The New Consumer
It probably comes as no surprise that the pandemic transformed consumer behavior. Recent data shows that at least 50 percent of consumers permanently adjusted their purchasing habits. While curbside pick-up and telehealth always had time-saving benefits, more customers were forced to overcome apprehensions and try these services for the first time.
Data also suggests that consumers are nearly equally divided into two groups: those who prioritize price, and those who prioritize quality. Optical dispensaries tend to fall into similar categories: those who compete on price and those who compete on quality. From a marketing perspective, it gets more nuanced.
For instance, if only two stores carry a certain product, one could advertise that they have the lowest prices to capture half of the consumers. The other one could advertise that they offer the highest quality to capture the remaining customers. However, since many retailers in one area offer both categories, it becomes essential to differentiate your office with other strategies.
With the likelihood of a permanent shift in consumer behavior, new priorities begin to emerge. Certainly, the data shows that a key motivating factor is convenience which often involves remote and virtual services, but this is something that you likely already knew instinctively. The question isn’t whether or not consumer behavior is changing, it is; the question you and your practice must answer is what to do about it.
Embracing technologies like virtual try-on or displaying an online frame gallery are two prime examples that deliver convenience. From a marketing perspective, this requires an office to first adopt such a service and, equally importantly, to make their customers aware of them.
Simplicity in purchasing and communication
More than ever, today’s customers make decisions based on how and how easy it is to communicate; personally, I have grown dependent on text message reminders for anything from flights to dental visits. Outbound messaging is both convenient for the customer and an opportunity to plant seeds about the type of services and products they can expect to receive at your office.
It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the typical consumer only visits an eyecare practice every 1-3 years; to many patients, the journey for an eye care visit is unfamiliar or they’ve forgotten.
Facilitating the process likely requires more communication about insurance, payment, and eyewear than we often assume.
When considering the profile of today’s “new consumer”, I recommend finding an effective way to walk through your entire patient journey as if you’ve never been to an eyecare practice. If you can’t separate yourself from your practice, which is often very difficult to do, ask a friend to come to your office for an exam and take note of their experiences.
The consumer experience from their first encounter on your website to the final goodbye after dispense should align with these new expectations, finding ease and convenience every step of the way.