Leadership Strategy Video Series

An Interview with Aldo Zucaro of CooperVision
Interviewed by Clay Dethloff, Decision Analyst

Decision Analyst interviews Aldo Zucaro, Senior Director of Commercial Strategy at CooperVision on how his company is navigating the COVID-19 crisis and how they are planning for the future.


Clay: Hi and welcome to our Leadership Strategy session. My name is Clay Dethloff, I’m Senior Vice President of Qualitative Research at Decision Analyst, a marketing research company based in Arlington, Texas. Today I’m privileged to have Aldo Zucaro with me, who is the Senior Director of Commercial Strategy at CooperVision, which is a global contact-lens manufacturer. Aldo, good to have you, and nice to talk with you again.

Aldo: Nice to talk to you.

Clay:Good, well, Aldo, to begin with, can you tell me a little bit about yourself, please sir?

Aldo: So, I’ve been with CooperVision for about seven years, and in the industry, in contact lenses now, wow, man I’m gonna age myself, but someplace around 20 years, maybe a little bit more.

Clay: And kind of before we start talking a little bit about your business, just how are you and your family doing personally during this pandemic?

Aldo: Yeah, you know, thanks for asking. It’s a good question. We’re getting used to it, let’s say we’re getting used to it.

Clay: We may have this all figured out about the time we can go back.

Aldo: I know, I know, that’s good.

Clay: Alright, well, some of the changes, when were are talking about business, businesses have to make changes to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are gonna be permanent, some, you know, may just be kind of part-time or temporary, but we’d like to know how you feel your industry, an organization, has adopted or is adopting to these changes?

Aldo: Yeah, you know, it’s a great question, and it’s a great question for a couple of reasons. In the past, we actually haven’t had to make a lot of changes. Contact lenses have been fairly recession-proof. So, from an economic downturn that we’ve seen in other points in history, 2008 is a good example, of sort of a fairly large economic downturn, contact lenses have been insulated.

However, this time it’s a health concern, and it’s a concern where people [are] in close interaction with their doctors (and contact lenses can’t get any closer). I mean, the doctor has to see the inside of your eye and they’re going to be, you know, pretty much on you. It’s affected us, it’s been very different, because we are an industry that survives on the interactions that doctors have with their patients, and we are a supporter in those interactions. And so, we’re seeing things like telemedicine, which is great. I think telemedicine is a great way to lower the cost of service, but it doesn’t replace the doctor in [all] situations. I mean, at the end of the day a professional has to look into the back your eye and the technologies that we have today just aren’t that great for it, or helping someone fit a contact lens. So, we’re getting used to something that we haven’t had to get used to in the past, which is; “How do we conduct interactions with people, when having close proximity is problematic?”

Clay: Some aspects of new product development are gonna be invigorated by the changes, I mean, people are going to be actively looking for new product development and ideas, and there may be changes in consumer perceptions. What are your thoughts about how this pandemic, if you will, might impact your industry or organization as far as new product development goes?

Aldo: We talked about that. I actually spend a lot of time talking about that. One of the things that I talk about is, there are need states that consumers have; those need states don’t change. How we fulfill those need states, those are gonna evolve a little bit. So, the areas of need states that we’ve been looking closely into, there are no plans to diverge into some other need state, into some other area.

The only thing that this has brought up is, it brought up this notion of being cognizant of the interaction. I mean, you know, it’s not the contact lenses [that’s] the problem, the contact lens isn’t the problem, the doctor’s not the problem, the problem is that occasion there might be an instance where somebody says, “I don’t feel safe.” And what we have to work on is not on the items that make our contact lenses great. We’re going to continue to do that and there’s a slew of innovation that we continue to think of that do those things, and continue to make our contact lenses do things that people need and want. I think the thing that we’re also looking at is the experience that somebody has when they’re interacting with their practitioner.

And so when you’re interacting with your practitioner, the one thing that I don’t want anybody to feel is unsafe, nor do I want somebody to say, “I feel like I’m taking a risk when I’m going and doing something that includes our contact lenses.” That’s not a good thing, that’s not a good place for anyone to be [in], in any industry, and so that’s what we’re working against.

Now there are things that we’re looking at that are interesting for our industry, single-use, so our single-use contact lenses are definitely something that we continue to think a lot about, because it’s a brand new contact lens every time, we can guarantee the safety in that product. So that’s one of the things that we’re looking at. And one of the things that we’re working along that same pathway, is this sort of a notion of future-proofing with our doctor partners. So, let me take a minute to sort of take you through our thinking on this.

Clay: Yeah, that would be great. Thank you.

Aldo: So, we know that one of Cooper[Vision]’s absolute strengths is our relationship with eye care professionals, and we know that patients are best served when they can talk to their eye doctor, when their eye doctor can see what’s going on, when their eye doctor can recommend the thing that they need. We also this environment has brought in this question of safety, is my doctor safe, is it a safe place to go? So, we got to work through that. But as we work through that and we get to, you know, you mentioned it earlier sort of our “new normal,” we want to take one step beyond that, and sort of say, “How do we future-proof?” “How do we create a scenario or situations or tools?” or “How do we enable each other?” such that it happens to be corona[virus] this time, but I don’t know what the next one might be, but if history teaches us anything, it’s going to teach us that there will be a next one. The best that we can do is be prepared for that in some way, so that when the next one comes, we don’t all have to say, you know, “good news we’re all working from home again.”

Clay: I love that idea of future-proofing. I think that’s a fantastic way to think about it and look forward in the future too.

Aldo: Yeah I think it is probably the single biggest inspiration point for innovation for us. We’re not gonna be off of what we’ve done in the past, or what we’re thinking about. We know those are the right pathways for us, and we’re gonna go chase those pathways with everything we have. The thing that’s new in this equation is the notion of “What are the things that we can do to future-proof ourselves?” “The patients our doctor serves?” “And our customers, the retailers that depend on us?” What do we need to do in that arena to make it better? And you, you asked me a question about innovation earlier, if there is an aspect of innovation that we’re gonna look a lot deeper into, it’s that future-proofing piece. That’s what we’re not prepared for yet.

Clay: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about your industry, your organization, or just anything that you kind of anticipate happening in this post-COVID-19 world? Just top-of-mind thoughts from your end.

Aldo: Yeah, you know, I can just tell you from my own personal experience, when we were told we had to stay home, anxiety was quite high. Now we’re seven-plus weeks into it, my anxiety about being home, about work function, has gone down quite a bit. And so maybe, maybe, I don’t know if I’m a good indication or not for the people around me, but I’m hoping that as people feel more comfortable, we take this challenge on, and we climb this mountain, and get over this mountain. I just, I’m looking forward to the day where I’m not actually thinking at all about the coronavirus, COVID-19 or any of those things.

Clay: Aldo, it’s been a pleasure to have you and to talk with you and appreciate your insights and your thoughts. It was very valuable and very insightful, so thank you very much.

Aldo: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Contact Decision Analyst

If you have a question please contact Clay Dethloff, Senior Vice President of Qualitative Research, he can be emailed at cdethlo@decisionanalyst.com. He may also be reached at 1-800-262-5974 or 1-817-640-6166.

We are providing the Covid-19 Consumer Reactions Report here. Topics included in this report are:

  • Concerns about Covid-19
  • Emotions consumers are experiencing
  • Methods of dealing with stress
  • Disruptions to normal routine
  • Existence of supplemental income
  • Under shelter in place orders
  • Food consumption changes
  • Product usage changes
  • Brand substitution
  • Beverage consumption changes
  • Dining habits
  • Home improvement activities
  • Medical disruptions