Sports eyewear is fast emerging as a top ranking selling product in the busy optical retail zone. But selling this requires awareness and clear understanding of the market
Over a decade ago, people rarely wore eyewear specifically designed to protect their eyes during sports. Today, in the optical retail market, a fast emerging area of specialised eyewear is sports eyewear. And though selling sports eyewear can be a challenge, the optical retailers could hugely benefit from concentrating on this sector.
We know that sports eyewear is a parallel range of eyewear, among other categories that include prescription eyewear and sunglasses. And like these, sports eyewear too can be sold to all ages, the only criterion being that the wearer has to be a sports lover and of course a sports practitioner as well. Sports eyewear include options for watersports, mountain climbing, swimming, skiing, snowboarding and a whole lot more. Though there is a wide range to choose from, the buyers still need to learn about them. Once the retailers realise that this a parallel products’ line that can be promoted along with prescription glasses and sunglasses, the possibilities to market this range will instantly amplify.
Beyond brands and price points
Despite the fact that there are big players in the market offering sports eyewear at varying prices, buying sports eyewear is more than just restricting the sale to brands and prices. When the retailers sell prescription glasses, the criteria are threefold – the kind of lens, the fit and the style. When they sell sunglasses, points to be considered may include brand, style and fit, but not necessarily in that order. But for sports eyewear, the first consideration should be the kind of sport the eyewear is needed for. For instance, glasses needed for mountain climbing would be different from the one needed for motorsports, which again would be different from snowboarding glasses. So it is imperative that the optical retailers learn about the different kinds of sports eyewear that are available.
Fish for buyers
Though sports eyewear is becoming increasingly popular, not every sport lover and practicioner is aware of its availability. Therefore it is important for the opticians to ‘fish’ for such buyers. When it comes to children, we still see them wearing regular glasses while playing sports. According to the American National Society To Prevent Blindness, nearly 40,000 of the eye injuries that take place in a year can be attributed to sports injuries. Of these, nearly half happen to children that are less than 15 years of age. Thus it is important for retailers to educate parents on the importance of eye safety during sports. Kids should be coaxed into wearing sports eyewear while playing. Once the parents understand its importance, you can guide them and their children to select the right protective eyewear, depending on the type of sports that the children are inclined towards.
A good way to do so is to conduct impromptu demonstration session at neighbouring clubs where members enrol for cricket, badminton and other sports activities. Use these sessions to familiarise them with sports eyewear that would protect their eyes during the game as well as add glamour to their appearance. Such marketing initiatives can be a good opportunity to talk to the youth who are always on the look-out for eyewear that will protect their eyes during high-impact sports. Always remember to understand their needs and cater to them accordingly.
Moving on, don’t forget to pay special attention to your older customers. They are not just prospective customers for prescription glasses for cataract or other disease related issues, but also as prospective users of sports eyewear. For instance, golfing is a sport that is loved by the young and old alike. Occasionally, you may come across markets where you may need to nudge your customer into accepting the importance of sports for a healthy life, before you get them to buy the eyewear.
To do so, organise community get-togethers along with local resident groups for senior citizens and introduce them to the various types of sports that they can indulge in. This includes options like jogging, fishing, badminton, table tennis, etc.Once you convince them about the importance of sports, you can coax them into adapting their eyewear accordingly.
Sports eyewear sales tips
What we mentioned above were intangible processes to initiate and increase sports eyewear sale. But there are some direct tangible methods of sale that will also attract prospective buyers of sports eyewear to the store. There are many celebrity sports men and women who endorse sports brands. Check out the ones closest to youth icons and put up a couple of such posters on the walls of your store. Such displays perk up aspirational sportsy desires and also underscore the importance of safety eyewear. If it goes well, you are guaranteed to find walk-ins enquiring about the latest sports eyewear. That’s your chance to not just showcase your options but keep both variety and price points in your mind while doing so. A word of caution, though, would be to remember not to over prop the place though.
Another very effective trick of encouraging sales as propounded by a leading optometrist of Europe is to put huge life-size mirrors in the store. Most stores block all their walls with either display windows or giant-sized images of models in their sports eyewear. A better idea is to use a lot of lights and mirrors in a way to encourage them to get inspired by the stars yes, but also to try out the various designs for themselves and check out comfort, attractiveness and style. So mirrors and posters are great POPs (Point of Purchase ideas) that tempt prospective buyers to make the commitment to buy.
In-store tricks include smart display, highlighting a theme either by grouping them together on a pedestal with the spotlight on them and a couple of actual equipment relating to the sport is a good idea. For instance when you are displaying golf goggles, a couple of golf balls would attractively accessorise the display.
The trick is to understand how marketing can help. If every display in the store becomes an attention grabber then it’s no fun. A special tableau can be created for sports eyewear. Sometimes displays can change according to the seasonal sports. Try displaying children’s sports eyewear on Children’s Day. Add a few sports props to it, like a hockey stick or ice skates. Make sure your display looks visually appealing. The special attention to detail will attract customers like a moth to a flame, giving them something to mull about. Perhaps your sales tricks may prompt your customers to pick up a sport!