The need for eyewear is growing rapidly as frames are coming into style. These three trends are helping shape the market.
Increasing commoditisation within spectacles
As seen already within apparel and fashion accessories, eyewear is becoming increasingly commoditised. This is especially the case within spectacles. Average unit prices are on the decline, with a growing number of consumers speeding up replacement cycles and opting for cheaper references in order to keep up with rapidly changing fashion trends. Retailers are boosting the trend with relentless “2-for-1”, or “second unit half price” deals on corrective spectacles. Sunglasses have always been seen by many as a fashion accessory rather than an eye care protective device. The increasing appeal for fashion brands and fashion related channels clearly indicates that aesthetics take precedence over functionality or UV specifications. The rapid expansion of fast fashion players offering affordable design-led sunglasses is another driver behind this. Commoditisation is also evident in terms of distribution. Over 2012-2017 optical shops lost four percentage points to non-specialist channels, mostly e-commerce, with consumers placing more importance on convenience and price than on know-how from eye care professionals.
Cashing in on prevention and vision enhancement
Increasingly, consumers across the globe are choosing to take greater ownership of their self and are conceptualising their health in a longer-term, preventive sense, as opposed to treatment for certain conditions. This proactive approach means greater opportunities for eyewear manufacturers and retailers as the consumer base expands as a result of further diagnostics on one hand, while opening extra revenue streams for noncorrective/preventive references on the other. From Essilor’s Crizal Prevencia launch in 2013, which was one of the first preventive lenses offering protection against blue light and UV rays, many players have moved into preventive territory. Zeiss quickly followed with Zeiss digital lenses, and recently, the company launched Zeiss Energizeme. Energizeme helps to refresh a patient’s eyes after removal of contact lenses through the prevention of digital eye strain using DuraVision BlueProtect technology. Moving one step ahead of prevention (into enhanced territory), Hoya recently launched EnRoute, a lens designed for drivers that reduces glare and reflections, while enhancing contrast and brightness by absorbing blue light, significantly reducing light scatter when driving.
Global ageing (and rapidly growing) population
Ageing is one of the most significant global demographic factors impacting eyewear. In 2017 29% of the world’s population is aged 45+ (average onset age of presbyopia). This proportion is set to rise to over 33% by 2030, when over 2.6 billion consumers will be in need of some sort of presbyopia-related eye care solution. This increase represents a market opportunity of nearly 500 million new consumers globally. However, ageing also posts certain challenges, especially when it comes to product development. Senior consumers (65+) tend to suffer from dry eye syndrome, hence the fitting of contact lenses among these consumers requires extra care. Industry players agree that low usage among the elderly is due to lack of consumer awareness regarding the benefits, and low professional encouragement for elderly consumers to experiment with these. Further material innovation is expected to help overcome this perception among both senior consumers and opticians alike.
Premiumisation is the most important path to top-line growth across many references, and eyewear is no exception. Premium products and services allow brands to own the consumer relationship, amid competition from ecommerce, social media, and others. Consumers will give maximum loyalty and money to companies, which can serve as partners, tying products and benefits to long-term services. The health and wellness trend gripping consumers has infiltrated almost all industries, and eyewear is no exception. As health becomes a status symbol, consumers are increasingly shifting towards a proactive approach. Preventive eye care is gaining ground, as much as the concept of enhanced vision among consumers with healthy vision.