I get it…not everyone likes working with kids. They can
be noisy, stubborn, spoiled and altogether unpleasant little
However, according to Anup Shah, who blogs on Global
Issues, “Children (under 12) and teens influence parental
purchases totaling over …$670 billion a year.” Pre-teens
and teenagers now marshal “$200 billion in spending power”
each year, a total that has risen dramatically over the past
Not tapping into this market is to miss more than just a
demographic, it means closing your dispensary to an
important and influential source of revenue.
There was a time when kid’s frames were much smaller
versions of adult frames. Think “Clark Kent” rectangles
and pastel colored cat eyes. Kids wore eyeglasses because
they had to, not because they wanted to. Now they can choose
to look like their favorite cartoon, TV, music or movie
star. Marketing to kids is huge business.
Kenmark's Thalia Girls 6 piece
The good news is that glasses are cool. Kids have traded
in Steve Urkle’s oversize goggles for Justin Bieber’s
uber-cool geek chic. The bad news is that nearly every frame
manufacturer has collections for kids of all ages and you
get to plumb the depths of the very young psyche to discover
how to attract them (and their parents) to your dispensary
and which collections to highlight.
Where to start?
Location, location, location. Don’t relegate the kids
section to a dusty, out-of-the-way corner. Don’t fill it
with pint-sized furniture and splashes of primary colors
from floor to ceiling. Rather, incorporate kid’s eyewear
into your current dispensary layout. Why separate kids from
their parents? Statistically, a child will ask for an item
nine times before a parent will give in and purchase. Tweens
admit to asking their parents more than 50 times for
products they’ve seen advertised.
Marilyn Read, an associate professor of design and human
environment at Oregon State University found that in
(preschool) spaces with one red wall, versus uniformly white
walls, children were more cooperative. However when spaces
offered a multitude of colors, children became over
stimulated and often anxious. She concluded that a single
color in a classroom…seems to offer a sense of security.
In a current study involving young children with
sensory-processing issues, the evidence seems to suggest
that such kids are better able to focus in the presence of a
single color fabric hanging no matter what the color. “If
people want children to act in a calmer way, they should go
with blue or another cooler color,” she advises.
Soft furnishings, like floor pillows or bean bag-style
seating can help continue the calm vibe that color creates.
A small table, not a short table, and adjustable height
seating will work for both fitting and dispensing. Just be
sure that there’s an extra chair for Mom or Dad. In
addition to the POP displays provided by frame
manufacturers, look for photographs of current young
celebrities wearing cool (and Rx-able) glasses. Because
today’s kids are exposed to every imaginable media source,
consider mounting digital picture frames programmed with
cool looks in glasses, sports eyewear and sunglasses. Those
images won’t fade and are easily changed as trends change.
What’s hot or cool or whatever. Kids change their “favorites”
almost as often as they change their “best friends forever”
pinky-swears. If you don’t have kids to help you keep up
with trends, find some. Corral nieces and nephews,
grandchildren or neighbors kids of all ages. Ask them to
help. Make them your “official consultants.” According
to the Kaiser Family Foundation, by the time the typical
child enters 4th grade, they will have memorized 300-400
brands and will be exposed to the equivalent of 8 ½ hours a
day of media content.
What will appeal to the elementary school set will not
work for a middle-school-er. It goes without saying that
tweens and teenagers wouldn’t be caught alive in the kids
section of anything. They consider themselves young adults
and expect to be treated as such.
Brands like Disney and Nickelodeon will always be popular
with younger patients. SpongeBob SquarePants has nearly 30
million Facebook fans, though about a third of them are
adults. That’s Lady GaGa territory! Disney is a marketing
empire that carefully controls its image, so much so that
they now promote vacation packages to adults without
children at home as well as families.
SmartyPants® is a consulting company specializing in
families and children. Their annual study of brands that
American kids and parents love most and why, called Young
Love™, ranks 250 brands by their Kidfinity™ and
Momfinity™ scores. These are proprietary measures of kid/tween
and Mom brand awareness, popularity and love based on more
than 100,000 responses across 20+ categories. At the top of
the list—Wii. At number 9—Disney and at number 17—Nickelodeon.
These are brands with staying power, the brands that your
practice can count on to hit their target market year in and
According to a study conducted through the University of
Michigan, kids as young as 3 recognized brands including:
McDonalds(“They have a playground”)
Lego(“If I have it, everyone wants to come to my
house and play”)
My Little Pony
Coke(“The bubbles are really fun and you can blow
bubbles and it’s like a volcano”)
The tween and teen markets rely on “image” almost as
much as they do a specific brand name. These are the years
when young people are defining themselves in many ways. It’s
often a strange mix of jaw-dropping individuality and an
intense need to be accepted by their peers. You cannot be as
“cool” as they perceive themselves to be, so don’t
try. Talk to them the same way you talk to older patients,
asking the same kinds of questions about how and when they
wear their glasses and what they like or don’t like about
their current specs.
Now, about the lenses. Most kids don’t care; all
parents do. Both Trivex and polycarbonate materials are the
accepted norm for active children, tweens and teens. Since
they spend an inordinate amount of time in front of video
monitors, a durable anti-reflective treatment should also be
recommended. In fact, packaging those options is a smart
move. Call it the “gamers package” or the “geek chic
package” and create a “try-on” area complete with a
video monitor for demonstration. If you have the space,
create a sports eyewear “try-on” area to demonstrate
sport-specific eyewear and lens options, such as polarized,
sport-specific tints and variable tints.
However you look at it, kids are consumers. They are “brand
aware” and they represent a huge block of spending power.
Love ‘em or not, you really can’t afford to let them
slip away from your practice.