We’re back at it again! This month we’ll be traveling to Lake Atitlan to learn more about consumer behavior preferences and potential business locations. We’re aiming to learn about what frame styles are popular in this region of rural Guatemala; after gaining this information we’ll be able to move forward in creating our supply chain. This trip, our goal is to learn more about what eye glasses styles people desire around Lake Atitlan, and how people perceive those who wear glasses. So many people in the US wear glasses, so we rarely hear of anyone being called “four eyes” anymore. But from what we’ve learned in rural Guatemala- in a school where not one child who needs glasses has had the money to obtain them- the way that glasses are perceived is something we need to take time to analyze!
If you wear glasses, what frame styles do you wear? How did you choose them? Does color matter? How important was the price of the frames (keep in mind that in Guatemala, few insurance companies cover eye care; and more importantly, few people have insurance)? Did you analyze your face shape when choosing frame styles? Was is important for your glasses to make a statement or did you prefer to fit in with the crowd?
Up until this point, our frame supply has come from donations from organizations. We haven’t had the opportunity to offer people a variety of styles to choose from, and we’ve learned that style is a hugely important factor, even for consumers with limited discretionary spending power. We’ve learned that most Guatemalans are very connected to global media sources, therefore they are influenced by what eye glasses styles they see on TV and in magazines- just like we are in the US!
As always, we’re trying to explore what form our business should take. Professor Eric Martin has challenged us to question the applicability of multiple business models in rural Guatemala. Would a pre-existing NGO have the connections to implement our simple technology and reach a wide range of people? Can the typical optometric shop with a store front in the middle of town provide glasses at reasonable prices? Should our business be highly distributed with a central manufacturing center? Though glasses are available in other stores around the lake, why do these business fail to serve most of the population? These are examples of the questions we’re going to be asking while we’re in sunny San Pedro this March.