Monday, December 19, 2011

No. 14: Who said opticians are only for myopic and hyperopic people? (December 20, 2011)

With the spread of the Internet, it is growing rather hard to quantify consumer behaviors precisely. Market research is no longer a mighty tool. Hunch and instinct are dangerous tools. However hard you may try to know in advance how much your product will be accepted by the market, no consumers can realize how wonderful your product is before they see and touch it.

JINS, an optician chain that focuses on low-priced eyewear, doubled its sales over the level in two years ago to about 15 billion yen. Given the fact that the current eyewear market shrank 30% from the peak, the results of this optician chain are rather striking. The president asked himself, “Is an optician for only myopic and hyperopic people?” He launched eyewear that blocks off blue light coming from the PC monitor supposed to deteriorate the function of the retina. He further prepared several kinds of unmagnified eyewear depending on playing scene for golfers. More than 10% of the visitors of this optician chain are neither myopic nor hyperopic.

He asked himself again, “Why does the price of eyewear depend on magnification, even though the price of shirts does not vary with body size?” In this optician chain, the price of eyewear does not vary with magnification. It varies only with the lens quality. These ideas let the chain grow business rapidly. For your information, the president is neither myopic nor hyperopic. Headquarters of this chain does not hold a regular meeting. Staff members get together and hold a meeting whenever they come across an interesting idea and discuss what they should do to create something new.

Consumers are naturally capricious. For example, McDonald's launched a hearty hamburger named Quarter Ponder despite the current health-conscious trend. It sells fast, while the hamburger it launched following the Korean boom did not sell as fast as the company predicted beforehand. What is important now seems to be an organization and company climate to create something new that surprises consumers.

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