Opticians seem to have the choice of so many lens companies that have multiple lens brands and those brands in turn have multiple variations which at times the opticians themselves can’t seem to keep track. And ironically, the end consumer is hardly even aware of lens brand names. Pratik Bhatt tracks this phenomenon and tells us a bit about why there’s still a need for a lens brand.
If the answer to the question ‘Do we really need another lens brand’ was NO, I would probably never have started my own boutique lens brand! So the question put out to me has a pretty obvious answer. However I am sure you are curious to know why someone from outside of the industry saw a gap that was not being filled up by the existing myriad of brands.
Let me explain what my findings were from the study we conducted.
The primary reason for any new brand in the market is to provide new value. And this new value addition is universal… it exists in every industry and not just for the optical industry. And that’s why there're so many new tech startups in every industry that you can see are disrupting the current status quo.
The primary aim is to satisfy the customer’s needs which is not being met in the current scenario. And this has to be done by continuous improvements in systems to that even the newer challenges that come up are resolved.
The primary need I felt was that opticians needed a brand that provided down-to earth prices but without compromising on quality standards. The mindset that quality exists but it will always come with a price was so ingrained that the industry didn’t seem to see this gap. As an outsider to me it was a very obvious need of the optician as well as the end consumer.
So providing a newer brand with a new ecosystem and innovation would help opticians differentiate themselves and also help foster a competitive advantage as it allows to build better products and helps relationships which is very important in the optical business.
Although the covid era was not there a couple of years ago when I created the brand, this phase has brought to the fore, even more strongly the need for an economically priced brand. We see many structural changes happening around the market. The consumers with fallen income due to the high impact of lockdown are now looking for mid segment options along with the quality of the product.
There is certainly a space available for those players who can offer both Quality as well as reasonable pricing along with good services and variations available to them.
Why does the optician need a new lens brand?
The simple answer to that is ‘exclusivity’. Everyone has been told that they need to differentiate themselves but how does an optician attempt to differentiate if all brand are available everywhere. This exclusivity factor is a critical need that a lens brand should meet. Providing access to only a limited pool might seem as being partial but it’s not. If a brand needs to do justice to its customers it has to position itself in such a way that it’s not available at every nook and corner. So this provides the optician a sense of exclusivity which in turn makes him stronger.
Of course, a new brand would have to offer exclusivity with quality, dependability and other requirements as mentioned below
- Reasonable Margins to Opticians
- Good offline and online presence with a robust marketing strategy
- Technical Training
- Product Variations
- Keeping it Simple
- Better Technology Ecosystem.
A pocket friendly price to the end consumer and a reasonable margin for the opticians is a win-win situation. And even though this might seem like a simple thing, this gap did exist.
Good offline and online presence with a robust marketing strategy
Normally it’s easier to sell a product or brand if the brand has a robust marketing strategy which would build confidence in the optician as well as the end consumer. The reasonably priced brands normally could not offer some sort of personalised marketing support. But this is possible today with technology and the shift of marketing support growing more and more digital.
Specialty training was almost always provided by the premium brands. So a newer brand would need to have a strong training team and also for technical support without expecting opticians to sell only expensive products.
If a new lens brand could become a one stop solution for the opticians with all types of lenses it would have a magnifying effect in the market for the new brand. This would help the brand as well as the optician.
Keeping it simple
Since many brands are available in the market today with different products and prices a relatively new brand can work on a simpler format for the ease of understanding for the optician and their staff with simple menus and simple names to choose from to get their hands relatively faster on a new brand which otherwise is difficult.
Better Technology Ecosystem
If a new lens brand can offer better technologies at a competing price by creating an ecosystem for the optician, the brand could certainly have an edge to enter the market.
I hope I have been able to answer the question put forward to me. And in the current ever-changing scenario, having an open mind and being open to newer experiences is something I feel the industry needs most.
-- Pratik Bhatt