Photochromic lens sales spell a win for both patient satisfaction and practice revenue. Educating patients on the convenience, protection and comfort afforded by photochromic lenses and making them a routine part of the prescribing exercise undeniably enhances photochromic acceptance. Yet, there are certainly other factors that are predictive of photochromic uptake. Understanding the role of your local climate and seasonal impact on photochromic sales provides insight into market forces that influence patient choice. You can use these insights to benchmark your practice’s share of photochromic sales as well as to fine tune marketing strategies.
To explore climate and seasonal effects on photochromic lens sales we tracked lens sales during 2021. We drew data from a representative sample of 1,000 ECP locations distributed across the US in the GPN dataset.
As the amount of sunlight available to trigger photochromic darkening varies by time and place, the month and location of purchase was compared to seasonal sunlight levels at each location. Sunlight here is measured as “insolation” – incoming solar radiation in kilojoules (kj) per square meter. Insolation is tracked by NASA and reported by the CDC. Insolation is affected by latitude and daylight hours as well as cloud cover and air pollution. We matched up state level sunshine, by month, to each location in the dataset.
We grouped results by calendar month for each of the 9 US Census divisions. During 2021, photochromic sales averaged 21.17% across all divisions.
The South Atlantic division had the highest annual photochromic share sales at 24.16% of lenses sold. The weakest photochromic share of lenses occurred in New England, averaging 17.40% for 2021, a relative difference of nearly 39% between the highest and lowest division.
Sunshine is highest in the West South Central division, averaging 19.13K kj, and lowest in the East North Central division where it averages 14.73K kj.
A bell-shaped seasonal pattern in photochromic share of lens sales is evident. Across all divisions, the year begins with January’s share of 20.43%, then peaks midyear in May and June at 22.03%, and drops to 20.34% in December. The relative change from the May/June peak to the December low is a drop of 8.3%.
This seasonal trend of photochromic sales tracks sunlight levels very closely. The correlation between insolation and photochromic sales over time was very high (r=.91). Across all divisions, peak sunshine averages highest in June (25.29K kj) and is lowest in December (7.82K kj). Sun insolation by place is not as strong a predictor of photochromic sales as seasonality, with a significant but lower positive correlation (r=.42) to photochromic sales.
Understanding market forces that influence patient readiness to purchase photochromic lenses is critical to timing strategic marketing of our products and services. Scheduling photochromic messaging to precede or coincide with peak months for photochromic uptake will increase effectiveness. Check your Census division results for benchmarking and to find the peak months for your location and plan accordingly.
Wondering how you can craft strategies to improve performance during the non-peak, seasonal lulls? Highlight the pure convenience of photochromic lenses when moving between the indoors, outdoors and driving. Listen to your patients, are there any outdoor activities that they partake in? Even in areas with the least sunlight during the cold winter months, we can find compelling cases for photochromic lenses. Maybe your business is in a snowy region and they mentioned their love of cross-country skiing or just getting outside for walks. Photochromic lenses surely reduce the eye strain experienced from sunlight bouncing up off the snow. Most importantly, remember to stress eye health and how photochromic lenses benefit your patient by blocking those damaging UV rays.