ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Vision Council, a trade association dedicated to supporting the optical industry, released Focused inSights 2024: Online vs. In-Person Purchase Patterns, offering a comprehensive examination of consumer shopping habits for eyeglasses, contact lenses, sunglasses and readers. The report detailed both online and in-person buying trends, providing valuable insights for a variety of optical businesses. A summary, along with the full research report, is available in The Vision Council’s Research Download Center as a complimentary download for members of The Vision Council, with a paid option for non-members.

"In today’s digital age, the options that consumers have to shop for eyewear is constantly evolving, and we’re pleased to offer this comparative analysis of optical product purchasing patterns in our latest Focused inSights Research Report,” said Alysse Henkel, vice president of Research and inSights at The Vision Council.

“Understanding the nuances between online and in-person buying habits is crucial for businesses looking to stay ahead in the competitive landscape.” Key findings from the report include:

  • While online purchasing continues to trend upward, overall, the large majority of optical product purchases are made in-person.

  • Prescription eyeglasses are the most likely to be purchased in-person at 85 percent, with nonprescription reading glasses and sunglasses following closely at 79 percent and 77 percent, respectively.

  • Contact lens purchases are still most likely to be made in-person, but have the highest online purchase rate of 37 percent out of the segments surveyed.

  • Online purchasers are more likely to buy multiple pairs of prescription glasses, nonprescription reading glasses, and nonprescription sunglasses.

  • Online eyewear purchase rates have held steady across prescription and nonprescription optical products over the last two years.
The report also explored consumers’ use of FSA/HSA benefits, captured net promoter scores, and compared out-of-pocket spending.

FSA and HSA Use:

  • Consumers who purchase optical products in-person are more likely to use their FSA or HSA benefits.

  • Overall use of FSA and HSA accounts to purchase glasses or contacts declined from 2022 to 2023, both online and in-person.
Net Promoter Scores:

  • Consumers who buy glasses online are more inclined to recommend their retailer to others than those who purchase glasses in-store are to recommend their retailer or optical practice.

  • However, consumers who bought their contact lenses in-person are more likely to recommend their retailer or optical practice than those who purchase contact lenses online.
Out-of-Pocket Spend Comparisons:

  • Consumers who purchase their eyeglasses in-person are more likely to spend more out-of-pocket.

  • However, consumers who purchase their nonprescription sunglasses online spend more, on average, compared with their in-person shoppers.
The Vision Council's inSights Research Report serves as a valuable resource for industry stakeholders, providing actionable insights to inform strategic decision-making and enhance the overall consumer experience. This survey is based on data collected between January 2022 and December 2023, among a nationally representative online sample of 121,288 U.S. adults.