Nationwide Vision

Sun Belt State’s Not Just for Retirees Anymore as Millennials Move to the Front


While Arizona is often viewed as a state that’s filled with retirees, that’s not necessarily the case, according to both Nationwide Vision as well as the United States Census bureau. “The perception of Arizona is that everyone is old and retired, but the demographics are the opposite,” said Al Bernstein, president/COO of Nationwide Vision. “Arizona is getting younger and younger and younger.”

Statistics back him up. Only 14.2 percent of the population is over 65, according to the United States Census bureau, while 36.2 percent are between the ages of 10 and 34, composed primarily of Millennials born between 1982 and 2000.

That’s why Nationwide Vision, with 65 locations throughout Arizona, has embraced new marketing techniques designed to reach this younger audience. To do so, “creativity is the key,” said Anushka M. Figueroa, director, brand strategy. “The message has to be very compelling,” and to catch the attention of this group, she’s found that it must express three important points. “Millennials want to talk about eye health, they are very fashion forward, but it must be affordable.”

At the same time, this three-pronged message must be delivered in a way that actually reaches these young adults, so it’s no surprise that Nationwide has chosen various forms of electronic media to do so. “They are not reading print at all,” said Figueroa. “They are all about their iPads and their mobile phones and social media such as Facebook and Instagram and Twitter.” So Nationwide’s marketing strategy has gone electronic.


 Billboard advertising is one way Nationwide Vision reaches Millennials, which comprise more of the Arizona population than Boomers. 
In addition to relaunching its website from a brand perspective to call attention to its fashion forward style, Nationwide has also ventured into placing ads on electronic billboards as well as on the online radio station Pandora. The company also tested traditional radio spots promoting some concerts on a station geared toward males aged 18 to 49 with their “sweet spot” being the 25-year-old.

Figueroa particularly likes electronic media such as Pandora because she can measure its effectiveness. “Social media and digital are 100 percent measurable. To reach 18- to 35-year-olds, whether they are streaming Pandora on mobile or on the computer, it’s very measurable who is clicking onto the ad,” she said.

The use of Quick Response (QR) codes is another highly quantifiable marketing technique that Nationwide has utilized to reach Millennials. The company has also placed banner ads on the Arizona Republic website,

Anecdotally, Bernstein has already noticed the difference in the effectiveness of some of these new marketing outlets the company has explored when compared with more traditional advertising. “In the past, when I met new people and introduced myself, they’d ask what Nationwide Vision is, though I know they’ve seen my ad in their mailbox,” he said. “Now, they say, ‘Hey, I saw your billboard.’”

Of course, with over 14 percent of Arizona’s population and 10 percent of Nationwide’s customers being seniors, this statewide optical chain doesn’t ignore the older demographics either. Its doctors perform over 1,000 cataract surgeries per year, and Bernstein attributes much of its business from the over 65 set to the snowbirds who are likely to get their eye exams during the six months out of the year that they are living in Arizona. To get its message to these travelers, Nationwide advertises with AAA. “We go after them with senior ads in AAA magazine,” said
Bernstein. “We do seven figures to reach AAA members every year.”

Other techniques the company uses to reach the older demographic include advertising on the Dr. Oz show and offering seniors discounts for eye exams on the typically slow days of Tuesday and Thursday. In-house research studies have also determined that seniors prefer having a second pair of eyeglasses. “They want a backup pair in their drawer,” said Bernstein, so Nationwide also offers two-pair specials to seniors as well.

With print and television for the older set, social media and digital advertising for the young adults, and of course promotions and discounts for both groups, Nationwide Vision has both the Millennials and the Boomers covered throughout the state of Arizona.

—John Sailer