Study Examines Most Influential Factors for Frame Buyers

Familiarity with an eyecare practitioner was the dominant influencing factor among recent eyeglass frame buying consumers when they decided where to buy frames, according to the 2013 Vision Council Frame Purchase Motivation Study, a new survey on the topic. The Motivation Study also examined the factors that influence consumers about which type of location—independent ECP, conventional chain location or “big box” mass merchant/warehouse club retailer—they purchase frames from and how big a factor managed vision care coverage plays in that choice.

The consumer survey, conducted by The Vision Council, examined the role and influence of more than a dozen factors among recent adult eyeglass buyers who purchased frames in the U.S. The results indicated that even though there are several decision factors that influence where consumers shop and buy eyeglasses, price, convenience and familiarity with a specific practice or retailer hold significantly more sway in the decision process than other factors and variables.

In this first-time report, The Vision Council surveyed 19,271 adult consumers, including 2,942 recent Rx eyeglass frame buyers in August and September of 2013. Consumers were asked to rate the strength of 15 different factors on their decision to buy eyewear at a specific ECP practice or eyeglass retailer. The average consumer frame buyer generally considers two to three different factors when deciding on an eyeglass retailer, and generally one of those factors is either cost/price, convenience of the practice or retailer location and past familiarity with the practice or retailer.

Getting your eyes examined at a particular location or buying eyeglasses from a particular retailer in the past leads a large number of eyeglass buyers to frequent that same location to buy eyeglasses. In fact, for 40 percent of recent frame buyers “familiarity with a doctor or retailer” eventually leads them to buy eyeglass frames from that location. The “cost/price of the eyeglasses” offered by an eyewear retailer was the second strongest purchase motivation factor in the decision of consumers to select one specific eyeglass retailer over another. Overall, cost and price was an influential decision factor among almost 30 percent of recent eyeglass buyers.

Convenience (specifically, the location of the eye doctor or retailer) was an influential decision factor among one-quarter of eyeglass buyers when deciding on a retailer to buy eyeglass frames. Related to convenience, selecting an eyeglass frame retailer based on the anticipated “quickest service possible” was an influencing factor for about one-eighth of all recent eyeglass frame buyers

For a large number of recent frame buyers, the benefits and terms of their managed vision care insurance plan were a determining factor for where those consumers eventually went to buy eyeglass frames. While the benefits and terms of the consumer’s plan only influenced the location of purchase for one-eighth of all recent frame buyers, it was an influencing factor for well over half of all recent frame buyers who actually used their insurance benefits to purchase eyeglass frames.

“The quality of glasses offered by the eye doctor” was the last of the more influential decision factors among recent frame buyers. About 13 percent of all recent frame buyers selected the doctor or retailer of purchase based on the quality of glasses and frames offered by the specific retailer.

In addition to varying by consumer demographic and type of eyeglass shopper, the motivating factors also vary significantly based on the type of retailer where the purchase occurred. For instance, among consumers who shopped and bought frames at an independent ECP location, “familiarity” with the doctor or retailer was the dominant over-riding factor that led those consumers to ultimately purchase frames from that independent ECP location.

For instance, among consumers that shopped and bought eyeglass frames at a conventional optical chain location quality, advertisements, wanting the best brands available and wanting the quickest service possible were all relatively stronger, more influential factors driving the decision process of recent frame buyers.

Similarly, for “big box” retailers (mass merchants, wholesale clubs and department stores that sell general consumer merchandise in addition to eyewear), price, a convenient location, and the fact that they could buy general consumer merchandise during the same visit to buy eyewear were all very strong and influential factors that led certain consumers to buy frames from a big box retailer. ■