What You Need to Know About Colored Polarized Lenses

By Eric Lundquist
It used to be simple. Gray and Brown. That was all you needed for a successful polarized business. In fact, Brown and Gray were the only two colors available. Not so today. The polarized lens market has experienced dramatic growth over the past 10 years. In 1996 polarized lenses represented one to two percent of the lens market. The current market for polarized lenses is five to seven percent, and growing. With this growth has come a major expansion of available colors. There are currently 17 unique polarized color choices, with more on the way. Are all these colors needed? Is there enough demand? Is there a real benefit to offering a variety of colors? Polarized lens colors simply represent an opportunity; an opportunity to differentiate your lab business, to increase sales and profits and to equip eye care professionals with the ability to serve the needs of their patients. The opportunity is there but making the most if it may take some time and effort.

Understanding Colors

The first and most important and step for a laboratory in taking advantage of the opportunity in polarized colors, is to understand what colors are available and to share that information with staff and customers. I conducted an informal survey at an optical trade show. The question poised to ECPs… “How many polarized color choices are available?” The most common answer was three to four colors. When the ECPs were told the correct answer, most were surprised and many were upset that their wholesale lab hadn’t informed them about the availability of these products. I recently surveyed a number of labs that were successful at selling a variety of polarized colors to find out their secret for success.

Charles Rouse, Aspen Optical had this to say, “I know what is available and my customers consider me a resource on this subject. They call me when they have a question. I keep updated by reading the Lens Product Guide (Frames Data) when it comes out.” Becoming an expert on polarized color availability will differentiate you from competitors and your customers will look to you as a resource for premium sunwear.

Listing Colors

This may seem like a basic step in the process, but this is an area that is neglected by many labs. In order to simplify, labs often leave polarized colors out of the availability and price lists. Listing polarized colors tells the customers you are committed to the polarized lens category and are a full service lab in all areas of their business. When polarized colors are not addressed in the lab price lists, the lab risks over or under charging for the polarized colors. Over charging will discourage sales and under charging can harm profitability. Listing polarized colors in the price and availability lists gives the ECP all they need to know in order to offer and dispense polarized lenses to their patients in a wide variety of colors.

Promoting Colors

Taking these first two steps will go along way toward producing additional polarized lens sales. For those labs that want to make the most of the polarized color opportunity, you will need to spend some time on promotion. Labs who want to promote polarized lenses should train their sales force on polarized color options and make it one of the priority subjects for their visits with customers. Another key to promotion is to offer polarized color samples and display kits. A number of polarized lens manufacturers offer polarized color display kits. In order to test the effectiveness of this approach, my company recently placed a number of polarized color displays in 100 key locations. The average increase in polarized sales was 75 percent in the first 3 months, but a number of accounts performed well above that average. ECPs have a difficult time explaining colors to patients. Having color samples on hand makes selling polarized colors easier and more effective.

There is a strange phenomenon that happens when you make polarized colors a priority. Labs who promote polarized colors sell more standard color polarized lenses as well and are the most successful in developing their overall polarized lens business.

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August/September LabTalk 2017