Chrystel Barranger, president, Transitions Optical & Essilor

PINELLAS PARK, Fla.—Transitions Optical gathered 10,000 industry professionals from 98 countries in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia online for a first of its kind, global virtual event—Transitions The Pulse. The event was broadcast three times over two days and was translated into 13 different languages for eyecare professionals around the world to join together and feel the love for eyecare. During the virtual summit attendees connected live on screen for the general sessions with Transitions Optical leadership and industry experts; listened to a keynote presentation on the latest retail strategies and future scenarios; heard from experts and educators during breakout sessions on the heartbeat of the industry; and learned from their peers and partners through the sharing of best practices.

Within the general session, Transitions Optical also shared details on several launches and programs for the upcoming year. For eye protection, Transitions Optical shared more details on the upcoming launch of Transitions XTRActive Polarized, the only photochromic polarized lens, and also announced the launch of a new generation of Transitions XTRActive lenses that are even darker and faster than the previous generation.

To help eyecare professionals style Transitions lenses, Transitions Optical created Transitions collections in collaboration with frame design partners that show the best combinations of frames and Transitions lenses based on the eyewear trends for Spring/Summer 2021.

Transitions Optical also will launch new tools to help eyecare professionals simplify the increasingly digital consumer journey. In early 2021, an updated version of the virtual try-on at will be available, as well as a new tool for consumers to book an appointment with ECPs directly on the website.

To open the event, Chrystel Barranger, president Transitions Optical & Essilor Europe, welcomed attendees for a global overview of the state of the industry in the Transitions Studio, a modern loft where she and others connected in-person and virtually with expert speakers from the optical industry.

Barranger observed, “We are today in a volatile reality after a brutal 2020. As we [Transitions Optical] wanted to light it up, it went suddenly dark.”

Noting “the incredible resilience of our optical industry,” Barranger said Transitions, which has “a privileged position and a global perspective” wants to use The Pulse to “share back and use our knowledge about the facts we’ve gathered, the changes in behavior we have seen happening and the best practices we have curated so it can benefit all as we start 2021.”

She articulated three main themes for the conference, starting with eye protection, which Barranger said “has never been more at the center of patients’ needs.” As she observed, “With lockdowns, working from home and intense digital usage, everyone feels the eye pain, the eye tiredness and the vision challenges. Feeling protected and safe is what [consumers] want. They realize that eye protection relies on the lenses and their quality. They’re searching online and come to you, the guardians of eye health, for the best protection advice.”

The second theme was eye style, which Barranger said is getting “even more crucial as a key territory for self-expression” since people are now wearing a mask in most social interactions. She noted that Transitions will be introducing several style collections in which the latest frame trends are paired with Transitions colors and style colors.

Speaking about the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barranger said the optical industry is fortunate to be among the “winning industries” that have benefitted from new consumer shopping behaviors and appointment booking and digital opportunities are accelerating. We are investing to be on the forefront of these developments.”

Elise Bioche, vice president, Global Marketing.

Elise Bioche, vice president, global marketing, cited a worldwide study conducted by Transitions that asked consumers about their greatest concerns about COVID-19. They found that 86 percent of respondents said that protecting their health, and the health of their family, is more important than ever. Seventy percent said that protecting their eyes is more important than ever. Health is at the center of their concerns, and eyecare has become a serious matter that people are more aware of.”

Bioche introduced Dr. Francine Behar-Cohen, an ophthalmologist and professor at the Universite Paris Descartes, who discussed the cumulative effect of long-term exposure to different types of light. Commenting on the increasing amount of time that people are spending staring at digital screens since the start of the pandemic, Dr. Behar-Cohen remarked that “people are suffering.” She noted that repetitive blue light exposure is probably a contributing factor to dry eye and other ocular conditions.

Brian O’Neill, vice president, Global Innovation, Technology & Operations.
Brian O’Neill, vice president, global innovation, technology & operations, announced that Transitions XtraActive Polarized, which has already been launched in the U.S. by Younger Optics, will begin a full-scale rollout in July 2021 in the U.S. and Canada.

Following the general session, internationally renowned author and keynote speaker Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, shared his unique perspective on retailing, business and consumer behavior.

Stephens talked about the impact he believes COVID-19 will have on brands, consumers and retailers, especially as they all tie into the exploding area of e-commerce. Stephens said he likes to call this period today “the end of the beginning” of e-commerce.”

He added, “If we were to look back 50 years from now at the history of e-commerce, we would find that where we are right now with Amazon as we know it today, is pretty much chapter one … and that should not come as a surprise.”

He noted that if one was to stop on a street corner in any part of the world and look around, “virtually everything in your field of vision is a product of the industrial era. These are legacy assets that no one would have gone to the trouble of building in the digital era.”

For this reason, he said, it’s reasonable to assume that COVID-19 is not just acceleration of things that may have happened anyway, but more as the most significant step into a new digital age.

After the keynote presentation, the virtual event concluded with a selection of breakout sessions that included:

• Advancements in Photochromic Technology: Solutions for today's world ABO presented by Pete Hanlin
• Offer Your Patients the Best: How to Evaluate Photochromic Performance and Claims presented by Chris King, Mayara Castillo, and Dr. Christopher Lievens
• Leading with Emotional Intelligence presented by Margaret Cooley, M.A.
• Leading Through Change in Turbulent Times presented by Dr. Joseph Carella
• Social Media 101 presented by Samantha Toth

Charlotte Hamel, director, Global Internal Communications, PR and Events.
“We always strive to be a light for the optical industry and a community builder,” said Patience Cook, director North America Marketing, Transitions Optical. “And that was our motivation for hosting Transitions The Pulse. We’re in a unique position to partner with professionals in many industry verticals across the globe and we wanted to share the knowledge we gathered over the last year, the behavior changes we have seen happening, and the best practices we curated so we can all start the new year together strong.”

Additional expert speakers included:

• Matteo Battiston, global head of Design and Consumer Insights, Luxottica Group
• Charlotte Hamel, director Global Internal Communications, PR and Events
• Stephane Cairole, managing director and senior partner, BCG
• Jacob Mann, associate director, Retail, Transitions Optical
• Sheena Taff, optician and owner, Roberts & Brown Opticians

Dr. Darryl Glover, optometrist, MyEyeDr. and Vincent Biessy, general manager, Atol also made an appearance during the general session with contributions and questions for the presenters.

As attendees tuned in early to prepare for the opening general session, they were surprised with a special DJ performance from Coco and Breezy, Transitions influencers and co-founders of Coco and Breezy Eyewear, to build excitement before the start of the event.

Highlights from the event, and bonus content including a follow-up Q&A with keynote speaker Stephens, will be made available on a new virtual learning platform in February 2021.