In line with the general move towards design and branding in eyewear, the demand for sunglasses is increasingly being driven by aesthetics and status as well as functionality. Indeed, sunglasses are increasingly perceived as the new face jewellery.
The growing role of branding across eyewear and the particular importance of fashion in sunglasses is significantly bolstering the impact of marketing in the category. With millennials being the key target audience, marketing through social media is proving to be of particular significance.
Broader lifestyle trends are supporting the rise in demand for sunglasses in China. The burgeoning tourism industry, with growing numbers of Chinese travelling abroad for their holidays, is significantly boosting demand in the category.
The merger of Essilor, a French global player in ophthalmic optics, with Luxottica, a leading Italian manufacturer of spectacle frames, is set to have a particularly marked impact on the competitive landscape in sunglasses. Essilor owns a 50% stake in domestic company, Xiamen Yarui Optical, which overtook Luxottica to become the largest player in sunglasses in 2017 and extended its lead in 2018.
With millennials constituting the key target group for sunglasses manufacturers, fashion playing a growing role in demand and social media becoming an ever more effective marketing tool, celebrities and fashion bloggers are becoming increasingly prominent in the promotion of brands and products. As well as conventional celebrity endorsement, manufacturers employ Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) to post holiday photos of themselves wearing particular brands of sunglasses, which are viewed by large numbers of potential consumers.
Gucci was the fastest-growing sunglasses brand in China in 2018, as it benefited from Kering’s strategy of seeking full control of its eyewear value chain in order to maximise growth potential and achieve revenue and distribution synergies. This allowed Kering to be amongst the most successful of the luxury goods players to exploit the increasingly fashion- and status-orientated character of demand in sunglasses towards the end of the review period.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our sunglasses market research database.