brand or type of lens they have seen advertised or heard about through word-of-mouth.

It’s great that more consumers are curious about lenses and want to learn more about lenses. The more they learn, the better they can appreciate the value of what they’re buying. However, just because patients may be more educated about lens options doesn’t mean the ECPs can back away from their advisory role. No matter how well informed a patient is, or appears to be, it’s still up to the ECP to explain the benefits of each product. Don’t assume just because the patient tosses around some optical terms they know exactly what they’re talking about. For every patient who comes in asking for an anti-reflective lens there’s another who wants to buy a “photographic” (sic) lens. Even though a patient might be misinformed, the fact they are interested in a new pair of lenses presents an opportunity to truly educate them about the latest designs, materials and treatments. If a patient asks for a certain product, it’s a good idea to discuss the benefits of that product anyway just to make sure that’s what the patient really intended to buy. If it turns out that’s not what the patient wanted, the dispenser should be prepared to interpret the request and present the patient with a product that will suit their needs even better.

In either case, dispensers need to make sure their own lens knowledge is up to date if they are going to educate the “educated consumer.”

Andrew Karp, akarp@jobson.com

 

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