DO YOU OFFER “HAPPY MEALS?”

By Julie Bos

Video game companies do it, fast-food restaurants, too. Plenty of companies offer product bundles in one form or another. That’s because sales can soar when consumers can buy multiple products bundled together in one package at a bargain price…aka the “Happy Meal.” 

And what’s not to like? At McDonalds, people appreciate deals where they can purchase burgers, fries and drinks cheaper in a bundle (called an Extra Value Meal), for cheaper than the items would cost if purchased individually.

Product bundles are common in other business-to-consumer markets, too. Think phone-internet-cable combos, all-inclusive vacation packages and even Microsoft software bundles that combine Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote programs together in one package for more simplicity (and lower pricing).

The same thinking applies to product bundles in the optical market, often involving frames, lenses, coatings, children’s lenses, sunwear and other accessories, all for one low price. It just makes sense, especially when selling products, add-ons and accessories that customers would not normally buy outside the bundle. This strategy can increase the total profit gained from each customer even if the profit margin on each item sold in the bundle is lower than if they had been sold separately.

 It’s a win-win. Customers get more of what they need or want (for less money) and labs enjoy higher sales and profits, while moving more inventory and preventing customers from purchasing those same items elsewhere at a later date (or in many cases, not at all).

What Do Labs Say?

“We’ve had some good successes with several different types of product bundles,” said Bill Heffner, marketing director at FEA Industries. “Much of our success comes from having several different bundles that can cater to different markets. All of our customers are different in terms of the clientele they serve, their locations and the products they offer, so we need to offer a number of different options in order to appeal to everyone.”

For FEA Industries, several bundle combinations have proven to be exceptionally popular. The first is a pairing of Younger NuPolar polarized lenses with the company’s own Independence Mirror anti-reflective coating and Eagle free-form lenses. According to Heffner, this bundle provides customers a great choice for sunwear that’s backed by a lifetime scratch warranty.

 Why is this mirror bundle a hit? According to Heffner, there are several reasons. First, mirrored sunglasses are a very popular item amongst today’s consumers. And secondly, the lab offers excellent turnaround. Many labs can’t do mirror coating; or if they do, the process takes a week or two because they batch lenses of the same color mirror to save money. FEA Industries can process these more quickly to get the job out, and with the Independence name behind it, customers can be sure they’re getting a great mirror-coated product that they won’t need to worry about scratching.

This lab’s second most popular bundle is a combination of Transitions Signature VII with FEA Industries’ Eagle free-form progressive lenses. To further sweeten the deal, the lab recently included a free upgrade to either Brown or Green. This package works well because pairing with free-form makes the product much easier to access since there aren’t as many restrictions with lens material and availability, compared to traditional progressive lenses (especially in non-standard colors).

 Of course, other labs offer different bundles tailored for more specific customers. iCoat Company, for example, focuses on the sports market.

“We’ve had some great success with bundling lens and coating options, especially in the sport/performance market,” said Tom Pfeiffer, director of sales and marketing. “The most popular combinations are those with digitally surfaced, polarized lenses with mirror, AR and anti-fog coatings. The combination of these particular lenses and options provides a great pair of glasses for the sport enthusiast, athlete or adventure seeker.”  

Product Bundling: What’s In It for Patients?

According to Heffner, bundling helps make lens options more affordable.

“We’re trying to help overcome the sticker shock that can arise when patients find out their lens price just tripled by choosing a plastic lens, adding on high index, Transitions, AR coating and other features,” he said. “By bundling these options together we can make them more affordable and more popular.”

Pfeiffer agrees, stating that patients get the combination of the best possible options, handpicked by experienced optical staff. Plus, they receive discounted bundle pricing, compared to buying these options separately.

What’s In It for ECPs?

For ECPs, product bundling makes it easy to offer a wider array of product options, while making the entire ordering process easier.

“There are many lens options for coatings and treatments that do similar things,” explained Heffner. “By having certain items packaged together, it can make it easier for ECPs to choose what they want to offer in their practice. It also makes it easier for them to plan out their own promotions and try to generate more business. Bundling should be viewed as a way to generate more business, not just as a discount on lenses you were buying anyway.”

According to John Seegers, owner of OpticianWorks.com, product bundling is valuable for being able to provide a pair of glasses to a patient that might otherwise simply walk away with their Rx in hand.

 We also use product bundles to offer a complete pair for ‘cash’ (no insurance involved) for almost half of what a board frame alone would cost,” he said.

The shop where Seegers works offers four different packages, including SV CR-39, SV Poly, SV CR-39 Suns (solid tint) and a lined bifocal CR-39. Patients pay $130 for each complete bundled pair, compared to an individually priced board frame alone, which would start at $222.

What’s In It for Labs?

“With product bundles, our lab gets to choose what we want to sell,” said Heffner. “I can work with manufacturers to help promote new products, or to run promotions on other products. It also means that I can buy in bulk so that I can offer lower prices.”

Another good motivator for labs is the opportunity to switch customers from traditional progressives to  free-form lenses.

“Free-form tends to perform better, have quicker turn-around and better availability than traditional progressives,” said Heffner. “By crafting bundles that are specific to free-form, it helps achieve this goal, as well as giving the ECP and customer a better product. When bundling free-form with a photochromic or polarized lens  option, it becomes easier to be cheaper than traditional  progressives, which makes these options suddenly  very affordable.”

Likewise, iCoat Company appreciates the fact that customized bundles often involve higher-end products, higher-end sales and, therefore, higher profitability overall for the lab. Since this company’s specialty is optical coatings, all of its bundling offers include Stainless or Aura AR, ICE mirror coatings, DHC scratch coating and/or no-fog coatings, as well as certain premium features, such as polarization and Transitions.

Switch It Up: Consider a Limited-time Bundle

Just because you create a product bundle, doesn’t mean you need to offer it forever.  In fact, FEA Industries has found success by varying the bundles being promoted— usually offering something different every  three months.

“This allows us to focus on one particular bundle at a time, and gives all of our customers some variety in the products  we bundle together,” said Heffner.

 

 


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May/June LabTalk 2017