Competitor Strategies in Eyewear

January 2022

After steep decline in 2020 due to the pandemic, 2021 was a year of transformations for global eyewear players. In the post-COVID-19 era, embracing digitalisation is crucial for all categories. Companies that stand out with strongly positioned brands and a digital strategy, eg EssilorLuxottica, prove resilient. With eyewear still reliant on store-based channels for their in-store expert service, players will increasingly invest in omnichannel strategies to future-proof their revenue streams.

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Key Findings

Optical players moving out of survival mode

The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges and uncertainties for the eyewear industry after a severe decline in 2020 due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, the industry is on the road to recovery, with expectations of reaching pre-COVID-19 sales levels by the end of 2024, as demand for essential corrective products remains strong. Optical players are moving out of survival mode, as they embrace new trends, such as digitalisation.

E-commerce is a must for eyewear businesses

Already in motion, e-commerce skyrocketed during the 2020 crisis as consumers began shopping more online than ever before. Forced closures and social distancing measures have changed shopping habits worldwide, which means that an e-commerce presence is a must for optical businesses to compete in an increasingly busy marketplace. Increasingly, eyewear players will be expected to deploy digital services technology to replicate their in-store offer virtually.

The future is hybrid

Despite these e-commerce investments, store-based retailing remained the leading sales channel for eyewear in 2021, representing 87% of total sales globally. Practices are now looking towards an omnichannel future as the best way to address these changing consumer habits to assist the patient at all touchpoints, ensuring that the online and in-store experiences complement each other to deliver a more engaging and interactive customer service.

From sustainability to purpose

COVID-19 was a wake-up call about inequality and inclusion issues across the globe. Consumers will seek out brands that align with their ethics. In that context, eyewear players will be expected to increasingly support social initiatives and local communities, as well as increase their commitments to combat climate change, in order to gain consumers’ favour.

Smart glasses coming your way

Consumers are now driving the Metaverse Movement: the burgeoning development of a future rendition of the internet, bringing together virtual reality headsets and other social platforms. Smart glasses will no doubt play into this movement in the long term. Nevertheless, the widespread adoption of smart glasses is still 5-10 years away.



Key findings

Competitive Environment Overview

Companies at a glance
Brighter outlook for companies relying on luxury
EssilorLuxottica leads global eyewear
Developed markets offer significant opportunities for growth in eyewear
Contact lenses and spectacle lenses are recession-resistant
EssilorLuxottica and VSP develop widest array of brands

Key Themes and Opportunities: Channel Shifts

Establishing an e-commerce offer: a matter of survival for optical players
UK optical retailer Specsavers expands online offering to include spectacles
US Zenni harnesses PR engagement through influencer marketing
Despite shift to e-commerce, optical stores benefit from consumers’ trust
The future of optical will be hybrid for optical players
Polette: a glimpse of the forthcoming p hygital reality in eyewear
Eyewear meets augmented reality
Michael Kors integrates virtual try-ons with social media platforms
Remote consultations become more prominent

Key Themes and Opportunities: Enhancing Logistics and Supply Chain

Additive manufacturing playing an increasingly important role in eyewear

Key Themes and Opportunities: enhancing logistics and supply chain

Hoya's 3D printing system Yuniki tailors around facial features in Japan
Luxury players LVHM and Kering tighten grip on production
Managing manufacturing virtually through a crisis

Key Themes and Opportunities: Sustainability and Ethical

Action on ethics and sustainability developing in eyewear post-COVID-19
Spanish-based green optical player Sea2See turns plastic fishnets into eyewear
Warby Parker’s “buy one, give one” model creates lasting opportunities for the e-tailer

Key Themes and Opportunities: Smart Eyewear

Big tech firms jump on the smart glasses bandwagon
South Korea's Samsung patents smart AR contact lenses with built-in camera


Conclusion: placing digitalisation at the centre of recovery


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