Technology and innovation driving category growth
In addition to long-term demographic and structural market changes, the global eyewear market is experiencing a number of product-driven trends. These include:
Shift to higher value eyewear products
Increasing consumer awareness, ageing population and penetration of technical innovations in the eyewear market are strengthening demand for higher value eyewear products. These innovations relate to both the quality of lens material and to functionality and design features (e.g. progressive, light, thin, antireflective, shockproof, photochromic, scratch resistant, anti-dirt, anti-fog, polarized and ultraviolet protective lenses). Higher value products generally command higher retail prices and wider profit margins, but they also require increased service levels. To read more about product innovations by GrandVision, please see the ‘Mask it up!’ case study.
Increased convenience driving contact lens category growth
The global market for contact lenses, particularly daily disposable ones, is expanding rapidly and creating shorter repurchase cycles that are shifting to daily or monthly disposable versions. The average annual spend for contact lenses is higher per customer than it is for prescription glasses. In addition, contact lens wearers also tend to purchase prescription glasses and sunglasses, and demonstrate higher levels of customer engagement. While the share of contact lenses as a proportion of total eyewear sales still varies across different markets, the combination of convenience and affordability is encouraging more consumers to make the switch and combine their usage with glasses.
We address this trend with our leading range of exclusive contact lens brands, eyexpert and iWear, which combine high-quality and comfort for a comparatively lower price. In 2017, we developed a new customer-oriented training program for in-store employees to ensure accurate guidance and practical advice while picking the right product for our customers. This program also teaches employees and customers how to best apply and remove contact lenses.
High quality sunglasses
While 60% of the world population is in need of vision correction, 100% needs to protect their eyes from the sun. Therefore, the growth of the sunglass market is driven by a growing awareness of the potential harm caused by ultraviolet radiation, the popularity of sunglasses as a fashion item and greater demand for prescription sunglasses. Even so, the penetration of eyesight protection from ultraviolet radiation remains relatively low in mature and emerging markets. Only approximately 19% of sunglasses sold in Europe today have prescription lenses.
Our expectation is that, as health awareness increases, the demand for high-quality sunglasses, such as the ultraviolet protective prescription sunglasses, will also grow. To this end, our Solaris store-in-store concept offers an attractive assortment of functional and fashionable sunglasses, of which 70% can be fitted with prescription lenses. At the same time, innovations in design and lens technology, including light weight, polarized and flash lenses are also contributing to shorter average repurchase cycles.