SEP 2012

EyeWorld is the official news magazine of the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

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September 2012 February 2011 EW REFRACTIVE SURGERY 71 boomers were around 40 years old, which is historically the mean age for LASIK patients. "The youngest baby boomer is now 48, and baby boomers are now 48-66, which puts them well past the mean age of LASIK," he said. Although baby boomers are now, for the most part, looking ahead toward cataract surgery, Mr. Mahdavi said Generation Y—the generation group that is now 17-35 years old—will be a potentially big market for LASIK procedures, espe- cially as they approach 40. "They are just now moving into LASIK [age]. I think this bodes well for the demographics," he said. Still, don't start your surgical prep just yet. You're going to have to work hard to earn this market. "The way you attract Genera- tion Y is the antithesis of the way you attract baby boomers. The population is there, but the demand needs to be cultivated very differ- ently," he said. "They don't read newspapers. They don't watch TV unless they TiVo. They don't listen to radio because they have Pandora, satellite radio, and Spotify. If you do reach them, they don't believe you. Mass marketing does not work," Mr. Mahdavi said, citing widely available demographic research. So what will work to get Generation Y's attention? "They respond to events and what their friends say. They also have close relationships with their parents. If doctors don't respect those things, they won't grow," he said. Ophthalmic surgeons will need to rethink outreach. This may in- volve a consultation with patients' friends instead of a one-to-one con- sultation. Surgeons will also want to create brochures geared toward par- ents, who will likely help patients understand the procedure (and may help chip in for the cost). You'll need to hire people who are open to these newer generational trends. "You have to unlearn what you learned in appealing to the boomers. It's like redesigning your store because you have new customers. You're selling the same thing, but you're selling it differently," Mr. Mahdavi said. The good news for all of oph- thalmology is that it's a time for market growth on both ends of the age spectrum, Mr. Mahdavi said. "You have the boomers ap- proaching cataract surgery age and Generation Y considering LASIK. From a lifestyle healthcare perspec- tive, there has never been a better time to be an ophthalmic surgeon," he said. EW Editors' note: Mr. Mahdavi and Mr. Pinto have no financial interestes related to this article. Contact information Mahdavi: 925-425-9900, shareef@sm2consulting.com Pinto: 619-223-2233, pintoinc@aol.com

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