So here we are ensconced in the hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer. Many of us take it easy at this time of year; others wish they could.
With the warm and sunny weather comes a focus on activities outdoors—whether a vigorous jog, a round of golf or just an afternoon on the beach. And of course all that sunlight exposure, while providing us with much needed vitamin D, also dispenses UVA and UVB rays that wreak havoc on humans.
The people who make and sell sunscreen have done a tremendous job of making consumers aware of the harm summer sunlight can do to the skin (the pain of sunburn helps get the message across, too). It seems that everyone is aware of the need for sun block and the adequate levels of protection.
Eye exposure to sunlight is a different story. The same people who slather their children with sunscreen often have little or no concern for their eye protection. Sunglasses? A nice fashion accessory but are they really necessary?
According to a study conducted by the AOA, only 28% of sunglass-purchasing consumers were aware that certain ones provide UV protection, and that group tended to be older men not teens and Millennials who would most likely need the protection (and blue light protection, for that matter) even more.
At this point in the narrative you probably know where this is going. While the sunscreen people have effectively captured top-of-mind awareness for the value of their products, the sunglass people have done very little.
The optical channel in particular has been remiss when it comes to telling the sunglasses story—even though optical should take the lead in this effort. In fact, optical has the smallest market share of any retail channel in the plano sunwear space—just 2.5%, compared to almost 40% at mass market, drug and other venues.
There are several reasons for this statistic, but the most compelling one—at least where plano sunwear is concerned—is that traditional optometry doesn’t want to be in fashion retailing. Plano sunglasses? Isn’t that for Nordstrom to sell?
In order for this to work in optical, fashion has to give way, at least a little bit, to function. And those who feel squeamish about selling plano sunwear, have to come to recognize that vision protection is their business and anybody who goes outside needs a quality pair of sunglasses. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
email me at FG@VisionCareProducts.com