Selling to Millennials: What the Optical Industry Needs to Consider

Selling to Millennials: What the Optical Industry Needs to ConsiderLooking to grow your business? You might want to consider focusing a portion of your selling floor to the millennials. After all, in a few years they will be the majority of the population and more of your target market.

Let’s look at how millennials, a.k.a. ‘Gen Y’, shops and buys today and what you can do to sell to them.

Let's start with a definition: people born between 1981 – 1997 who have grown up on the Internet. This represents about 75-80 million young people, nearly one quarter of the total population of America.

If you have been in the eye care business for many years, you are aware that business is done differently today. Just buying, installing and learning the new electronic health system has forced many onto a computer and using the Internet. Once you embrace the Internet and explore it, you will begin to understand the appeal of how you can find out about anything you can think of!

Gen Y walks around with the Internet at their fingertips. Whether it is a smart phone, tablet, iPad, e-book…they are always connected. They have discerning taste in brands and a socially responsible outlook. Optical dispensers look to offer lens products that appeal to their interests and lifestyle. They will be interested in a customized pair of eyeglasses they had a say creating.

The Millennial Optical Customer

Millennial consumers will have done their research on lens design, materials and AR coatings. They will still need your expertise to prescribe the right combination to match their lifestyle. Offering a full selection of choices and bright, bold fashion frame styles will lead to the sale.

When you have an area of your selling floor set up with all kinds of interesting choices and a tablet or laptop with product information for them to explore, you will have them there longer. It is best not to ‘sell them’ but to inform and educate them on the choices in a direct and concise way. Be their resource and expert, understanding that they are probably going to be texting, tweeting and sending photos of themselves in the different eyeglasses to their friends and contacts.

Use technology to your advantage. Leverage their digital savvy and their habit of using the Internet to shop to your advantage.  Put it out where they can see, touch and use it to gather information on the products you offer. Have someone always available to answer questions. Millennial staff to talk with the millennials is best, because they can relate.

Have all the bold, colorful and latest style of frames and accessories on display. Get creative to offer the ‘extras’ that others do not. Ask them for their input and what they want. Utilize the ideas and suggestions because they want to participate in the creation of your products. Their shopping experiences are not a one-size-fits-all solution based on demographics, but on the opt-in exchange of digital life-stream content.

Reaching Out to Millennials

How do you get the millennials to come into your practice or store? Traditional marketing media like magazine ads, direct mail, radio or TV spots are perceived as impersonal, company-focused and lacking real substance. This generation generally does not trust traditional advertising.

They research via blogs, forums, YouTube videos, looking through websites and utilizing social media to see what their friends and peers think about a business or product. They like sharing, liking, pinning, tweeting, snapping, forwarding and believe what comes from their peers. You must speak their language and build a real brand-consumer relationship. Your business must have a content value, informative and educational web site. It should have fun and engaging opportunities offered like a photo gallery, of your customers in their new eyeglasses and sunglasses. Have a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and whatever you can manage.

Gen Y consumers want to know that you care about the things they care about. They will support businesses that are dedicated to improving their customers’ lives and are involved in the community. Find out what organizations in your community has a lot of millennials involvement and be seen as a supporter. Get out of the office and become known as the expert who cares.

Hire and communicate with millennials and ask for their input and suggestions. Empower them to try various things and show the numbers of what things work. They like to be part of the process and a sense of being a part of the business will give you a more valuable employee.

See for Yourself

Search the Internet yourself to look for trends and new technology so that when you talk with the millennials, you are informed and viewed as the expert they can trust. With Gen-Y, as with many Internet-savvy consumers these days, It’s all about relationships. Invest in the future of your business and make some new friends. You may find out, underneath all that edgy, tech-savvy, self-confident exterior, they're not so different from other large consumer groups!


Interested in other articles about how to sell in the optical industry? Check out these other blog posts:

How to Increase Revenue in your Optical Store

Optical Sales Coach: Speak Human!


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