I’m sure you’ve heard the old expression, “This isn’t your father’s automobile.” Most of us use this or some form of this cliché to indicate that a product is a lot different from what our parents had when they were young. A recent news story from MSNBC mirrored this when they reported on the current psyche of Millennials in regard to buying automobiles. The message in this story has some important implications for eyecare professionals (ECPs).

According to the report, teenagers are waiting longer than ever to get a driver’s license and are much more focused on electronic gizmos like smartphones, tablets, and other electronic goodies. That doesn’t bode well for auto sales since getting teens into their first car begins a relationship of reliance on the auto… and many years of auto buying that automakers cherish.

In response, industry leaders have analyzed this demographic and came up with some strategies to lure Millennials to their vehicles. According to the article, research suggests that young people come into auto showrooms for different reasons than those who came years ago.

What they discovered was that young people love customization and personalization. That shouldn’t be surprising considering how young people love to customize their cell phones, their Facebook pages, the home screen on their laptop, etc. As far as automobiles go, the report indicates that Millennials are spending as much as one third more on an automobile to customize it. That suggests that they’ll pay to have something that’s unique to them. In fact, nearly half of new car buyers are willing to accessorize their auto when they buy it.

What can you do to capitalize on this trend? Eyewear has long been a product that is highly individualized because of the detailed nature of the lens prescription, yet most eyewear buyers probably don’t see it as such because customization of the lens prescription is not apparent to them. That suggests two strategies: 1. Help the wearer understand the highly customized aspect of lenses; and 2. Provide opportunities to customize lenses and frames.

Doing this should be easy and great fun. For example, as you’re explaining your lens material recommendation, mention how personalized and unique their lens prescription is for them. Next, bring out a lens sample kit that showcases all the lens options the buyer can have and suggest some cool customization options like gradient mirror treatments, polarized photochromics, driving lenses, edge polishing, special decorative bevel treatments, and other decorative lens edge/surface enhancements, etc. For frames, this is even easier, as long as you offer collections that provide lots of color and design options.

If Millennials want customized eyewear, it’s easy to give it to them.

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