Internet Research, Purchasing Increasing Among U.S. Eyewear Consumers

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The prevalence of internet use when making a purchasing decision is rising among the American consumer, and though the increase of actual eyeglass purchasing online is small, it too, is steadily rising.

The Vision Council Internet Influence Report was originally developed in 2007 to measure the influence of the internet on the eyewear purchasing activities of Americans who regularly use or have access to the internet.

The 2013 report, which was appended to the November 2013 standard VisionWatch questionnaire and included 26 questions, was sent to approximately 10,000 American adults and received a total of 9,587 responses representing, demographically and psychographically, the U.S. population over the age of 18.

Key points of the survey are as follows:

Over 61 percent of adults surveyed used the internet to directly purchase products “at least occasionally.” When purchasing eyewear, Americans were most likely to use the internet in some way to buy contact lenses, with 29.9 percent using the internet during their last contact lens purchase, 19.7 percent during their most recent plano sunglass purchase, 18.3 during their last Rx eyeglass purchase, and 8.3 percent during their last purchase of OTC readers.

When looking for new eyewear, most Americans are using the internet to “window shop,” compare prices and examine possible brands and retail locations where they might make a purchase in person. However, approximately 23 percent of people using the internet to assist in their last eyewear purchase did make the purchase directly online, with 17.5 percent buying contact lenses, 5.5 percent buying plano sunglasses, 3 to 4 percent purchasing eyeglasses and 2.6 percent buying OTC readers.

2.3 million pairs of Rx eyeglasses were purchased online during the 12ME period September 2013, compared to 2.0 million in 2012 and 1.6, 1.5 and 1.3 million in 2011, 2010 and 2009, respectively. Plano sunglasses showed 5.1 million pairs purchased online in 2013, compared to 4.7 million in 2012. In 2013, 1.4 million online purchases of OTC readers were made compared to 1.2 in 2012, and 15.3 million contact lens purchases were made compared to 14.2 million in 2012.

Additionally, as the study concluded, online eyewear purchase satisfaction showed increase in 2013 and has been increasing over the past four years.