Communicating the Benefits of AR Coatings

By Bill Markham
Anyone who knows AR lenses understands their true benefits. But those who are in the business of selling the product don’t always know how to communicate those benefits to the end user – the consumer.

As a result, AR lens penetration rates in other parts of the world far exceed the numbers for the United States. While Japan shows a penetration rate of 99 percent, Western Europe of 75 percent and Canada shows 50 percent the United States shows only about 28.5 percent penetration. As wholesale labs delivering AR lenses, we can look at this as either a failure on our part to sell or as an opportunity to make 2008 the best year ever for AR lens sales.

We can continue to analyze why we aren’t selling AR lenses at the rate other countries do, or we can try to simplify the sales process. By breaking the AR lens sales process down into three major categories, wholesale labs and ECPs will both benefit in 2008. It’s as simple as these three keys: know your consumer, know your ECP, and know your product.

Know your Consumer

Communication: A recent survey of eyewear consumers shows that while 60 percent have a desire to purchase an AR lens, there is only a 28.5 percent AR lens penetration. Many consumers have never been offered AR lenses. The consumers need to be offered the features and benefits of AR lenses.

Value Driven Consumers: 62 percent of the consumers without AR lenses are in the “value driven” category – price is a significant factor in their purchase habits. The Value AR lenses make full sense to these patients. The EPC should offer two levels of AR lenses: a premium AR lens and a value brand of AR lenses. While a value brand can be a lower price option, it should not compromise performance or quality. Remember, 98 percent of patients wearing AR lenses will buy it again and the second time purchase is a chance to upgrade to a premium AR lens.

Consumer Perceptions: The same consumer survey states the following consumer perceptions, ranked from highest to lowest: value, quality, service, level of need, convenience, and price. Level of Need greatly affects the consumer’s perception of Value. By explaining the features and benefits of AR lenses, you will be able to create a level of need that will allow an AR lens to virtually sell itself.

Know your ECP

Professional Recommendations Lead to Sales: Optometrists and ophthalmologists carry a high degree of credibility with their patients. This trust creates an excellent opportunity for ECPs to recommend AR lenses, based on factors including improved vision, cosmetic appearance, and better nighttime driving. A professional recommendation carries weight with the consumer and leads to sales. It also makes the optician’s job to sell an AR lens much easier.

A recent survey showed 53 percent of respondents stated a doctor recommendation was the key factor that most influenced consumer purchases of eyewear. Another very important tool is for EPC staff to wear AR lenses at all times while at work. There is no better way to display an AR lens than to wear them.

Know your Product

Benefits of AR lenses: Labs know the specific benefits of AR lenses. These benefits are always important to be communicated to the ECP. The basic feature is that an AR lens will reduce the normal lens reflections to about 1 percent. The benefit from this reduction is sharper, clearer vision based on additional light transmission, reduced ghost images, better night vision and last but not least, a better cosmetic appearance of the eye glass wearer.

Average AR Lens Cost per Month: The average consumer wears a pair of eyeglasses for twenty-five months. If the consumer pays an additional $125 for AR lenses, this equates to about $5.00 per month or $.16 per day for a quality AR coating. This is a very small price to pay for improved vision, cosmetic appearance, and better nighttime driving. Many people spend this much for their daily cup of coffee. Breaking down the cost for consumers can help them justify the purchase. And it’s already been shown that a consumer who has AR lenses will purchase AR on their next pair.

Bundling AR: With all the complexity of modern life, consumers value simplicity. In the '90s, fast food restaurants capitalized on the bundling of products with the “Value Meals” menus. While each part of the bundle is available by itself or as a part of the bundle, the actual bundle is less expensive than the sum of its parts. In the same way, a lens and AR coating can be bundled together to bring a “value” product to the consumer. An additional benefit is that bundling takes the pressure off the optician to “sell” AR coatings; if the lens automatically comes with AR, there’s nothing to sell. At a minimum, all premium lenses should come bundled with AR coatings.

The opportunity to make 2008 an AR lens-successful year is evident and proven. By substantially increasing your ECP’s AR lens sales, you will see success both for your ECPs and for your lab.

This article was written by Bill Markham, a member of the VCA AR Committee

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May/June LabTalk 2017