Contact lenses are growing faster than spectacles in Singapore as consumers view contacts as more stylish and convenient than spectacles. Consumers in Singapore are fashion conscious, and manufacturers can regain sales by marketing spectacles as a fashion accessory. The company Owndays has already started catering to this trend using a ‘fast-processing’ method allowing consumers to walk out the door with stylish frames and prescription-based lenses in hand. Euromonitor expects the fast-processing trend to expand to other countries in the Asia-Pacific region as consumers search for convenient, fashion-sensible spectacles.
At the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia, there were an abundance of sponsorships seen on event telecasts and across Olympic venues, as well as adorning athletes. Euromonitor International takes a look at the eyewear and jewellery brands which have sponsored the event.
2014 Winter Olympics Logo / Photo credit: www.sochi.ru
Analyst Insight by Sulabh Madhwal - Personal Accessories and Eyewear Analyst
The last revolutionary advances in contact lenses were the use of silicone hydrogels for manufacturing in 1999 and the launch of the first progressive daily disposable lens in 2000. However, the increased willingness of external electronics and technology players to enter eyewear poses a threat which could accelerate product innovation. Here, we discuss the current state of new product development in contact lenses, which is dependent on cosmetics and technology.
Cosmetic Lenses Assuming Greater Emphasis
As discussed in the podcast ‘Circle Lenses Drive Demand for Contacts in Asia’, circle and coloured lenses are among the primary drivers of contact lens sales in Asia Pacific. New patterns, colours and collections have been making inroads in the portfolios of most global brands. In 2013, Bausch & Lomb added a new cosmetic lens collection, Naturelle, in order to compete with CIBA Vision Freshlook and Acuvue Define. In addition, consistent growth in the region has invited local manufacturers to position products which are cheaper than those offered by global leaders such as Acuvue and CIBA Vision.
However, associated concerns about consumer safety and counterfeit products are likely to pose a threat to the rise of cosmetic lenses. A case in point is South Korea’s ban on the internet retailing of contact lenses in 2012. Although the increasing involvement of national health authorities is expected to slow the ascent of local cosmetic lens brands, it presents global brands with a new growth opportunity in Asia. In addition to South Korea, other substantial Asia Pacific markets such as Japan, China and Taiwan will help shape the global competitive landscape for contact lenses over 2014-2018.
Limited Role of Technology
There are two distinct technological innovations which could have a long-term impact on contact lenses. In July 2013, researchers at the University of California, San Diego and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) unveiled the development of contact lenses which allow vision to be magnified by nearly three times. In order to achieve the magnification, the contact lenses have to be paired with a pair of specialised spectacles. Apart from military applications, the product could prove invaluable to middle-aged and elderly consumers who face age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although the prototype is complete, additional research is required to improve the lenses’ gas permeability and make them suitable for everyday wear.
Source: Google official blog
In addition, Google announced its first version of ‘smart’ contact lenses on 16 January 2014. The prototype is designed exclusively for diabetes patients, and automatically takes glucose level readings once every second. This provides a quick and painless alternative to the current method of testing through blood drops. Although there are talks of Google integrating some of its Google Glass functions into the smart contact lens, this seems highly unlikely in the next few years due to the nascent stage of its contact lens development.
No Revolution Coming Just Yet
Most contact lens innovations seen in 2013 and 2014 are either riding on consumer preferences within existing categories (eg cosmetic lenses) or are a few years from being launched for retail sales (eg Google contact lenses). They are also based on providing options to specific consumers rather than disrupting the wider industry.
This trend is likely to continue over the 2014-2018 period, when soft lens materials will be the focus for manufacturers. As such, any major breakthrough which simplifies the contact lens wearing process or radically increases eye comfort will bring immediate returns for the manufacturer involved. With respect to revolutionary technologies, any new concept is expected to involve collaboration with one of the dominant players - Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Bausch & Lomb or The Cooper Cos - in order to utilise their medical expertise and reach the global consumer.
In 2013, three acquisitions in the eyewear industry shaped the market. First, Valeant Pharmaceuticals acquired Bausch and Lomb, the third largest global contact lens company. This led to a layoff of over 400 Bausch and Lomb employees. Second, Italian based Marcolin Eyewear acquired American rival Viva International, allowing for a brand portfolio featuring both high-end and accessible luxury brands. Finally, Essilor, the world’s largest corrective lens company, acquired FGX International and Costa Inc. in a bid to expand into spectacles.
Analyst Insight by May Ling Tham - Head of Personal Accessories and Eyewear
With technology being an integral part of consumers’ lifestyles, Euromonitor International takes a look at new product developments in bags and eyewear and how tech-savvy features incorporated into these accessories might be the future for the industry.
Smart Bags Charge Mobile Devices While On the Go
While the world obsesses over smart devices, demand for accessories is increasing. No longer are bags being designed with just compartments to slot in laptops and mobiles; they are now also incorporating charging devices to allow consumers to charge their electronics when on the go, while also remaining fashionable.
Top left to right: Hustle bag from Hustle Group, Mighty Purse from Handbag Butler
Bottom left to right: Power Commute Laptop Messenger Bag and Power Q Laptop Backpack from Timbuk2
Analyst Insight by Sulabh Madhwal - Analyst, Personal Accessories and Eyewear
Luxottica Group SpA and Safilo Group SpA dominate spectacle frames and sunglasses globally. Both companies offer comprehensive portfolios of licensed brands, making renewals and new partnerships vital in terms of retaining leadership. However, Luxottica managed to outshine Safilo in terms of portfolio changes over the review period, thus weakening the latter’s global position in spectacles.
Analyst Insight by May Ling Tham - Head of Personal Accessories and Eyewear
At the height of the corruption trial of Chinese politician Bo Xilai,
the Chinese government has identified the eyewear industry as an area
of corruption and anti-pricing investigation efforts, following a spate
of similar investigations across industries such as infant milk formula,
pharmaceuticals and jewellery. In this article, we take a look at the
anti-corruption clampdown in China and its impact on the eyewear
Spectacles and Not Automotive at the Centre of Investigation
The Chinese automotive industry was abuzz in August 2013 when a
Chinese automotive association claimed that it was collecting data on
behalf of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), an
anti-monopoly government arm which regulates prices and sets pricing
policies in the country. This led to a statement from the head of NDRC,
Xu Kunlin, clarifying that it was the spectacle industry which was
currently at the centre of its investigations. He added that such
investigations would be carried out in industries with high profit
Spectacles are being increasingly portrayed as lifestyle products,
used to accentuate one’s personality and status. While a simple pair of
spectacles may well serve its daily purpose of correcting one’s
eyesight, affluent young Chinese consumers are increasingly seeking
branded spectacles. Ray-Ban and Gucci frames and sunglasses are popular
in China, with these designer brands enjoying huge margins.
International spectacle companies have been the target of media discussion due to the high margins they enjoy.
Analyst Opinion by May Ling Tham, Head of Personal Care and Accessories
Approximately 285 million people worldwide live with limited vision and blindness, although 80% of these visual impairments are actually avoidable, according to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). IAPB, together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other worldwide communities and
organisations, observe World Sight Day every second Thursday of October.
This year, it falls on 10 October.
Source: International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)
On this day, associations, businesses and government bodies are
encouraged to hold events to raise awareness of blindness and vision
impairment. More importantly, the objective is to educate the masses and
encourage governments to participate and set aside funds for blindness
prevention programs. Euromonitor International takes a look at a couple
of these events around the world and at what more can be done to support
this meaningful cause.
Analyst Insights by Sulabh Madhawal - Analyst, Personal Accessories and Eyewear
Over the post-recession years of 2010-2013, sales of personal
accessories have grown disproportionately to consumers’ annual
disposable incomes. Surprisingly, personal accessories have not only
outpaced the growth of disposable incomes but also the growth of larger
industries such as apparel and beauty and personal care. We dissect this
development for the largest personal accessories markets in the world –
China, the US, India, Japan and Russia.
The Present Gulf in Consumption
With absolute per capita expenditure standing at US$289, US consumers
will spend nearly nine times more than Indian consumers on personal
accessories in 2013. Although it is inevitable that per capita
expenditure on personal accessories in India and China lags behind that
in Japan and US, it is interesting to analyse the respective proportions
of annual disposable income an average consumer spends on personal
Proportion of Annual Disposable Income Spent on Personal Accessories (Per Capita, 2013)
Analyst Insight by May Ling Tham, Head of Personal Accessories and Eyewear Research at Euromonitor International
Euromonitor International takes a look at polarised sunglasses, explains what they are and explores what is happening in
this niche eyewear category.
What are polarised sunglasses?
sunglasses come with lenses which contain a special filter to block out
horizontal light, thus reducing glare. Polarised sunglasses are popular with
outdoor enthusiasts who engage in water or snow sports. While marketers claim
polarised sunglasses are useful for drivers, others say that polarisation is
known to create blind spots.
downside of polarised sunglasses is reduced visibility on LCD and LED screens,
such as those on ATMs, dashboards in cars and mobile phones. The average price
of a pair of polarised sunglasses can be 25-30% more than that of a pair of
normal sunglasses. Popular polarised sunglasses brands include Polaroid
Eyewear, Ray-Ban, Oakley, Revo and Maui Jim.