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Oct, 08 2013

AN EYE FOR PROFITS

An Assocham report estimates the Indian eyewear market to touch Rs 43,000 crore by 2015. With increasing number of Indians in need of eyesight correction, the market offers a lot of opportunity to its players. Let's tell you how you can be a part of this

 

The Indian eyewear market has been growing rapidly since the past few years and increasing its share in the global eyewear industry. It has witnessed a steep incline in recent years on account of higher sales of eyewear across an array of segments.

 

Comprising optical products such as contact lens, intraocular lens, lasik, lens cleaning solutions, spectacle lenses, frames and sunglasses; the size of the Indian eyewear market was estimated to be around Rs 21,000 crore in 2012. It is set to more than double by 2015, says the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).

 

With the market wide open and a huge gap between demand and supply, both national and international brands are fighting for the top spot. Talking about the national players; after establishing their name in the metros, they are now expanding their base in smaller cities (Tier II and III) and concentrating on the rising population there. Leading brands generally follow a different pricing strategy and different product ranges for Tier I, II and III cities.

As the Assocham study (in 2012) suggests, the eyewear industry is dominated by the unorganised sector. The organised segment accounts for only about 25 % of the market with a share of Rs 5,200 crore but organised players like Titan Eye+ still have an added advantage over the small players.

 

As the trend is emerging, big brands are seen getting into tie-ups with local ophthalmologists to sell their eyewear products across the country.  What's more, retailers even provide loyalty customer cards for regular buyers and a special discount for introducing the new customers.

 

With competition heating up and the industry in a state of flux, more and more international brands are also stepping in to woo Indian customers. Luxottica, Essilor, Carl Zeiss, Bausch & Lomb, Johnson & Johnson, to name a few. In designer eyewear, the options are not limited to just Ray-Ban, Gucci and Ralph Lauren; Indian eyewear universe also includes brands like BVLGARI, Versace, Prada, TAG Heuer etc. You name it, you'll get it!

 

Franchise opportunities

With all the signs indicative of eyewear industry burgeoning in the near future, many options are available for an investor to enter the market.

 

With 13 outlets in Chennai and plans to expand into Tier II cities, Specsmakers is looking for suitable partners. The brand started out in 2007 and is in the process of finalising its franchise model. Specsmakers takes pride in manufacturing trendy, designer and high quality frames, at par with international brands and at affordable prices. Providing complete eyewear solution, it promises in-house training for sales professionals and optometrists.

 

Another opportunity in this sector is being provided by Value Vision. Incepted in 2011, the brand took the franchising route in April this year. With around 100 outlets in Hyderabad and Bangalore, Value Vision wants to scale up its business further and looks for suitable franchisees for doing so.

 

“We give all support for establishing the outlet. We provide software, staff training and business development systems along with accounts and systems management”, says Dharmendra, Operations Head, Value Vision.

 

Optique, another well-known brand, specialising in prescribing spectacles, sunglasses, contact lenses and hearing aids is also providing franchise opportunity. Promising training of staff optometrist and audiologist, Optique wants to associate with passionate individuals, with avid interest in this line of business.

 

Growth drivers

The rapid and robust growth of the eyewear industry can be attributed to the changing demographics, fashion culture and level of awareness in the country.There is a growing demand for eyewear from both groups- the fashion conscious customers and those with vision impairments.Eyewear, these days, has become more of a fashion accessory and a lifestyle product than a necessity for vision correction.

Also, rising disposable incomes, changes in lifestyle (giving rise to a population of people with more vision impairments) and increasing awareness of the usage of eyewear products in youth and middle-aged people also play a role in the overall rise of the industry.A higher per capita income in the metros is also resulting in the rise of preventive healthcare.

 

Trends in trade

 

Rise of EBOs

Leading industry players are increasing their number of exclusive brand outlets (EBOs) rapidly in major cities, as EBOs help manufacturers and retailers gain more market share in terms of value and volume.

 

Titan Eye+, for example, is on an expansion spree. The brand that currently has over 236 stores in 82 cities, is eyeing all the four regions, namely North, East, South, West for further growth.

 

Companies are also opening up their stores in smaller cities to gain competitive advantage for more product visibility and reach to rural India.

 

Emergence of online retailers

One of the most emphatic trends has been the introduction of online channel for the sale of eyewear products. Several e-retailers (like Lenskart, Lenstrade, Yebhi etc) have surfaced in the past couple of years, thanks to the penetration of broadband over the past several years that has made eyewear products available to a broader customer base.

 

Changing perception

The industry is also witnessing a change in the consumer mindset regarding spectacles. What was earlier considered to be an ailment is now being viewed as a fashion trend. “Spectacles have now become a fashion accessory and everybody seems to be embracing them”, says Pratik Shah, Managing Director, Specsmakers. Ajeet Bhardwaj, Managing Director, Optique, agrees saying, “There has been no change in the preference for contact lenses. However, many customers now tend to rotate between contact lenses and frames.”

 

The Franchising World's research also yields the same result. Frames and lenses rule the roost, forming a major chunk of retailers' sales. Sunglasses sales come second, pipping contact lenses which take the third spot.

 

Affordability is the main concern

According to Value Vision and Specsmakers, affordability is the main concern for the customer walking in, closely followed by comfort. However, Optique says criteria differs with different locations and in metros, customers still give more importance to brand name than other aspects.

 

Challenges

For an industry which presents immense potential to its players, right pricing (keeping customer affordability in mind) and better distribution are areas that need attention.

 

Trends in trade

= National players venturing into tier II and III markets

= Leading players taking the EBO route

= Eyewear industry also growing virtually with competition increasing among online brands

 

Growth drivers

= Rise in the population of people with vision impairment

= Perception of eyewear as a fashion accessory

= Rising disposable incomes

= Changes in lifestyle

= Increasing awareness

= Phenomenon of preventive healthcare on a rise

 

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