Essilor International recently introduced its new Varilux Comfort Max lens equipped with a unique Flex Optim™ technology in the Indian market. To find out more about this innovative new product, The Indian Optician caught up with Mr. NS RAGHAVAN, the Country Manager for Essilor South Asia region, who has been ably leading his team in various capacities since the last fifteen years.
Mr. RAGHAVAN’s strategic leadership is responsible for the growing popularity of Essilor’s vast portfolio of brands in the South Asian region. In a short and informative discussion with TIO, he talks about varied important topics pertaining to the trade and industry, his journey at Essilor and the launch of the new product range. Given below are a few excerpts from the conversation that ensued.…
The Indian Optician (TIO): You have been with Essilor for more than 15 years now. Please share your journey with this company.
NS RAGHAVAN (NSR): It has been truly amazing and exciting and I am very fortunate to have worked across all business verticals over the past 15 years.
I joined in 2005 as a Regional Sales head and eventually went on to Head Marketing and Sales force effectiveness for Essilor brands. I was given the mandate to build overall market equity and was directly involved in building Crizal as the leading consumer brand in its category. Crizal is a super brand for 5 consecutive years now. With a new found love for marketing, I went on to head marketing for the entire Group and also managed strategic accounts. With an immersive business and marketing understanding thanks to the opportunities I was given, my next mandate was to manage the Essilor Joint venture business which I did for a couple of years, before taking over as the Country Manager for South Asia for the Group.
TIO: You are presently serving the company as Country Manager for Essilor South Asia region. What do your current responsibilities entail?
NSR: As the country leader, my biggest responsibility is to inspire every Essilorian to give back to the community by ways of their work and knowledge.
Our mission at Essilor is to help people see more, be more and live life to the fullest. All of us at Essilor are driven by the mission, which is at the core of our strategy. We are very passionate about this.
Having said that – my key responsibility includes working closely with our trade partners and key opinion leaders, seeking their inputs, identifying newer business opportunities across, delivering on the business metrics and most importantly, working towards ensuring the well-being of my colleagues and the success of our trade partners.
TIO: What are the major changes you have witnessed in the trade and industry during your tenure?
NSR: Change is constant and our industry has been witnessing this too. Even today our category is highly underpenetrated and provides us all with an immense opportunity.
To begin with, our industry like any other had its own evolutionary curve. The first evolution I experienced is the transformation from glass to plastic and other materials, making it more consumer friendly-durable, lighter and easy to dispense. This transformation has been further accelerated and supported in terms of significant investments in technology and innovation both at the backend and front end. Today we hardly get to see mineral lenses. This has been quite amazing.
The other transformation is designing of lenses to suit the consumers unique lifestyle…earlier it was one size fits all. However, today the active lifestyle a consumer leads calls for different vision solutions. The ability to personalise lenses as per their lifestyle is the hero of the hour and this is something Essilor takes great pride in showcasing.
All the lenses we launch are consumer validated. From lens material innovations to innovative lens designs, to coatings and specific tools to dispense, it’s an absolute Bespoke service and has truly transformed the way we do business.
From the retail standpoints things have evolved, from a family-owned business retail to chains to omni-channel, hospitals… catering to every type of consumer and price points, with varied offering.
It is very competitive out there and exciting for the consumer. It’s great to see all these retail formats adapting, coexisting and trying their best to grow with their very unique consumer-centric offerings.
From a consumer stand point the engagement with the category has gone up significantly over the years which is great news. They yearn for good quality products and brands to address their specific lifestyle needs, seek high quality dispensing and eventually value for money. We as Essilor group have innovated ourselves to cater to their ever-rowing needs and the journey does not stop. That’s what makes it even more exciting!
Overall, the whole evolution has been very constructive and moving towards a brighter tomorrow but what has not changed is the relationship quotient at every aspect of our business ie. B2B and B2C and I am happy that it has remained intact and hope it stays that way.
TIO: Essilor has recently introduced Varilux Comfort Max. How is this lens different from the earlier Varilux Comfort 3.0 lens?
NSR: We firmly believe that every obstacle comes with a hidden opportunity and this pandemic has been no different. All of us are witnessing a huge shift in the way we lead our lives, right from our work patterns, our fitness regime, eating habits, how we consume information – via digital route, entertainment via OTT platforms etc.
All of these are reasons enough to cause extreme eye fatigue and the expectations from spectacle lenses has increased manifolds. This has propelled our R&D scientists to bring a breakthrough in the lens calculation algorithms which have made possible power distribution across lens surface in a manner that makes it possible for the wearers to see more, do more. The Varilux Comfort Max lenses have been crafted with a unique Flex Optim™ technology which gives the wearers more postural flexibility to view from multiple angles and zones, without affecting the visual quality.
TIO: Please elaborate on the Flex Optim™ technology used in the Varilux Comfort Max lenses. How does this benefit the wearer?
“It’s great to see all these retail formats adapting, coexisting and trying their best to grow with their very unique consumer-centric offerings ”
NSR: Keeping wearers at heart, 15 distinct vision profiles were carefully developed based on extensive analysis of the needs and preferences of a large set of Varilux lens wearers. Essilor’s design calculator automatically determines the optimal vision profile from the correction and addition that is ordered for the customer. Flex Optim™ technology ensures the Varilux® Comfort Max lenses are adjusted to each individual, beyond their vision profile. It calculates each customer’s lens progression profile. That way, it is perfectly adjusted to each individual’s unique prescription for smooth focusing from near too far. It offers +227 more postures to do the same tasks, hence offering more postural flexibility to wearers.
TIO: What is the market response to Comfort Max?
NSR: Varilux Comfort is the most preferred progressive lens design by eye care practitioners worldwide. It is already the highest selling progressive lens design within the progressive lens family. With an innovation to the most loved ECP lens brand coming in, the trade is even more excited and the response has been phenomenal. The reviews from consumers and Ecps is enthralling and the reflection is seen in the sales volumes.
TIO: Will both these versions be available to existing customers or will Varilux Comfort 3.0 be removed from the market?
NSR: Well, all the benefits of Varilux Comfort 3.0, such as Total comfort system, High resolution vision due to the Wave 2.0 technology shall fully exist in Varilux Comfort Max lenses. Moreover, Comfort Max lenses promises increased postural flexibility, even over Comfort 3.0 by offering up to +227 more postures to carry out the same tasks. Hence, we would not be continuing Comfort 3.0 and shall urge all ECPs to upgrade Comfort orders onto Varilux Comfort Max lenses.
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