“If optometry is healthy, we are healthy”
CooperVision president Daniel McBride reflects on how optometrists can thrive in business today
For a lawyer with a background in mergers and acquisitions, making the transition to the clinical world of contact lenses is the kind of career shift that might appear daunting. But for Dan McBride, CooperVision and its mission won him over early on.
“I get to work with really talented people who are leaders in the contact lens industry,” he explains when OT catches up with the man who deftly combines his role as president of CooperVision with executive vice president and COO of The Cooper Companies.
The last four years has been a defining period, framed by the acquisition of Sauflon. Consolidating on this significant investment – to the tune of $1.2bn – Mr McBride said the company today is driven by the complementary goals of providing the broadest range of products in the industry, while remaining committed to the wellbeing of optometry.
Dan on...Stepping into optics
“I am an odd duck to optics. I was working for law firm Latham & Watkins on the Ocular Sciences merger. Through this work, CooperVision invited me to run its legal team. I became heavily involved in the IP, product development, and expanding into regions. This allowed me to see the company in a global way. Four years ago, I was asked to run the company in general, and we identified immediately that we wanted to acquire Sauflon. This move transformed the company. We had been lagging in innovations and we were trying to catch-up. When we acquired Sauflon, we leapfrogged the industry. We had to ask ourselves: what are we doing in our research and development, and what does the market need?”
“We recognise that the health of optometry is critical to the health of the patients. After all, the relationship between the optometrist and the consumer is critical to contact lenses in a lot of ways. They introduce contact lenses to patients, and contact lenses are a medical device – they are tricky to learn how to use,” he says.
“When you consider that the biggest problem is the category is dropout, this relationship is vital. That’s why CooperVision provides not just products but also services and training for eye care practitioners. We spend a lot of time looking at the problems optometry is having and finding solutions. If optometry is healthy, we are healthy,” he adds.
What does Mr McBride identify as the most pressing issues and opportunities in eye health today? And how is CooperVision rising to meet this challenge in a meaningful way?
The answer, Mr McBride contends, is in part about highlighting the opportunity for consumers, optometrists and manufacturers.
“We are in a world where there is a lot of fear out there right now. Practice is changing; consumer behaviour is changing; online players are coming in. Within this mix it is right to ask: where can contact lenses go?”
Recognising the value
Asked about the changing the way consumers think about contact lenses and driving a better level of penetration, Mr McBride is quick to tackle the idea that price is driving consumers decisions. “If we focus on those consumers fixated on price, we miss the point,” he concludes.
“The craziest thing – and shame on all of us – is the premise that contact lenses are expensive. We are talking about our most valuable sense – our sight. And we spend less money on eye health than we do on make-up, clothing, or the coffee we drink.”
“People still like to shop on the High Street, but it is not the cheapest option,” he adds. “If you look at consumer behaviour, people don’t buy at the cheapest price. Trust and relationships matter more. We have bought into the idea that contact lenses are an expensive option, and we have let this dominate conversation.”
OT asks the CooperVision president if the currency of the optometry brand being is exploited fully. Pausing, Mr McBride suggests the profession should recognise that consumers “want a variety of vision correction solutions in their lives, not just a single solution.”
“There is more we can do. We need to build on the equity with the consumer. And we need to get away from the idea that there is a competition between contact lenses and glasses. Contact lens wearers all have glasses – and they need both in their lives.”