The humanization of optical stores through space design

Since the birth of optical sotres, the priorities of these health centers have been to take care of the patient’s health through the quality of the product and the professionalism of the optometrist. Today, optical stores, such as retail spaces, have entered a spiral of innovation with the adoption of leisure spaces in accordance with new trends and, in turn, more friendly and humanized spaces where the consumer is the main actor.

The transformation of retail encompasses a double connotation of consumption and leisure. Going shopping means not only supplying or covering basic needs, but it is already a regular activity on our leisure agenda. This evolution of retail affects all health services (sight, hearing or mental health) that go from treating the user as a ‘patient’, much more linked to a medical component, to a ‘consumer’ treatment, much more linked to the fashion sphere.

The consumer, with the emergence of new communication channels and the influence of advertising, has been the protagonist of this change of conception with the transformation of a basic need into a desire. Thus, the famous brackets or glasses have adopted the same importance as any other garment. They are no longer hidden, but proudly displayed. These cultural changes make derogatory and embarrassing terms like “gafotas”( goofy goggles, in english) or “cuatro ojos” (four eyes in english) disappear. Now, consumers buy more than one pair of glasses, sunglasses or eyewear, and they are a further complement to clothing, as well as jewelry.

This change in conception has an immediate effect on the transformation of the optician spaces, now understood as retail, and involves new models of strategic management and codes of conduct in commercial management.

In addition, new proposals to transform the space are also interesting: we went from the neatness of white to the use of warmer materials such as wood, exposed brick, textiles and even referring to crafts or others more sophisticated with the use of old elements and others more contemporaries. This hybridization of materials is a translation of the imaginary of the medical sector to the proximity to the consumer that is sought and promoted from the retail.

In this way, leisure proposals emerge in a different place with a basic premise: the ‘stage box’ is designed taking into account that the main actor is not the product, but the consumer. The optics is transformed into a more informal, humanized, friendly and flexible place designed for families with children with the incorporation of children’s playground areas, and the exhibition of fashionable, daily and fresh products such as the sports optics section.

The opticians must look for new commercial alternatives focused on excellence in the shopping experience and on a product offer adapted to the needs of the target audience. The optical retailer must find strategies to encourage and boost consumption, always thinking of the main actor, the consumer.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that the optics sector, like dental centers, is still closely linked to the health service. For this reason, a significant number of clients visit the opticians in search of a reference in advice in the field of visual health. Precisely, the design of spaces must encourage the raison d’être of the opticians: to allow that relational and trust bond between the client and the eye specialist. It is important that the spaces allow this link that facilitates high customer loyalty and sustained business growth. Take a look at the conceptual design project of an optical store, a work done by the Grup Idea Strategy and Design team.

Miquel Àngel Julià,

Architect and Director of Strategy and Design at Grup Idea