The Business of Contact Lenses

Finding the Message—and the Correct Recipients

the business of contact lenses

Finding the Message—and the Correct Recipients


Market segmentation is the process that marketers use to try to answer the question, “What group or subgroup will buy my products or services and what does that group have in common?”

In the case of contact lens marketing, we can use the same strategy to help focus our marketing. Which segments can we focus on? Well, before deciding that we need to decide what we want to sell. Is it the service and professional skill associated with the contact lenses or the lenses themselves? If it's the lenses themselves, which lenses or category of lenses? Under the heading of, “You can't be all things to all patients,” thinking about market segmentation is a process that will help you conserve precious marketing dollars and spend them more wisely.

The Right Market Segment

Let's use an example of a practice that sets a goal of increasing its share of daily disposable lenses in its particular market. Dr. DD believes that the manner in which his office is run is so customer service and patient friendly that he wants to use those attributes to go against his competition. So he has done the first piece of segmentation—he has decided to sell the manner in which his services are delivered as opposed to the lenses themselves.

Next, he needs to define which segment of his total possible contact lens-wearing—or more accurately buying—population would be most receptive to his message.

He looks at his current patient base of daily disposable wearers and notices that his population of wearers is skewed towards teenagers. He also acknowledges that the teenagers' parents are the lens buyers. To further segment things he asks his staff, “When most teens come in for lenses, who escorts them and who finally pays the bill?” His staff responds that 80 percent of the time it is the teenagers' mother.

From here, Dr. DD tries to determine: “What is important to healthcare-decision-making mothers?” This should be done via research and can be as easy as surveying current patients or simply asking them. Let's say in this example that 70 percent of mothers of current daily disposable-wearing teens indicate on a survey that “convenience and availability of appointments” were the “very” or “most important” attribute for choosing the practice.

With his service defined and his target segment delineated, Dr. DD can begin his campaign.

If you get as far as Dr. DD, you'll be way ahead of your competitors. The mistake they usually make is to jump to, “I want to fit more daily disposable lenses so I'll advertise the attributes of the lenses.” Yet in this case, the wearers who will benefit from these attributes are not the people who pay for the lenses. In fact, the attributes are not the trigger for the possible purchase.

With busy moms as his target audience, Dr. DD's approach can be centered on his office's efficiency and hours. He can still talk about lens benefits but he can cocoon that message inside a service story. For example, his messaging could imply, “We know you want the best lenses for your busy teenager and we know how busy you are. That's why we offer special fitting times for teenagers who are interested in wearing daily disposable lenses. These special times are after school and on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and we are able to see 99 percent of our patients within five minutes of their appointment time.”

Hitting the Target

It is very easy for our marketing to go astray and miss its target. It's assured to happen if the target isn't defined before you begin your campaign. CLS

Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice – a company offering consulting, seminars and software solutions for optometrists. You can reach him at (800) 867-9303 or