Has the 1-800-CONTACTS Bubble Burst?
Just like the dotcom bubble burst in March of 2000, so will the 1-800-CONTACTS bubble soon do the same, if it hasn't already. The cracks are already beginning to show. Online contact lens sales are down anyway, and Alcon and J&J both recently announced "unilateral pricing policies", i.e. no longer will WalMart or 1-800-CONTACTS (or anyone else) get special pricing. For the retailers it means everyone is back on a level playing field and in-office convenience now trumps online bulk pricing. Uh oh, 1-800's. That was their niche and they just lost it. Local retailers get to price-match the online retailers and WalMart can no longer afford to sell $12.59 boxes of Acuvues. I am super broken up about it, too [/sarcasm]. 1-800-CONTACTS talks a big game but consistenly makes the prescribing doctors mad by marketing directly to the consumer, having some questionable-at-best business practices designed to ("IMO", see what I did there?) circumvent the verification portion of state optometry laws, and backing legislation (with big dollars!) that would allow opticians to refract and Rx's to be avilable w/o seeing a doctor. Does this sound like a company that has patients best interests in mind? I find it um, rewarding... yeah that's the word I'm looking for... that the contact lens companies have finally figured out that WalMart and 1-800-CONTACTS are not their friends. They never were, but the manufacturers were wooed by the promise of HUGE sales if they offered BIG/deep price cuts. What, it's not working anymore? You don't say? 1-800-CONTACTS in its heyday openly taunted optometrists with their advertising (remember the "your eyes are not special" and "the number is on the box" ad campaigns?), and even went so far as to have employees (I won't name names but his initials are "M.C.") come onto optometry related bulletin boards and taunt/argue with/make fun of OD's and their attempts at competing for sales. They basically made themselves detested by the profession and it finally, finally is coming back to bite them. Can't say I'm too surpised, nor am I upset. Maybe I'll call 1-800-JUST-DESERTS and talk about it with them. Edit: I just found out that the #specialeyes ad campagn is ongoing.