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Don’t get caught in the middle

I’ve been getting back into podcasts of late. True crime, comedy, politics and business – the usual sort of things. Adverts in the podcasting realm tend to be based on sponsorship of the show, with presenters talking (or singing in Adam

Buxton’s case) about the product or brand from a script or crib sheet. It’s pretty blunt stuff but coming from the hosts offers additional gravitas.

Disruptive brands tend to feature heavily on the rota of podcast adverts, which makes sense given that listeners tend to be in a younger and dare I say it, more open-minded demographic.

There’s a common theme within the adverts, no matter what the product is – the removal of ‘the middleman’ from the consumer buying process. Clothing, mattresses, cannabis oil and even bed sheets all have disruptors looking to bypass mark-up and middlemen so that the savings can be ‘passed on to you, the customer’. It’s all very noble.

Eyewear retailers feature too, but rather than a faceless retail brand playing the role of the money-making mark-up middleman being taken out if the picture, it’s the eye care professional. And this, should be a worry.

American chain Warby Parker featured on one particular US podcast – nothing wrong that. However, the presenters talked about their own experiences buying eyewear, including the frustrations of ‘having to see the eye doctor’ and paying ‘over the odds for designer glasses.’ Their ‘experience’ with Warby Parker was markedly different and naturally they waxed lyrical to an impressionable audience.

Retail optics shouldn’t be forced to prove that it’s more than a middleman, but it can’t control how these disruptors operate. It can, however, respond. It can provide a level of care, service and consumer experience that most disruptive brands don’t even try to offer.

Simon Jones, deputy editor


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Optician is the weekly, paid-for information source for optometrists, dispensing opticians and the optical industry. For 127 years Optician has been the independent voice for eye care professionals, students and business owners offering breaking news, analysis and education. In print and online, Optician provides an array of clinical, business and technology articles, comprehensive CET

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23 August 2019 OPTICIAN 3

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