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As the world economy struggles under the fury of this deadly malady, let’s see how the eyewear industry can best deal with this situation.
As a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, billions of dollars have been lost in halted trade transactions. Nations worldwide are grappling to stymie the tide of Coronavirus through discontinued or limited goods exchange.
In the eyewear industry, practically all major trade events since February 2020 have been postponed or called off. These include MIDO, Vision Expo East, Malaysian Optical Fair, SIOF, DIOPS and Cairo International Optical Exhibition to name a few across the world.
Even our own VisionPlus Awards Arabia 2020 event has been rescheduled, even though voting for the MENA region by ECP’s continues online.
The tough times that the world is facing today is also raising questions at all levels on where the nations are heading. Prediction of deep recession and negative growth is what we hear from economists. The dependence on what the respective governments do for their people is the crucial aspect for the success or the failure of the economies.
At a time like this, it’s crucial that every industry tries to proactively take steps that can help their business grow while constructively helping the society at large get back on its feet. Undoubtedly. every company will have to change its style of business to suit the time and situation.
The optical industry will have its own problems post lockdown. Yet, while all this is happening around, is there an opportunity for the business? Can the manufacturing community, brand owners and distributors, retailers and the eye care professionals working at different levels, reinvent and think anew with their experience and skill and move towards normalcy?
Opticians will have a tough time handling their customers as it may need enough or rather extra care in the use of instruments while attending to eye check ups. How much would be the need for using masks and sanitisation process during the first two three months is at this moment anybody’s guess. Keeping distance between the sales personnel and customers and between customer and customer is a huge responsibility of the store management.
If this is the case of opticians, even the customers behaviour will also be different from the normal times. First and foremost the buying power that has dropped down because of the slowdown and rise in unemployment will have a big effect on the buying style of almost all customers. Price factor will play a bigger role in the buying pattern than at any time in the past.
A five-point futuristic plan of action for the retail segment
There seems, according to some minds in the business, a possibility of emerging five new segments of customers and eyewear demands –
- Eye Mask:
Protective eyewear which will be worn like an eye mask which might go on to become a trend in daily eyewear. We are given to understand that some models in this new category are already being sold in certain countries.
- Computer Readers (a new progressive category):
People complaining of Computer Vision Syndrome will definitely increase in the coming days due to constant use of digital devices at home. Because of the eyestrain, one is bound to keep touching the eyes to get some relief, which is not very wise in the current scenario. Therefore Computer Readers, with reading prescription and an intermediate distance progressive should be recommended as a standard eyewear for most adults to avoid and minimise hand eye contact.
- Blue Cut lens for children:
Ever since e-learning has come into play, children have been forced to use electronic devices like laptops and ipads all through the day for around 7-8 hours at a stretch. Children too are subjected to eye strain due to the constant use of digital devices, and therefore the vision protective glasses with blue cut lenses which were so far restricted to adults, might now need to be recommended to children as well. So practitioners might need to educate the parents about this segment of eyewear.
- Sunglasses as eye care products:
The opticians need to recommend sunglasses to all their customers as eye care products in addition to fashion. This could potentially increase the sale of eyewear.
- Sunglasses/ eyewear with matching face masks as accessories:
Since face masks, gloves will be used more often, it would be better to sell them as accessories along with eyewear, and sell it as part of your eyewear gear. Better still, package the product not just with the cleaning cloth, but also a face mask subtly carrying the eyewear logo and make it a fashion statement. By doing that you are trying to emphasize that your eyewear is a protective gear too, like the mask, and you need to use both in your day to day life, when you travel, etc.
So now it’s more in the hands of the individual optician to make the best of his own experience and to reinvent himself as a retailer. Also there’s a need today for all the opticians to promote themselves in whichever way possible. Social media should be a good source for this but seeking professional guidance for this from media experts should benefit better.