This article originally appeared in the July 2016 edition of INVISION.
Each year, without fail, a client will call us up saying something along these lines: “We want to sell more eyeglasses and sunglasses to Millennials.” My reply is something like this, “I want to be 4 inches taller. More than likely, both of us will wake up disappointed tomorrow.” You can wish all day long you had a younger clientele, but getting them to shop with you is a very different thing. It’s sort of like changing your DNA. There is a reason Millennials don’t spend a lot of time or money at Brooks Brothers, or aging baby boomers at Urban Outfitters. Your focus, whether intentional or accidental, targets a specific demographic and psychographic. Shouldn’t you make the most of it?
A recent phone call from an established family-owned chain of optical stores said the staff of one of their stores suggested they market to a younger audience. This location has been part of their chain for over 20 years. They had an established clientele and a record of profitable sales based on their location and selection of brands. A ZIP code analysis of this location shows that the average age was 50.1 years old, while the average age of that state was just over 39. In addition, the average income in that ZIP code was $80,000 a year, while the statewide average was $67,000.
To now want to attract Millennials brings up a whole set of questions. Are they located where Millennials shop? (Obviously not.) Are they selling product Millennials want? (Very doubtful.) Can their staff connect with Millennials and offer advice that will be trusted and taken? (Or do they remind Millennials of Mom and Dad?) Is the ambience in the store appealing to Millennials? The answer to all those questions in this case was no. This small chain had spent two decades successfully buying for and selling to the affluent, albeit aging, demographic that inhabits that area. Spending time and money trying to appeal to a whole new demographic without changing the look, feel, product mix and quite possibly the staffing of a store, even if the demographics are favorable, has about the same chance as me waking up needing a bunch of longer pants.
As I hope I have demonstrated, going after Millennials, certainly for this store, would be an expensive and futile exercise.
Instead of contemplating revolution, they should consider evolution. Knowing the demographics of the area, simply expanding their product mix just a little and marketing to target 40- to 50-year-olds would be a minor change for an already successful store, giving them serious growth potential without throwing out the baby with the bath water.
What is the genome of your practice?
Daniel Feldman is CEO of dba designs & communication, a web design, marketing and social media firm specializing in helping eyecare practices succeed. Learn more at dbadesigns.com.