BUSINESS: ICYMI Essilor to Launch Major Programs and Products in 2020, ‘The Year of Vision’ By Staff Friday, January 10, 2020 10:06 AM Sherianne James told attendees an important opportunity exists for “shortening the repurchase cycle” for consumers and enabling them to trade up to premium products. ORLANDO, Fla.—Essilor of America is kicking off 2020, “The Year of Vision,” by launching an array of new programs and products designed to strengthen the company’s relationships with independent eyecare professionals by expanding its premium spectacle lens lines and introducing digital technologies that enhance the patient experience. Top executives from Essilor of America as well as from parent company EssilorLuxottica were on hand at the company’s national sales meeting here to announce the new initiatives over the past two days and offer their perspectives on the year ahead.Speaking before an audience of about 600 sales, marketing, technical personnel and distributors, Essilor of America senior vice president and chief marketing officer Sherianne James said an important opportunity exists for “shortening the repurchase cycle” for consumers and enabling them to trade up to premium products. Toward that end, Essilor is introducing Smartbook, a digital tool that lets consumers book online appointments with their eye doctor.Powered by 4Patientcare, it delivers what she called “a frictionless experience” for patients, 70 percent of whom prefer to book appointments outside of an eyecare practice’s business hours. It also lets the practice follow up with patients after their appointment within a “sweet spot” when patients are receptive to trading up to better products.Jeff Harrell updated the audience about Essilor’s innovations in its four major lens product categories: single vision, photochromic, progressive and AR coating. Smartbook will be offered primarily through Essilor Experts, an exclusive group of eyecare professionals that recommend Essilor lenses and use dispensing and practice management tools developed by Essilor partners such as GPN’s EDGEPro dashboard. There are currently 5,400 Essilor Experts in the U.S., a number Essilor hopes to increase to 7,000 by the end of the year.Jeff Harrell, senior director, product marketing , told the audience about Essilor’s innovations in its four major lens product categories: single vision, photochromic, progressive and AR coating. The first product to be released is a new single vision lens, Eyezen Start. The latest addition to Essilor’s Eyezen single vision line, Eyezen Start has two “optimization points” instead of the usual single point, a design feature that Harrell said enhances the lens’ performance. Eyezen Start is available to ECPs now.On Feb. 11, Essilor will release Transitions Signature GEN 8 Style Colors, a new, fashion photochromic lens that allows wearers to personalize their look.Essilor is also expanding its progressive lens portfolio with the launch of Varilux Comfort Max on April 14. Harrell described it as a lens design “for modern, digital lifestyles.” Essilor is positioning the lens, the latest extension of its popular Comfort brand, as a mid-priced alternative to its top of the line Varilux X lens.Harrell also teased the third quarter launch of Crizal Rock, a formulation of Essilor’s best-selling Crizal AR coating that is designed for increased durability.Dawn Alcorn (l) and Becky Palm of the Essilor Vision Foundation display signs for the organization's new Vote for Vision campaign.Holly Gillentine, vice president, brand, media, and communications said Essilor is supporting Transitions and Essilor lens products with a robust advertising program. “We’ll be on the air every single week in first quarters, beginning next week,” she told attendees.Essilor’s non-profit Essilor Vision Foundation is also rolling out a new campaign this year, the theme of which, “Vote for Vision,” ties into the election year. Intended to raise awareness of the importance of providing children access to good vision, the campaign will enlist “voters” to make charitable donations to help fund vision screenings and free eyeglasses for the approximately 12 million children who can’t see clearly, according to Becky Palm, president and executive director of the Foundation.