Service design strategy to transform sales process of tunable spectacles


The brief

The venture philanthropist, James Chen, co-founded eyewear company Adlens in 2005 with a single mission, to create a world where everyone has access to eye care and spectacles.  In 2011, Chen founded ‘Vision for a Nation’ a charity that is innovating change throughout Africa, delivering local eye care and affordable glasses to some of the World’s poorest communities.   One such innovation is the provision of low-cost adjustable focal lens glasses that allows people to set their own prescription.

Adlens adjustable lens eyewear with a tuning dial to adjust the focus.

Following years of producing low-cost self-adjusting lenses for the developing world, Adlens turned their attention to a new market.  Targeting the 45+ age group, many of whom have a declining vision and cannot get on with traditional varifocal lenses, Adlens had ambitions to create high-value, self-focusing glasses.  Unfortunately, their first generation of progressive adaptive lenses was challenging to produce and were not selling well.

Unable to change the physical product design, Adlens engaged business consultants, McKinsey, to help them improve the commercial performance of their eyewear business and design studio, tangerine, to help them to understand why this innovative technology was not being adopted by their target market.

Adaptive lenses give a wide field of vision using prescriptions lenses for near, mid and far viewing distances, which are selected by the customer using a dial on the frame.

Key insights

tangerine’s design research team began by interviewing the senior stakeholders from Adlens and completed ethnographic and market research with leading opticians and Eye-Care Practitioners (ECPs) to learn about the consultation and sales process within the industry.

tangerine found that the low uptake of adaptive eyewear was down to the user benefits of the product not being made clear, or even demonstrated, to the customer by the eye doctor. A poor sales strategy was compounded by inadequate staff training, which meant that ECPs and salespeople were not being given the tools that they needed to effectively sell the glasses to potential adopters.

Critically, the focus across Adlens’ marketing communication was on describing the capability of the technology, not the benefits that the technology could bring, a subtle but important differential.  In addition, this premium range of eye ware shared its’ name with Alden’s low-cost self-adjustable glasses, which further undermined the brand’s value.

THE PROBLEM: Before engaging tangerine, Adlen’s had inconsistent brand messaging across their point of sale, consumers didn’t understand the benefits of the technology and the brand identity was not appropriate for premium eye-wear.

“The problem was that there was no clear value proposition to customers,” explains tangerine’s CEO, Martin Darbyshire. “Adlens’ premium glasses, with the unique adaptive lens technology, were being confused with their lower-cost variable-focal ranges, and during in-store consultations with ECPs and the sales merchants, customers were struggling to understand the unique attributes of the innovative adaptive technology. So, the glasses just weren’t selling.”

The solution

tangerine generated an extensive customer experience map to identify where key interventions in the sales process could disrupt and increase sales of the glasses. The design team travelled to Los Angeles, USA, and set-up a prototype optician’s store to run user trials of the sales process with ECP’s, sales staff and customers to gain feedback and inform the development of the service design.

Throughout the extensive research process, tangerine created a service design map of the current sales process and identified key areas of disruption that could introduce a clearer benefit-driven proposition for the consumer.
Prototype optician’s store in Los Angeles to run user trials of the sales process with ECP’s, sales staff and customers.

tangerine created the Allfield brand, together with a service design ‘kit of parts’ to help potential customers to understand the unique benefits of Adlens’s breakthrough technology. These are now introduced to the customer in the waiting room of the opticians.




tangerine transformed the dispensing and sales strategy for Adlens by disrupting the sales process to introduce the benefits of the adjustable lens system to customers at different points and by curating the existing product range to provide a clearer brand proposition to the customer.





With a new brand proposition, targeted marketing and sales training, customers and opticians alike can now better understand the key benefits of being able to manually adjust the lens of their Allfield glasses to see clearly at all distances.

tangerine created a design for a new Allfield website to support the orientation and education process of prospective customers looking for a suitable eyewear solution when varifocals do not work well for them.

Get in touch with tangerine

We'll explain clearly how we can help you to grow market share, drive new business and maximise your return on investment through innovative strategic design.

Contact us

You may also be interested in...