Insights From Our Editors

Market Opportunity: Key in to Specific Activities to Sell More Sports Sunwear

Dec. 9, 2015

You have an opportunity to educate patients about the benefits of sunwear designed especially for sports, findings from the 2015 Vision Council Sports Sunglass Report suggest. Less than 15 percent of respondents said they had purchased sunglasses or goggles specifically to be used for sports activities. Younger respondents and male respondents were more likely than older respondents and females to have ever purchased sports sunglasses.Nearly 20 percent of youngeradults and 22.1 percent of men had purchased sports sunglasses, while only 10.1 percent of olderadults and 8.1 percent of women had.

Looking at the average eyecare practice, sunwear is an under-served area that needs to be addressed. The 2015 Vision Council Sports Sunglass Report gives us a clear picture of the opportunity that exists in providing sunwear to our patients. Only approximately 20 percent, or less, of people had purchased either sunglasses or goggles specifically to be used for sports activities. Go to any sporting event and the lack of sunglasses is evident by looking at those playing the sport, as well as the spectators.
OK, we recognize the need, but how do we get our patients to actually purchase sunwear?
It all starts by identifying what sports our patients are engaged in. David Ziegler, OD, on his practice web site, asks his patients to identify the type of sports they engage in, and then, he recommends lenses that would improve their performance. He divides outdoor sports into two categories: Fitness Activities and Great Outdoors.

We should all learn from Dr. Ziegler. Knowing what activities our patients engage in helps us to better prescribe solutions that enable them to have a better life experience. Create a way to find out the activities your patients are engaged in beyond just running, basketball and tennis.
Next, we need to refine how sunglasses are presented to patients by focusing on what’s in it for them. We want to present sunglasses to patients in the most effective way. The three most important issues with polarized sunwear for outdoor sports that should be presented to patients are: (1) safety from small, fast moving objects (i.e.: you only get two eyes, and one is not a spare), (2) protection from the harmful UV and blue light from the sun (i.e.: macular degeneration is the number one cause of vision loss over age 50) and (3) clarity of vision – no distractions from brightness or glare, therefore, improved reaction time and accuracy.
Taking it beyond just sports, there are three additional important issues to present to patients because most people will wear sunwear for more than just sports:
1) Safety when driving: Polarized lenses improve reaction time responses over sunglasses that just darken.
2) Comfort: You feel better when your eyes are relaxed and not straining.
3) Cosmetic: Both fashion and crows-feet are cosmetic issues. We want you to look great (yes, that pun was intended).
In the exam room and in the optical we need to prescribe sunglass or tint solutions to help our patients improve their performance. Depending on the sport, different lens tints may enhance their sport performance. Don Teig, OD, gives helpful advice in his ROB article: Develop a Specialty: Tinted Sportswear Lenses for Individual Sports. Dr. Teig recommends:
For Clay Pigeon Shooting
• On a bright sunny day with trees in the background: Vermillion (red-purple) tint
• On a sunny day with clear blue sky in background: Orange-Brown tint

For Water Sports: Polarized sunwear in standard Brown or Gray tint

For Hazy Conditions for Full-Day Hikes: Yellow tint
For Long Distance Drivers: Mirrored Lenses
For Sports in Frequently Overcast, Cloudy Conditions: Clear Lens with Glare-Free Treatment

Mark Hinton, author of the ROB article, 15 Tips for Winter Sunwear Sales Strategy, offers tips that can be used year round to help our patients purchase sunwear. Here are three of his tips:
1) Do not ask if the patient would be interested in sunglasses. Ask if … sun eye damage information would be beneficial for their consideration.
2) Develop a sun effect fact sheet for a tangible takeaway and hand it to your patient with the gift certificate, or e-mail to your patient, with an explanation of the importance.
3) You must have a plano sun line you can retail for $99 and sell for $49.50 (you mark the sunglasses at $99, but make the patient feel they are getting a deal by marking down to $49.50) to your contact lenses patients (whether they buy a yearly supply or not). They’re going to buy sunglasses somewhere, within about 72 hours, and you’ll want to incentivize them to buy from you. Jobson research indicates that contact lens wearers want to spend less than $50 for their first pair of plano sunglasses. When you sell them the first pair, you may sell them up to your premium sun, but you reduce the opportunity when they don’t have “choice.”
Take this week to improve your sunwear sales for professional, amateur and weekend sport warriors by taking these four steps:
1) Create a tool to help identify what sports our patients are engaged in.
2) Review how sunglasses are presented to patients focusing on what’s in it for them.
3) Prescribe sunglass or tint solutions to help improve performance.
4) Utilize some, or all, of Mark Hinton’s tips.
But don’t stop there, every patient coming into the practice could benefit from professionally prescribed polarized sunwear.

 

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