The Latest Lens Technology Will Lead to Steady Sales Growth
Standard Optical’s sunwear business has grown exponentially over the past 5 years. The active lifestyle in Utah, increases in our LASIK volume to approximately 200 eyes per month, and substantial growth in our contact lens sales have primarily fueled the growth. The demise of a substantial regional player, Knighton Optical, who operated 10 ‘Sunglass Shops’, has allowed us double digit growth in most categories, sunwear being one that is outperforming some others.
Nearly 75% of our sunwear business can be attributed to second pair sales so we have dedicated 30% of our product mix to sunwear with an even split of 15 percent in plano suns and 15% in Rx-able styles. In 2007, sunwear accounted for about 6% of our total revenue. We’ve projected total sales of $12 million for 2008, with roughly $900,000 expected in sunwear, or about 7.5 percent of our total revenue. Currently, the average price point for sunwear is around $149.95, which has decreased slightly as we’ve expanded our offering to include an entry-level retail price of $19.95.
Our sunwear mix is roughly 60% sport, 40% fashion. We have an active demographic who ski, bike, fish, etc. Our sunwear customer hasn’t changed entirely, but the spectrum of ages has. We still see a sport focus, especially in the younger demographics, but the older market, age 49 and over, will still be a focus for us, mainly with the fashion lines.
From a fashion standpoint, bigger is still better in terms of style. Name brands have become less important in this area than functionality. Our buying strategies won’t change much from 2007. Typically, styling is the most important, followed closely by function. Lens technology is important, but other technology like Bluetooth, MP3, and swap-out lens systems are not a major concern. We will continue to carry Zeal Optics, Smith, Maui Jim, Ray-Ban and Optic Nerve/M- Shades in our sports category and BCBG, Prada, Schubach Originals, Gucci, Vera Wang, Lacoste and Kenneth Cole in the fashion category.
We merchandise our eyewear in collections, not necessarily by demographic, meaning all styles in a brand are shown together and not broken down by gender, and we are drawing our customers in with targeted 1-to-1 marketing. We use some sophisticated ‘cloning’ techniques to purchase mail listings in the appropriate zip codes and demographics. Much of our growth will be fueled by merchandising and dispenser training and a comprehensive 1-to-1 marketing campaign aimed at all purchasers of contact lenses, LASIK and spectacles to promote repeat business using special promotional sunwear offers. This is especially important for our contact lens and LASIK patients. In the past, marketing to our medical patients – LASIK, PRK, and cataracts – has been hugely successful.
Going forward, steady growth in the area of 8% to 9% is important for us. Offering the latest in lens technology will fuel the Rx sun business with new Transitions, Younger Drivewear, SunRX from Vision-Ease, LifeRX Melanin, and Custom Polar Colors – IRX Polaroid from Specialty Lens by Essilor, more so than frame styling. I expect to see our average price point drop slightly as the economy struggles in 2008, making more affordable frames a sensible option for the patient, especially considering premium lens sales tend to retail at double, even triple the frame price. Growth in LASIK and contact lenses will help the plano business encouraged by attractive promotional offers targeted toward these patients. Lastly, we see an opportunity to mail plano sunglasses directly to a patient’s home or office in combination with our contact lens services. Convenience will continue to be a selling point for us in all aspects, and with the huge success of our patient home delivery program for contact lenses, sunglasses is a natural addition to the program.