As one of the most accessible categories within luxury, luxury eyewear has a broader socioeconomic spectrum among purchasers than many prestige items. For this reason, the category had already been suffering the impact of the recent economic crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, luxury eyewear sales saw a record decrease, especially sunglasses, since consumers had fewer opportunities to enjoy outdoor experiences during the quarantine periods. Many optical stores closed operations, and the largest retail chains paused their schedule of purchases from manufacturers because their inventories lasted for much longer as a consequence of the weak demand.
Besides super-premium fragrances, luxury eyewear is the only luxury category with many points of sales spread nationwide, rather than being restricted to the context of luxury brands’ own stores and high-end department stores. However, while luxury eyewear carries the names of the most prestigious luxury brands, it is not necessarily perceived as having the same appeal as other luxury categories.
The weakening of the Brazilian economy tends to cause social problems that frequently lead to significant increases in the volume of illicit trade and counterfeit products, as well as more stolen items being sold. These illegal products can absorb a substantial share of the market.
Eyewear manufacturers and the Associação Brasileira da Indústria Óptica (Abióptica) – the national association of the optical industry – have run campaigns and training sessions with sales teams to spread awareness among the population of the importance of eye care during the quarantine, and the urgency of being updated with the correct product for their specific ocular conditions. Retailers are being supported with instructions and suggestions regarding better strategies for social media management.
The unpredictable nature of the pandemic and the prolonged periods of quarantine will determine the development of the luxury eyewear category in the mid-to-long term. In this context, consumption habits among wealthier consumers are predicted to change.
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This report originates from Passport, our Luxury Eyewear research and analysis database.
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