It hit me like a ton of bricks.

I’m hanging around the Las Vegas convention center pre-Expo West, chatting about my son’s upcoming birthday party with my friend Jamie Shyer from Zyloware. The connection here is that Gram (my son) has decided he wants a John Deere themed celebration and I am sharing that with Jamie since Zyloware has successfully marketed this lifestyle brand into an eyewear collection.

Here come the bricks.

The conversation is whirling around the joy of having children, the importance of staying in shape (in the 10 years I’ve known Jamie he has transformed himself from a pudgy kid surrounded by an intimidating heritage of optical legends into a lean, respected, leader in the eyewear arena) and the stamina needed to sustain excitement be it peddling magazines or eyeglasses when suddenly Jamie slips into a simple yet penetrating definition of what it will take to shake up the somewhat stagnant state of increasing the sales of dispensing eyewear.

“It comes down to a shift between just two words,” says Jamie. “For too many years we’ve been sending out the message that people NEED eyeglasses when what we should really be concentrating on is helping them WANT eyeglasses.”

There it is, simple yet subtle. NEED (very important of course from a medical and better vision point-of-view) and WANT (equally important in that it encompasses all those diverse elements having to do with lifestyle, fashion, quality, marketing, branding and the fact that my son is four-going-on-five and the concept of a John Deere toy and John Deere colors and John Deere paper plates and a John Deere baseball cap makes him feel good.) And not superficially good. Just plain GOOD.

Wanting something that makes you feel good is good. Improving one’s self outlook can be nearly as important as improving one’s vision. And the fact that someone can fulfill that “want” with something they actually “need” (as in eyeglasses) is a tremendously simple concept that can literally slam the frame side of this optical industry into overdrive.

Jamie’s simple objective, structured as a concerted industry effort of smart marketing and merchandising initiatives, could easily break down the wall blocking radically significant eyewear sales these last few years. In fact, I think a brick or two from that wall just hit me on the head. I’ll have Gram cart them away in his John Deere tractor.


James J. Spina