Big Numbers, With Distinction
The leading optical retail chains and regional retailers in the U.S. are a very influential group. The Top 50 now comprise nearly 28 percent, according to VM’s estimates, of the total U.S. market’s optical sales and revenues.
Optical chains’ operations—national and regional—are an important sector. And I don’t say that to imply that they are “more” important than independent locations and eyecare professionals. But they continue to have a consistent and growing impact on the way they portray and affect millions of Americans’ vision and eyewear choices.
Approaching nearly a third of the U.S. market’s revenues, their influence fans out to an even larger percentage of “mind share” to much of the public—for their marketing prowess (involving a range of messages from high-end to middle to mass), for their systems and technologies, for their influence on the industry’s product and technology development and for the roles they often play in their local communities to underserved populations.
Increasingly, though, it’s difficult to generalize about “the chains.” In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, when the so-called “commercial” chains were simultaneously opening dozens of stores a year and acquiring other regional operations, they were the “new” market force that posed a series of dilemmas to traditional independent retailers and ECP offices. In the ‘00s, some of the chains started acquiring each other and consolidation created both new efficiencies and new challenges.
Today’s chains and leading regional operators, however, are really a diverse lot. Each has chosen a path in providing services and product solutions to targeted groups of consumers/patients. All use proven retail principles and disciplines to manage large organizations and staffs but “they” are not the same as one another. “They” are individual operations which each address a customer target and demographic, a positioning toward eyewear and eyecare, each offering a unique “brand.”
Our exclusive, signature report on this sector, was compiled for you this month by VM’s Senior Editor John Sailer with assistance of the knowledgeable industry expertise of Contributing Editor Cathy Ciccolella. They have sifted and sorted through the numbers.
We hope you see the report as a portrait reflecting the distinct ranges and the variety within the complex vision care professional and eyewear retail sector. Write us and tell us what you think.
To reach customer service, please call (800) 825-4696.
© 2013 VisionMonday. All Rights Reserved