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So far in 2017, we haven’t just counted down a new year. We’ve also sworn in a new president. And, as with any freshly minted administration, we have as many questions as answers.

So, what do we actually know about how 2017 will impact patients, and, therefore, you? Here’s a look at just a few trends that will affect consumers--aka patients—as well as ECPs.

However you view it, one thing is for certain: 2017 will be a sure-to-go-down-in-the-history-books kind of year.

1. DIFFERENTIATION. While retail as a whole is expected to grow around 2% this year, operations that differentiate themselves with better products as well as a better experience have been reporting a cumulative annual growth rate of 13%, according to The National Retail Federation. What to do? Look at your mix of products and the patient experience to make sure customers and patients place you in that top tier.

2. DEMOGRAPHICS. Each generation of patients processes information differently. Make certain that your style of communication matches each target audience. Millennials, for example, will respond to their peers and experiential environments (including online ones), while boomers will be influenced by authorities/experts, evidential information, and value.

3. TECHNOLOGY. In this era of electronic health records, most patients say they’re comfortable with and, in fact, expect some degree of digital health technology. They expect it to be integrated—though seamlessly—into the patient/doctor and increasingly into the customer/dispenser experience. Invest now or younger patients will likely look for someone who has already built that balance into their business.

4. EDUCATION. Thanks to increased coverage online and in print, patients say they are now more aware of the dangers of blue light, the potential of wearables, and the availability of customization. Make sure your messaging and offerings take advantage of that augmented awareness.

So, what can you do to participate in and respond to trends as they unfold throughout the year? Consumers—that is, patients—are more engaged than in any recent decade. That includes everything from politics to healthcare.

So, what’s the answer? Be there or, as your boomer patients would say, be square.

Vision Voice is a monthly e-newsletter reaching over 50,000 ECPs in the Vision Expo community. It features articles on all things eyecare and eyewear including practice management tips, optical news and market updates, fashion trends, professional development and more.

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