The Revolution Continues: A Big Show in the US

The VMD launch was a wonderful opportunity to learn the marketing tools in real life, how to specify, position, promote and launch a new product. I had already participated in the progressive lens project at Rodenstock developing and launching the Progressif R and had written the technical Marketing brochures . But now I was not only responsible for the total Marketing environment of Varilux Multi Design, but more generally  the responsible product manager in the launch preparation meetings with R&D, Logistics and the sales departments for France and the subsidiaries. And the best way to learn is practical experience. Later when we built a well structured Marketing department, we hired a number of young Marketing specialists coming directly from the University or as frequently in France from the Grandes Ecoles. I remember  young people with excellent  marketing knowledge, but taking decisions which were detrimental to the product because they did not know the product well enough and they did not know this particular market.  

We launched the VMD in 1988 and I particularly remember the introduction in the USA, where the VMD was called Varilux Infinity. We had two big meetings with our lab customers at San Francisco and San Antonio. Looking back I have the feeling these were some of my most successful product presentations I ever did. Convinced of the new innovative idea of the Multi Design concept, inspired by my new role with Essilor head office and together with the US typical, professional organization and presentation of the meetings as well as the enthusiastic US business people in the auditorium, I was at the same time under tension and relaxed as rarely before and afterwards. The theme of the event was “The revolution continues” and at the end of the meeting the Multi Design message had convinced both the lab managers as well as our US sales force.

 I was already familiar with the beautiful place of San Francisco as it was the location of the US Varilux subsidary but this trip made me discover the fascinating city of San Antonio, the oldest city in Texas, founded by Francisan monks from Spain. The San Antonio river meanders through the city and the Essilor team celebrated the successful product introduction in one of the numerous restaurants of the picturesque River Walk after the event. I was very impressed as an old western fan, when I visited the old  mission of The Alamo where in 1836 about 200 Texans under the command of William Barrett Travis and James Bowie lost their lives in the battle of independence  of Texas from Mexico.