A Holiday Lesson from
How optometrists benefit when people
get excited about $1,000 washers.
THE EXECUTIVE EDITOR, Jim Thomas
While standing 20 people deep in holiday shopping
lines, take heart: Consumers can teach us a valuable lesson. At least Michael J.
Silverstein and Neil Fiske think so.
Willing to pay more
Mr. Silverstein, of Boston Consulting Group, and
Mr. Fiske, CEO of Bath & Body Works, surveyed 2,300 consumers for their
book, Trading Up: The New American Luxury, published by Portfolio. What they
found was that today's consumer is willing to spend more, or trade up, for goods
and services that possess higher levels of quality.
Why would consumers pay more today? According to
the authors, it's because over the past few years, the traditional middle-market
American of modest means has transformed into a "sophisticated and
discerning consumer with high aspirations and substantial buying power and
Which is not to say that there will be a run on
Rolls-Royce Phantoms any time soon. But consumers will purchase top-of-the-line
household appliances, a BMW 3 Series automobile or Starbucks coffee -- items
that are expensive but still within reach of many buyers.
These products are so different and of such
quality, say Mr. Silverstein and Mr. Fiske, that they engage the customer
emotionally. You can test this premise for yourself. Ask the BMW owner to test
drive a Chevy Lumina or in the case of the chocoholic, propose trading your
Snickers bar for some Godiva.
The companies that produce these "accessible
super-premium" items can actually raise prices while other manufacturers in
their categories slug it out in price wars.
Why not optometrists?
What's in this for optometrists? Trading Up
corroborates the advice given by the practice management experts who write
regularly in Optometric Management. To put it another way: If Whirlpool can
inspire passionate customers in categories as mundane as washers and dryers,
then O.D.s can create a practice where unsurpassed excellence, not price,
attracts and keeps patients. Could an investment in new technology, facilities,
specialization and staff training create a super-premium practice? Would the
benefits realized by this practice extend far beyond those of a traditional
At this time of year, OM would like to extend
wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season. And here's to a 2004 that
surpasses your highest expectations!
Optometric Management, Issue: December 2003