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Sep, 13 2016

An Eye for Profit

The trend of eyewear is growing from a necessity to a fashion and style accessory, Let’s see how innovations like home check-ups and trials have helped start-ups disturb the eyewear business and what’s in future store.

With the trend of eyewear growing from a necessity to a fashion and style accessory, players in the segment are tapping e-commerce to people this growth. Let’s see how innovations like home check-ups and trials have helped start-ups disturb the eyewear business and what’s in future store.

The size of the Indian eyewear market is about Rs 43,000 crore, of which organised segment accounts for only 25-30 per cent of the market share. However, the industry is witnessing a significant shift in the adoption trend of eyewear products, as the consumers have transitioned from being health conscious towards being more fashion conscious. Besides, with the advent of online players, ordering of products as spectacles, sunglasses, frames and lenses has been gaining massive traction.
The changing times have proved that there is space for evolution in the eyewear segment and a robust approach is what needed to cater to this segment. Undoubtedly, the eyewear industry has seen a paradigm shift with the changing trends and is throwing an opportunity for brands to innovate and invest in the crystal clear opportunity.
Robust Opportunity

According to a latest report by Euromonitor International, India is touted to be the leader in top-ten fastest growing eyewear market during 2016 to 2021 fiscal followed by UAE, Thailand, Malaysia, China and others. And the reason the segment is growing at such a high pace varies from the changing consumer behaviour, increasing urbanisation, increasing use of smartphones in younger generation, acceptance of omni-channel and a transformation happening towards organising the unorganised distribution network. Peyush Bansal, Founder and CEO, Lenskart, says, “Around half a billion people in India need spectacles which is about 40 per cent of India’s population, and the number is expected grow to about 60 per cent witnessing the increased use of smartphones and other eye stressing devices in the younger generation.”

The industry has surely proven a breakthrough for solo players like Rayban, Lenskart, Titan Eyeplus, GKB Opticals and Himalaya Opticals to adapt the changing consumer trends and enjoy the bliss of the hour.

What Consumer Wants

Consumers today are abreast with the latest in fashion and trends but as far as eyewear is concerned, women don’t really want to be seen in eyewear during special occasions like parties or marriage functions, etc., as they tend to feel that eyewear takes away the look from their appearance at social dos. So, according to Vandana Bhalla, Head – Marketing, Eyewear Division, Titan Company, the biggest concern is that women feel that they do not look good in eyewear.

“We would like to change this attitude towards eyewear and celebrate spectacles as a fashion accessory that enhances one’s overall style statement. Also, we want to break the stereotypes and encourage women to wear glasses, with any outfit and at any occasion,” she adds.

However, the changing time is now observing the new ways to reach the consumer with an ease of accessibility, affordability and a promise of providing a trustworthy qualitative product.

Devansh Binani, Director, Himalaya Optical, shares, “We have introduced several informative applications at the consumer interaction level to make them understand the advanced elements of ophthalmic lenses and their benefits.”

Omni-Channel Approach

There exists players like Lenskart which made its entry as an e-retailer providing eyewear solutions for the Indian consumer and is currently holds a large number of offline stores around the country, whereas, Himalaya Optical entered the business close to 80 years ago and has now also started to sell its products through various online portals hence proving that the brands want to reach the end consumer through any way possible.

Bansal adds, “I think the industry is definitely moving towards hybrid models, it means that online companies are going offline and offline companies are going online. It is more to do through making the same product available and touching consumers at various touch points, while they are home or while they are shopping in the mall.”

Franchise route

Various players in the industry are providing franchising opportunities to the people who want to enter the industry. Lenskart's unique franchisee model for stores has helped it scale up fast. The franchisee carries a limited stock for display. The order is placed online and serviced by the company. A franchisee invests Rs 25 lakh to do up the store, in eye-testing equipment and people, earns 30 per cent on an order, and breaks even in a couple of years, says Bansal.

“We have dedicated teams to consistently support our franchisee catering from setting up the store till the start of the operations. The guidance includes training programs, inventory management, advertising and other vital aspects,” says Binani.

Bright Future

As per the industry veterans, the eyewear industry will continue to grow as the number of people using smartphones is also increasing and the introduction of technology such as virtual reality will also create a lot of opportunity for the new age retailers.   

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