Most historians will claim eyewear was invented in Italy around 1284. Today more than 80% of major eyewear brands, including the world’s n°1 seller Ray-Ban, are designed and retailed by the Italian brand, Luxottica. Luxottica is a powerful player in a highly potential industry. The brand ranks n° 51 in Forbes’ list of Most Innovative Companies. Next to that, recent figures suggest some 2.5 billion people globally require vision correction and with people wearing eyewear up to 14 hours a day, the eyewear market represents an attractive, risk-averse sector for luxury fashion brands.
But as in every industry, the future is fast and furious and every industry has its own disruptions which change the rules of the game. In 2010, Warby Parker (an American rebellious brand of designer eyewear) entered the eyewear sector with the goal to dramatically undercut the dominant glasses makers. By designing glasses in-house and selling only directly to consumers, the company significantly lowers the cost of its glasses.
It’s clear that these types of start-ups challenge the status quo in a sector and encourage existing players to rethink and keep investing in their own brand and strategy for the future. So in 2013, Luxottica decided to re-create its vision for the future. The company created a more open-source and two-way relationship with the Millennial generation through an online research community (the Ray-Ban Trend Envisioners).
Luxottica presented their story at the ESOMAR (World association for market research) Congress in Nice last month. The case shows how they connected with creative Millennials around the world (from Beijing, New Delhi, Tokyo, Sao Paolo and Mexico City to London, NYC, LA, Paris and Sydney) and encouraged them to act as trend spotters looking for hot trends online, in retail and in local fashion.
At the ESOMAR Congress, Simona Sbarbaro, Global Head of Research and Insights at the Luxottica Group, talked about how eyewear is evolving from a health care product to one of the most powerful accessories, reshaping and reframing young people’s visual identity, from eyewear to I-wear. She also explained how Luxottica is re-thinking its approach to the eyewear category based on the research learnings:
- Eyeglasses and sunglasses are two completely different industries therefore they both need a completely different approach. Eyeglasses represent the ‘true’ visual identity, through which Millennials show their ‘real me’, whilst sunglasses are rather fashion and lifestyle accessories.
- Eyewear needs to get closer to people. An eyewear brand needs to help Millennials on their journey to eyeglasses. It’s about finding the glasses that fit your visual identity, your mood in any kind of situation.
Hot tweetaway: From #eyewear to I-wear with @luxottica insit.es/1oJCuBv by @Anke_InSites via @CoolBrands #mrx #coolbrands #esoCong
Want to learn more on how Millennials are shifting from eyewear to I-wear? Read the full ESOMAR paper online.