Optrafair part 2 – fierce competition!

Natasha Szombara, Account Manager of Meditech at FMC Global Talent.
Natasha Szombara, Account Manager of Meditech at FMC Global Talent.

At Optrafair 2018 FMC were amazed at the new generation of tools that are being launched to bring optometry practice and the experience of eyewear customers into the 21st century.

There seemed to be a key focus on two areas…

1. Retinal imaging, OCT and Dry Eye treatment technologies dominated the floor…

OCT and retinal imaging systems appeared to be the hottest products showcased at the event with Carl Zeiss, Optos, Topcon, Heidelberg and Birmingham Optical Group all competing for their slice of the pie!

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house! It was amazing to see how many dry eye treatment products are on offer, from eye drops through to pulsed light technologies. This market is saturated with options and is highly competitive.
New to FMC eyes were the products on offer from EasyScan and E-Eye, it was great to see new technologies launching into the market through emerging OEMs.

2. Giving opticians the technology to create a more engaging experience for the customer

Looking back to the days before I discovered contact lenses one of the most frustrating things as an eyewear customer was not being able to properly see how my glasses were going to look before purchasing. Sound familiar?

Innovative solutions from companies like ACEP now enable the customer to try before they buy – their product doesn’t only create an entirely new and engaging buying experience, but also provides a level of customisation never seen before. With a strong foot-print in the French market, it’ll be interesting to see how these products are received in the UK.

Who, what, where and when!

The biggest brands were out in force over the weekend, and being able to take a back seat and watch the shop floor was incredibly interesting and insightful.

My last blog highlighted how significant CET sessions are in attracting customers to the stands – it was great to see so many optometrists engaged in learning about the technological advancements!

The FMC Meditech team saw this as a great opportunity to deepen our understanding of the products that our clients bring to the market, and the level of support that is required in the commercial process.

Fierce competition

What was evident was the level of competition and how some OEMs and distributors are working on an almost level playing field, particularly in respect to OCTs.

Knee-deep in the OCT roll-out, Specsavers have selected their two preferred suppliers; Nidek through Birmingham Optical Group and Heidelberg Engineering. These organisations are geared up to deliver on this initiative. Birmingham Optical are storming their way through, having built immense internal capabilities to support their supplier Nidek with the penetration of the Specsavers market. Their commitment and resource allocation to this project was really noticeable, and I’m looking forward to seeing how their offering strengthens over the next 12 months.

The launch of the Partner 2020 programme in 2017 alongside the OCT roll-out means I don’t see this hive of activity within Specsavers slowing down anytime soon!

But is the independents market there for the taking?

I feel there is a huge window of opportunity for OCT manufacturers and distributors to mop-up outside the multi-national chains and work the independents market to their advantage.

Whilst some of the other OCT manufacturers have a higher price point than the Nidek systems; do they have any technological advantages that the independents can use as a USP for their services against optical chains?

Smaller brands taking centre stage

The Optician Awards 2018 took place on the Saturday evening during the event and there was an electric atmosphere amongst exhibitors that were competing to get their accolade!

Whilst we didn’t attend the awards, we were really excited to see companies like Caledonian Optical winning the Lens Product of the Year award. It just goes to show it isn’t always the largest brands that take the glory!

Ultra-widefield imaging – a race to the top of the market

The competition within retinal imaging and wide-field imaging was incredibly tense. I think this is still quite an emerging technology with new advancements and capabilities yet to be seen.

The Optos and Heidelberg stands were thriving, but the Clarus system now offered by Zeiss certainly appeared to heat-up the competition!

We’re certainly excited to see how these technologies and developments will impact the eye care market.

If you’d like to find out more about the eye care market, including information about salary trends, companies and product releases, you can download a copy of our Eye Care Talent Report here or contact me at natasha.szombara@fmctalent.com!

To read my review of Optrafair 2018, click here.