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Optical Market Trends – Contact Lens & Online Sales on the Rise

Contact Lens Increase, Online Sales Top Current Optical Market Trends

According to optical market trends, contact lenses are becoming more and more popular among Americans, even though all sectors of the optical market achieved growth in 2017 (the latest data available), according to Statista.

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The growth of the contact lens market is just one of many optical market trends that Eye Care Professionals should watch to keep up with the wants and needs of their patients/customers. Other optical market trends include the move toward online sales, a generational shift in patient demographics and the advancement of technology.

Returning to the trend toward contact-lens purchases, sales of contacts reached $5 billion in 2017, a 4.5% increase over 2016 and 39.7% higher than in 2010, Statista discovered. Purchases of glasses frames still far exceeded that of contacts, but the rate of growth has been much smaller. The $9.7 billion spent on frames in 2017 was just 0.2% more than in 2016 and 15.6% higher than in 2010.

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Eye Care Professionals, however, are getting a lower share of the optical market revenue because of the surge in online sales. Eyecare Business reported that 92% of respondents to a survey said online sales have affected their business. Twenty percent said it affected them “a lot.”

But the fact is, Eyecare Business found, that fewer opticians are offering their wares online than did one year earlier – 14% in 2017, as opposed to 28% in 2016. Online revenue accounted for 1% of optical shops’ revenue in 2017, as opposed to 2.5% in 2016. The good news is that 35% of Eye Care Professionals who aren’t online now are planning electronic sales in the near future.

Click Optical offers one way to increase the percentage of online optical market revenue. Opticians who partner with Click Optical will be able to recapture contact-lens revenue that walks out the door while making life easier for their staffs. Click Optical will send an e-mail on behalf of the practice to patients who don’t buy in-house, offering them the opportunity to purchase their lenses online.

This not only generates more revenue for the practice – and reduces dependence on third-party sellers – but it also reduces that number of e-mails and faxes that staff must manage when those third parties need to verify a prescription written by the practice.

Online sales aren’t the only trend that has been noted. Another is the coming of a new generation. Eyecare Business’ survey found that Baby Boomers’ long-held dominance of the optical market is changing. It still led market share in 2017 with Boomers generating 28% of revenue, but Generation X is hot on its heels, with a 27% share. In 2016, the shares were 30% and 25%, respectively. And Millennials are sneaking up, with 20% of the market.

According to optical market trends, sunglasses are on the rise as sales increase in the U.S.

Industry trends show that a generational shift means different buying habits. Some 56% of Eye Care Professionals say multiple-pair sales have increased, while 38% report significant growth in sunglasses sales. Sunwear accounts for 18% of total sales, and the percentage is growing. Polarized-lens sales achieved the biggest growth from 2016-2018, according to 78% of ECPs, Eyecare Business found. Two-third also listed photochromic lenses as a fast mover.

Market research shows that higher-tech eyewear will also continue to trend upward as technological advancements increase. Eyecare Business’ survey found that opticians believe sales of progressive, free-form and blue-light-filtering lenses will soar by the end of this decade. Some 40% of the opticians discuss blue-light protection with their patients, while 59% start conversations about digital eye strain.

The optical market is changing and advancing. And it seems Eye Care Professionals are doing well in keeping up with the trends.

Stay tuned: An updated Optical Market Trends blog will be posted as soon as 2018 numbers are available.

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