MATCHMAKING: HELPING PATIENTS FIND THE RIGHT SUN BRAND

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Brand-image-focused displays like this one for Safilo’s Marc Jacobs, at Kentucky Eye Care in Louisville, KY, are effective tools for helping patients pinpoint their image.
Displaying brands such as Luxottica’s Coach, shown here at Kentucky Eye Care, often gives patients the direction they need in identifying a look they’d like to try.
Patients may find the visual of a two-brand display, like this one at Your Eyes Only Optical in Rapid City, SD, helpful if they’re on the fence between two iconic brands, like Zeal and Ray-Ban.
DRESSED-UP WINDOWS You can convey image through well-thought-out window displays. Certain fashion sunwear brands are very recognizable because of their presence in other retail arenas such as clothing or sporting goods. Create a display incorporating fashion sunwear with related products like a scarf, a handbag, cuff links, a tie click, a wallet, or shoes from the same brand. This kind of display lets consumers know that you understand brand image.

High-fashion sunwear is an ideal vehicle for harnessing brand image.

Nearly every branded product has a brand image. This can be a powerful resource for selling sunwear because it stimulates the buyer’s self image and desire to own the product. Few other products have the high visibility of sunwear and as eyewear sellers, sunwear represents a wonderful profit opportunity. So how can you match the right sunwear brands to the right patients?

IMAGE RESONATES
When you hear the phrase “built Ford tough,” what image comes to mind? Perhaps a leather-gloved man throwing bales of hay into the flatbed of his durable truck and dust kicking up on the ranch roads as he drives off? Now think about a pair of shiny red-soled Louboutin shoes. Perhaps you see Oprah sitting on her couch interviewing her guests with her red soles glistening in the lights.

Nearly every brand has an image that projects some sense of social status, quality, social acceptance (or rebellion), financial status, or style. As individuals begin to hear and understand a brand’s image, they test it against themselves. Is this brand for me? Does it reflect who I am, who I think I am, or who I want to be? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the brand becomes highly desirable. If the answer is no, it’s often passed up.

MAKE THAT MATCH
Now, how can you determine what image buyers want to convey? You need to ask them. It’s not as easy as asking, “what image would you like to convey?” but rather asking open-ended questions about their work, their environment, their wardrobe preferences, and their personality.

For example, a patient comes into the dispensary seeking sunglasses and is dressed in workout gear with her hair in a high ponytail. While your initial reaction would be to pull sporty sunwear styles from your board, you should also ask her about what she does when she’s not working out. She may also want a dressy or classic pair to wear on her commute to and from the office, or when meeting with clients. For a day’s shopping at the mall, she may want a high-end look with a bit of sparkle or bling. By asking some quick and simple questions about when and where she will be wearing her sunglasses and how she may want to feel in her fashion sunwear, you can easily find out about her lifestyle and what type of images she may wish to portray in varying circumstances.

Questions like these help you understand the image patients may want to portray with sunwear. If they have a hard time defining their image, pull a few fashion sunglasses off the board for them to try on. As they do, explain the image the brand and the frame convey. Watch how the patients react and ask them what they like or dislike about it. Do they like the material, shape, or color? You may also want to ask them whether they feel this reflects their personality and lifestyle.

GET OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE
Another helpful strategy is to take patients out of their comfort zone by having them try on fashion sunwear that is very different from what they’re currently wearing. Many people would like something completely different but struggle with having enough confidence to make the change so in a sense you’re giving them permission to embrace a different look.

I recently experienced this with a wonderful female patient who had just finished treatment for breast cancer. Her hair was returning and she wore it in a very short, sassy style. I told her how much I loved her hair and suggested she try on a fashion sunwear frame that was spunky like her great hairstyle. The minute she put it on her entire face lit up. She was embracing her new look and her newfound confidence. She had been very self-conscious about her new hairstyle but the new sunglasses gave her a look she hadn’t even realized she wanted!

When you ask people to step outside their comfort zone, you may be pleasantly surprised at their reaction. Even if they don’t swing to the complete opposite end of the fashion spectrum, you may move them out of a rut and make them both look and feel great.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
In order to match a brand’s image with your patient’s image desire, you need to know the image of each fashion sunwear brand you carry and the demographics the company is targeting. Your sales rep should be able to share this information with you, either verbally or by sharing press releases from the manufacturer. For example, you may hear something like, “This sunwear brand is for the modern woman, age 18 to 35, who is upwardly mobile, energetic, and likes to turn heads when she enters a room.”

What key elements can you take from this to help style your patients with frames that match their image? The first part you would take note of is the demographic: women between 18 and 35. It gives you a general idea of where to start, but it doesn’t always mean you have to be limited to that demographic. Perhaps a young-looking 45-year-old with a big smile and energetic personality would love that sunglass frame as well. A demographic statement gives you a jumping off point. The next clues are “upwardly mobile, energetic, and likes to turn heads.” This sunglass likely speaks to a rising professional who has an active lifestyle and likes to make an entrance in bright colors or patterns and bold styling.

WIDEN THE SELLING VOCABULARY
Successful opticians employ colorful and descriptive words to describe fashion sunwear and how it looks on a patient. Have you ever stopped to listen to the adjectives used in your dispensary? Hopefully words and phrases along the lines of “that’s nice” or “that’s pretty” are not used over and over again. Instead, use words and phrases that create excitement and an image such as “I love the delicate detail of this temple and how it naturally draws the eye upward.” For men you may wish to use adjectives such as rugged, sleek, commanding, or smart. To help dispensers become more comfortable with this, try role-playing during a staff meeting and see how many new adjectives you can come up with to describe the sunwear on your boards. Don’t forget to work on your adjectives for kids as well.

A brand’s image is a powerful selling tool. Be sure to match it to your buyers’ vision of themselves. When you do, you’ll have very satisfied patients.

Joy L. Gibb is an optician at Daynes Eye and Lasik in Bountiful, UT.

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