Through My Lens

What’s Premium?
This is my latest column, and it’s a premium column. At least I think it is. I’ve used high-quality words and correct grammar and syntax. I’ve combined them into sentences and paragraphs using my best prose style.

Yet is it really premium? The fact is, some of my columns are better than others. What’s more, other columns in this publication may be as good if not better than mine. Readers know this and I know this.

So what do I mean by premium? That’s the question I pose to lens and lens processing equipment manufacturers who routinely use and abuse this word when touting a new product.

Our industry’s obsession with premium-ness can be traced to the late ’80s, at the dawn of the Modern Spectacle Lens Era. Over the next decade, manufacturers introduced one innovative new lens after another. Progressives, high-index plastics, polycarbonates, aspherics and AR lenses became the shining stars in the new lens constellation.

Searching for superlatives to describe all these wonderful new lenses, some lens marketing person hit upon the word “premium.” Before long, it seemed as though manufacturers were labeling every new lens premium, regardless of its quality or price. Equipment suppliers were quick to elevate their own products to the premium pantheon, often adding the phrase “state-of-the-art technology” to further denote its excellence.

It’s time we called a halt to all this random premium-ness. We’ve cheapened the meaning of the word through overuse. I’m not just finger pointing; I admit to using it as indiscriminately as the next person.

I propose a moratorium until the end of the year on all optical press releases, marketing materials and news and feature articles that use the word premium to describe a product or service. Meanwhile, let’s see if we can come up with some new adjectives that connote high-quality or high-end pricing.
Premium is still a fine word and can be fairly applied to a select number of lens products and equipment. By using it with more discretion, we can preserve its power.

—Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology