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The changing consumer

Jason Kirk discusses the changing needs of the consumer and how independents can adapt in order to thrive

28 Mar 2019 by Emily McCormick, Laurence Derbyshire

The way that consumers buy products is changing, co-founder of British eyewear brand Kirk & Kirk, Jason Kirk, told OT. This change will affect their buying habits when it comes to frames, he said.

“Consumers need to be excited and stimulated in a way that opticians haven’t traditionally done,” Mr Kirk explained.

Sharing advice, Mr Kirk highlighted the importance of independent opticians creating a clear and consistent message both in-store and online that tells the consumer what they are about.

“Your message needs to be absolutely clear to the consumer,” Mr Kirk said, adding: “It should share what your story is, what you stand for, why you are different and exceptional, and why it is worth spending money with you.”

Mr Kirk acknowledges that this is difficult to do, labelling it “the biggest challenge that our independent optical sector faces.”

Overall, this message must express what the practice stands for. “If what you stand for is slightly less exciting than the peak of the market, that’s ok, as long as the message is clear to the customer and they can make an informed decision,” Mr Kirk highlighted.

The shop fit and frames should also portray the same message.

The product

On frames, Mr Kirk advised independents to: “Select your brands really carefully.”

“Don’t sit at home waiting for the rep to come to you...Go to 100% Optical, go to Silmo, go to Mido, go to New York.”

Importantly, he encourages independents to tell their customers that they are doing this via social media. “This is like saying ‘I am your trusted opticians and I am going all over the world to find you the best collections’,” he said. 

The customer journey

Mr Kirk emphasised that, for the consumer, the transaction starts long before they arrive in store. “Nowadays everybody will go online, they will have a look at where they can get their eyes tested and have a look at what kind of products are available,’ Mr Kirk said. 

“Your online presence needs to match up to their expectations or go beyond it,” he said. 

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