Synergos Technologies, Inc. - National Vision

National Vision

PopStats Locates Population Sweet Spot for National Vision

John Fox, Real Estate Manager for National Vision, learned about STI: PopStats even before it was a product on the market in 2001, thanks to a chance encounter with the dataset’s creator. He has since used the data at three different companies over 17 years — including his current employer. “It’s been an important resource for me throughout my career.”

“At the time PopStats broke onto the research scene it was a revolutionary data product. It was a game changer because unlike any other data provider, it used U.S. postal data to calculate population counts and projections and provide quarterly updates,” he explained.

“Those of us in trade area research at the time had only a few demographic data choices to choose from— and they were all from the old school data providers, who were not interested in innovation,” added John. While their data held up for a few years from the decennial Census, it started breaking down after that, at which point researchers lost confidence in it.

“What’s more, they didn’t offer data access to small geographic areas. So, it was harder for companies to drill down and analyze small areas. PopStats gave us, for the first time, more accurate and up-to-date demographic insight for the whole 10 years, and at smaller geographic levels. The innovative data really filled a huge need in the field of market research.”

Putting PopStats to the Test

John didn’t merely rest on his belief that PopStats was a superior data product, he put the product to the test to check its accuracy while working for a retail real estate company. The company was exploring market potential for new shopping centers in markets across the U.S. that had developing residential subdivisions.

The company had access to third-party surveys of rapidly growing subdivisions that included where they were being built and how many units were planned. It compared PopStats data population estimates and projections to the surveys in several markets in North Caroline, Texas, and Florida.

“We were able to check PopStats data’s accuracy against accurate third-party subdivision and housing growth statistics. The results were almost identical for population counts and growth projections,” says John. “This gave our company a great deal of confidence in PopStats — and the confidence to invest in new markets.

“This was critical because for shopping centers, we’re talking about $50 million or more deals. We couldn’t finance projects until we had a large percentage of commitments from key tenants, and they wouldn’t commit if the population was not there. So, we needed to know where the people were before we could even get the projects off the ground — so we did not make multimillion-dollar mistakes.

“And it’s not just our company,” added John. “I’ve heard similar results from other market researchers over the years. In fact, I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem with the data’s accuracy. When companies put it through tests, it comes out with flying colors. In my nearly two decades of using PopStats, I’ve never lost confidence.”

How National Vision Uses PopStats Data

As the current Real Estate Manager at National Vision, John has employed PopStats for the past three years to help find new locations and monitor the company’s existing 600-plus stores under three brand names — include America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Eyeglass World, Vision Centers inside retailers and the military. The retailer has built a niche in the low-priced eyeglass and contact lens market.

The retailer relies on two main research projects, sales forecasting models and trade area analysis, to select new locations and monitor existing stores:

  • Sales Forecasting Models - “PopStats is integrated into our sales forecast models. When we’re researching markets, we’ll conduct store projections for all intersections in that market. Knowing how many people live in those areas and the growth potential is absolutely fundamental to our site selection process,” explains John. “Because our confidence in the data is so high thanks to its track record, we don’t have to fact check the results. We trust what PopStats tells us and make decisions based on those results. This has helped make our market research operations a well-oiled machine.”
  • Trade Area ANalysis - “We’ll analyze the trade areas of our existing stores routinely for a variety of reasons,” notes John. “For example, we want to know about any new stores encroaching into our territories. We also want to know if the demographics are changing, in particular, the income and ethnicities of the neighborhoods surrounding our stores.

For example, “Our America’s Best brand is very income sensitive. We have a sweet spot between $35K and $100K. If incomes fall below or above that range, our ability to attract customers drops to zero. We just don’t attract those pockets of consumers. As a result, we use income data as a checks-and-balance when we’re looking for new opportunities for new stores. It’s key in our decision-making process.”

John also uses the STI: LandScape variables from PopStats to hone in on data points. “It’s nice to have the neighborhood segmentation data down to the block level. After applying this data for the past few years, we’ve found that there are 10 LandScape categories that work the best for our stores. In fact, they generate 70 percent of our sales. This data provides another valuable layer to help us better understand our customers — and better identify where our ideal customers live.”

John projects continued growth for National Vision’s brands in new markets across the country in the coming years — as the company continues to pinpoint ideal locations where it can bring its high-quality, low-cost eyeglass services to new populations of consumers.


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