Ever wonder why your designer glasses come with exorbitant price tags? While it is common sense that consumers are charged a premium for designer products because of the brand name they associate with, there’s actually more to that when it comes to designer glasses. And it is this company that is behind the hefty price tags:
LUXOTTICA – An optical illusion of variety
Luxottica is a giant eyewear company that’s founded in 1961 in Italy by then 25 year-old Leonardo Del Vecchio. He is the 50th richest person according to Forbes as of 2017.
You might not have heard of the company name, Luxottica at all; however, you must have heard of all those major eyewear designer brands the company owns like Ray Ban, Oakley, Chanel, Armani Exchange, Burberry, Prada, Versace, just to name a few. The company is the largest eyewear company in the world, and in fact, it monopolizes the designer eyewear market.
Thus, there’s a very high chance that you are actually BUYING PRODUCTS that are owned by the SAME company every time you choose to buy designer glasses despite the ostensibly brand variety.
What makes designer glasses so expensive?
Imagine you have to pay 600 to 1000 Ringgit (150 – 200 USD) for a few pieces of plastic and metals just because there’s a RayBan logo on it. Sounds crazy? Yes, it is indeed. However, as eyewear has become more of a fashion statement over the years (although prescription glasses are considered medical devices!) than just a few pieces of plastic and metals, people are really willing to fork out that amount of money to fulfil their gratification of designer brands.
Adding to that sentiment, Luxottica does not really have to worry about competition from other frame manufacturers since the company owns a HUGE portfolio of established designer brands.
Unlike in budget airline industry where price competition is fierce, Luxottica can simply charge the consumers a premium for the array of designer brands it carries since the company dominates the designer market.
Think you can escape from Luxottica? Not quite there yet.
Go to all major international airports and big shopping malls around the world, you would definitely come across Sunglass Hut, wouldn’t you? Luxottica owns them.
If you live in North America, You probably know LensCrafters, don’t you? Luxottica owns them.
What about the giant E-commerce store glasses.com? Luxottica is the owner.
And the world’s largest manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses, Essilor? Well, this leads to the next heading.
Luxottica + Essilor
Undoubtedly, Luxottica is the biggest designer frame manufacturer in the world. On the other hand, Essilor is the largest ophthalmic lens manufacturer in the world with its global market share that’s close to a whooping 40% (in the prescription lens and optical instruments division).
You could easily imagine what would happen if the two giants combined. And it is actually happening!
Luxottica and Essilor are poised to merge to form a super giant that may eventually dominate the upmarket prescription glasses industry.
Footnote: Sorry my Malaysian readers 🙁 I could not find any news regarding the merger as far as Malaysia is concerned. However, do leave a comment if you have any information on this as I am very keen on finding out what is gonna happen!
Not all glasses are expensive!
Up until here, everything I said above really only matters if you’re a diehard fan of designer frames and upmarket ophthalmic lenses. There are still a lot of other smaller eyewear and lens manufacturers apart from the two aforementioned giants especially in South East Asia.
In Malaysia alone, it appears to me that the smaller Chinese/Korean/Japanese eyewear and ophthalmic lens brands make up a bigger chunk of the market share in the country.
Hence, you can still find relatively cheap prescription glasses in Malaysia if compared to Europe and North America since many smaller eyewear and prescription lens brands are widely available and they are competing to lead the market in the region.