The 3 C’s for Attracting and Retaining Millennials

By Matthew Alpert, OD January 02, 2015

There’s a lot of industry talk lately about changes in how consumers view eye care. That’s not just due to technology. It’s also due to a new generation of consumers that already represents a third of the U.S. population—the millennials, who currently range in age from 18 to 33.

Have you heard millennials referred to as “echo boomers”? That’s because this generation matches the baby boomers in size and are poised to make a similar impact on the economy. Vision Monday just published "Meet the Millennials" as an introduction to their 2015 Millennial Project. It ran alongside a letter from VSP Vision Care President Jim McGrann about the need for our industry to prepare for change.

As a third-generation optometrist at Alpert Vision Care, I’ve been looking at how to prepare my practice for the next generation. What I’ve learned is that attracting and retaining millennials comes down to three things: choice, convenience, and care.

  1. Choice. Because millennials are less loyal to their eye care provider when it comes to materials, it’s important to have an expansive frame board with a wide selection. Don’t leave money on the table just because you don’t have the frame selection millennials expect.

  2. Convenience. With consumer-directed health care on the rise, millennials have had to take a more personal interest in their health care options and are savvier about their benefits. Empower them with electronic health records (EHR) and have a competitive strategy—matching prices, offering same-day turnaround with onsite edging, or other value-added services.

  3. Care. Set your practice apart for millennials, who are looking for an experience, by incorporating the latest technology. Whether it’s the iPad you use to record exam results to your EHR, retinal imaging, or the app you use to take measurements for digital lenses (no Sharpie required), be excited about it and explain how the technology you use is giving them better care.


Of course, some things span the generations. A welcoming environment can make a difference with all of your patients. Does everyone get a friendly greeting? Are the reading materials current, and is there fresh content playing on the TV in the waiting room? Do you offer water or freshly brewed coffee and tea? You can even try subtle scents or lighting appropriate for the season or holidays.

One final note: Remember that you and your staff are the key differentiator. You've probably heard that millennials avoid mass marketing. By offering an exceptional experience, you can turn that into a plus for your practice. This generation relies on word of mouth, whether in person or through social media. A positive experience in your practice can keep them coming back.

As I see it, if we deliver the choice, convenience, and care the millennials expect, we’ll keep our practices growing into the future.

Edited January 22, 2015

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