CANDID CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN VCPN’S ED DE GENNARO AND LEADING OPTICAL EXECUTIVES ABOUT THEIR PRODUCT STRATEGIES.
Carl Bracy is Senior Vice President of Marketing and New Business of Essilor of America, Inc. He joined the company in 2004 as Vice President of Marketing. Bracy received his undergraduate degree in psychology and economics, and his masters of business administration in marketing and finance from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining Essilor, Bracy held positions with Proctor and Gamble, Verizon, and TXU Energy. Here he discusses how Essilor communicates to its customer and consumer base about the products it offers.
Ed De Gennaro: How would you define Essilor’s marketing approach?
Carl Bracy: Essilor communicates with both customers and consumers in whatever form they prefer that helps them learn about our products and services. At our core, Essilor is a company that provides noticeably superior products that improve vision. To do that, we’ve also become a superior service company that talks to every consumer and customer in a variety of ways and at different levels so that they receive our messages in whatever way that works best for them.
For example, if you’re talking to an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, you’re talking in more medical terms. When you’re talking to an optician, you’re talking in dispensing terms, like how they communicate to their customers about our products. When you’re talking to the public, they have many questions other than vision, so your communication has to enable the consumer to come to the right conclusions quickly.
For a doctor, you might use a technical white paper, but when you’re talking to a consumer, you’re talking in sound bytes. We have to understand the questions our audience has going in as well as their needs to make sure we get to that endpoint of understanding as quickly and efficiently as possible. We’ll use TV, radio, print, social media, publications, industry publications, and our salespeople to accomplish this—any way that gets the right information at the right time in the right amount of detail to the right people.
EDG: With all the products that Essilor has, how are you able to keep them all attractive to eyecare professionals (ECPs)?
CB: Our customers are ECPs and our goal is to provide perfect visual solutions to patients with very diverse needs. Since every patient is different and every practice is different, we need different solutions for every consumer at all the right prices that fit with every practice’s needs. We have lots of solutions because no two practices are exactly alike and no two patients are exactly the same. We don’t expect our customers to understand every product Essilor offers; we want them to understand the products that make sense for their practice and their patients.
EDG: So are you working on something that will help ECPs focus on the products that are best for their patients?
CB: Yes, we’re always working on how to communicate the appropriate products to the right practice, as opposed to making the practice feel they need to understand everything Essilor offers. One way of doing this is working with our sales consultants so they can better educate practices on the products that make sense for them. We want our sales consultants to understand a lot more about the practices’ needs so they can talk about the products that make sense for that practice and not every product Essilor has to offer. We do this by providing training on what ECPs need and how that differs between practices.
EDG: Optifog™ is a unique product to the Rx eyewear market. How is it doing?
CB: Optifog is at the beginning of the product cycle so we’re having success with forward-thinking practices. Think of it like AR at the beginning of its product cycle. It’s a unique solution for preventing dangerous sudden blindness that can be caused by fogged lenses. We’ve had success in some areas and we’re building on those successful early adopters who understand how to educate patients on new products. Little by little, that will spread everywhere.
EDG: So where will you take marketing for Essilor in the next few years?
CB: I think you’ll see a lot of what you’re seeing now as Essilor continues to deliver new breakthrough products. That has been the core of Essilor’s success. You’ll see continued focus on new dispensing techniques. For example, we’re committed to making Visioffice® an important piece of what differentiates good practices from other places consumers could buy eyeglasses. We’ll keep enhancing it so that practices always stay state-of-the-art and on the cutting edge of technology.
We’ve spent a lot of time with our practice customers on how to dispense products and solutions to patients in an effective, efficient way. This learning will result in new practice marketing services for our customers, helping them be more successful. You’ll also see a couple of new patient educational campaigns. In addition to Crizal®, we’ll probably have more opportunities to talk to patients using a variety of communications channels, including through the voice of ECP customers.