Research

A need for one clear message

As an independent optical designer and wholesaler, one of my company’s jobs is to help promote the value of independent optometry and Australian design. In that regard, we created a ‘We support Australian design’ window display including fashion images for optometrists to use in their practices. The reaction from the public has been great, with reports of people walking in and asking to see the frames after seeing the message.Another positive thing happening with independent Australian designers now is that more of th are exporting and exhibiting at international trade fairs. We started showing at SILMO Paris nine years ago and now there are four or five independent Australian eyewear designers showing and selling in Europe. This has made me proud, knowing that we are all helping Australia, even if it’s in a very small way.{{quote-A:R-W:480-Q: I believe, however, that locally, independent optometrists and independent optical designers can work together more closely, with one story of our values so that the practice is clearly differentiated from the corporate chain stores. }}I believe, however, that locally, independent optometrists and independent optical designers can work together more closely, with one story of our values so that the practice is clearly differentiated from the corporate chain stores.The optometrist could tell the patient a personal story about the actual person who has made their frames, and how they are made, including information about the long-lasting quality, comfort and fit. They could also provide information about the superior lenses and their construction, so the patient also understands the lens’ value and benefits.LEARNING FROM THE COMPETITIONIn having one clear message for the independents, we have to look at Specsavers, which has done a fantastic job in creating so much market share. The company ses to have done this in three main ways.Firstly, Specsavers started offering attractive price deals through fabulous ads, which gave consumers a positive feeling about getting a ‘bargain’. However, this has dramatically changed the public’s perception of the cost and value of frames and lenses.Secondly, the company very cleverly introduced Australian fashion brands, which made people feel good about their style and local connection. However, Specsavers is an overseas group and the designers behind its local brands are clothing designers, not independent optical designers.Thirdly, Specsavers is now focusing on the medical side of the market with its support of optometry education, its health fund connections, and its collaboration with RANZCO to develop clear referral pathways between optometrists and ophthalmologists.With a two-year timeline to analyse and measure the effectiveness of the RANZCO collaboration, Specsavers has taken a very professional approach to the partnership and I think it’s likely most patients Specsavers refers to an ophthalmologist will stay with the optical group for follow-up examinations.The independents have been invited to the RANZCO congress to learn more about the collaboration, but I wonder whether one individual optometrist asking questions will lead to their inclusion in the information research arrangents or gain th an ophthalmologist recommendation.If the buying groups got together to create one valuable story for the public that set their mbers apart from the corporates, they would have more influence. As one group, they could propose a deal to RANZCO and be more involved as a single entity with hospitals and schools, etc.Generally, independent optometrists can offer so much more as personal professional healthcare providers than the chain stores, where corporate managent rules dictate their actions. However, the buying groups do not se to be able to effectively get this story across to the public (although I’m sure the groups will have logical answers as to why this can’t be done).We are lucky to be involved in optometry as it is a profession of very good people, offering a great and caring service. If we band together, there is potential to significantly enhance our offering to Australians.


Name: Jonathan Hennessy SceatsBusiness: Jono Hennessy GroupPosition: FounderLocation: Sydney, NSWYears in the profession: More than 30 years (and still learning)