Case Study of Vistakon and Disposable Contact Lenses

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Case Study of Vistakon and Disposable Contact Lenses

Vistakon is a well-established, overwhelming market leader in the disposable contact lens industry, based on strong brand equity and channels of distribution. Additionally, as a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson, Vistakon has considerable resources at its disposal. The launching of 1 Day Acuvue, with newly invested manufacturing technology in place, provides a great opportunity to preempt competition and thus enhance its positioning. However, 1 Day Acuvue potentially flourishes by cannibalizing the company's existing product lines such as Acuvue and Surevue. With a major portion of its sales ($250 million) coming from these products, Vistakon faces significant risk in launching 1 Day Acuvue.


Vistakon's major competitors within the disposable contact lens market are Bausch & Lomb ("B&L") and Ciba. With a 23% and 21% share respectively in 1994, they led the soft contact lens market. In addition, both B&L and Ciba offered high margin cleaning solutions products for conventional lens. These competitors, therefore, were seen as being reluctant to immediately launch their own equivalent product of 1-Day Acuvue, which will undermine their highly profitable solutions business.

In launching their new product, Vistakon needs to predict two scenarios: competitors' "defensive" and "offensive" actions against the launch of 1-Day Acuvue. The "defensive" scenario anticipates significant price reduction and/or launching of aggressive marketing campaigns by these competitors once 1-Day Acuvue proves successful enough to cannibalize their sales. The "offensive" scenario is where the competitors will launch a similar product to the 1-Day Acuvue. As stated above, based on the potential to undermine their solutions business we anticipate that the probability of an "offensive" response is low for the time being.


Based on the result from the Western regional launch, we project the potential market size for 1-Day Acuvue to be around 4.5 million (see Exhibit 1). Based on data that 75 million eye exams are given by Eye Care Professionals (ECP) nationwide on annual basis, each ECP on average conducts 160 eye exams per month, and discuss 1-Day Acuvue to 40 patients. By extrapolating the result in the Western region, we assume that 24% of patients will be eventually converted to "real customer" and thus obtain the total potential market size for 1-Day Acuvue as 4,492,800 customers.

While such a number demonstrates a huge market opportunity, we estimate Vistakon's ECP penetration rate by multiplying the potential ECP coverage by its current market share of 18.9%. This is based on the fact that the decision of what contact lens to purchase considerably relies upon the availability of products carried by ECPs. As a result, we estimate that 1-Day Acuvue will capture 849,139 customers in a year.

Characteristics of Potential Market

The Western regional launch data shows that the vast majority of customers use both eyeglasses and contact lenses, with the average use of contact lenses being 4.4 days a week. These customers were classified as "part time users". With respect to the vision correction they previously used, disposable lens users will be most likely to migrate to 1-Day Acuvue, with 6.28% migration rate as shown in Exhibit 2, while "never tried" or "dropouts" are less likely to opt for 1-Day Acuvue in spite of the huge potential.

Target segment

By promoting the three product lines of Surevue, Acuvue and 1-Day Acuvue, Vistakon is able to appeal to three different customer segments. Specifically for 1-Day Acuvue, we recommend Vistakon target the "part time users" noted above who have high income and are therefore relatively price insensitive, who have active lifestyles, and frequently travel on business. The company will be able to charge premium price and clearly target the customer segment that enjoys the benefits of 1-Day Acuvue vs....
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