Eyewear – Fashion vs Function

I recently read The Vision Council’s 2011  Vision Watch Fashion vs. Function Eyewear Report and at first I was a little perplexed by its findings until I thought them through.

Ultimate Fashion without Function !

In February of 2011, 10,000 American adult consumers in the U.S. were surveyed to determine whether eyewear users and buyers value the fashion aspect or medical function of eyewear. This report gauges how consumers value the different fashion aspects of eyewear (principally Rx eyeglasses and sunglasses) in conjunction with the different medical or functional aspects of eyewear. The Vision Council believes that the results of this survey, will be helpful to its members  when developing long-term strategies for product development, marketing and customer outreach.

The reason I was at first perplexed is because the survey results strongly favor function vs fashion:

  • A large majority of eyeglass users/buyers (83%-87%) view eyeglasses primarily as a medical necessity
  • Among both eyeglass and sunglass buyers, the fit of the particular pair of eyewear on the face is the most important factor considered when making a purchase.
  • “Functional” factors such as durability, material, UV coating, and the color shade of the lens consistently outrank “fashion” factors like uniqueness, style, wardrobe compatibility and brand/designer name.
  • Only about 3.5%-7% of recent eyewear buyers claim to have been influenced by celebrities and their eyewear
  • Only 6% to 10% of eyewear buyers explicitly mentioned the “brand name” or “designer name” as one of the main decision factors in their most recent eyewear purchase

I know that The Vision Council is very thorough with their research methods so we need to take notice but does this mean that fashion and celebrity are not important? I believe it is telling us that optical consumers are pretty savvy and that they expect their eyewear to be very functional and comfortable, everything else is secondary.

Actually, it is a good reminder to remember that most optical consumers would prefer not to have eyewear so it is really important to make sure we can make everything about it better!

Example of our society's celebrity obsession our #1 Selling magazine

Celebrity and fashion aspects are a lot more suggestive than people admit in surveys. We have blogged about this – “Understanding Our Celebrity Craving…..”. Most people don’t want to admit or even realize that they are influenced by celebrity, a lot of psychology is involved in peoples’ purchasing choices. We are a celebrity obsessed culture – the top selling magazines in the U.S.A.  are Cosmopolitan and People Magazine. TV shows like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight, and a myriad of blogs such as Gossip Girl and TMZ.Com and the celebrities on which they report have captured our imagination. These days, there are more celebrity magazines than real news mags in the United States but most of us do not want others to know we are reading them! (I just sneak a peak at the checkout counter in the grocery store). Then there are the shows – Celebrity Apprentice for one!

Schiff Hardin and The Accessories Council say “It’s hard to get through an issue of WWD without reading that a celebrity has become the new face of a brand. There’s no doubting that famous people can create brand awareness and move product in a big way”

So what do we do with this information?  Know that many optical consumers will be drawn in by fashion, celebrity, merchandising and other marketing tools but you better be well informed in terms of being able to offer different options and functional features. Ultimately the optical consumer wants you to deliver all of them.

The Vision Council offers a wide variety of free and low cost marketing materials for eye care professionals. Their cards, magazines and posters help inform patients on product benefits or remind them of their next appointment. Visit the online store to order now.

 

 

 

 

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