Home >Brand Stories >Indians are not downtrading in luxury eyewear category, says Luxottica's Goyle

The local arm of Italy's premium and luxury eyewear company Luxottica said that Indian customers may have postponed their purchases but are not downtrading in the eyewear category, with its partner retailers' business reviving by 70% in September, said country head and MD, Akash Goyle. The company's range sells brands priced between 7,000 and 45, 000 depending on the type of frame and lenses.

"....because we operate in a category where customers are wearing our frames for up to 18 hours, we have not seen them compromising or downtrading on the frames and lenses. While the store walk-ins have declined but the average ticket size, for a luxury consumer, has been intact despite the covid disruption," said Goyle.

The company, which entered India in 2007, sells proprietary brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue Eyewear, as well as licensed brands, including Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Prada, Valentino, Versace, and others. It is present in India through more than 5,000 partner retail stores like Titan Eye Plus, Himalaya Optical, Lawrence & Mayo, Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle. It also has franchise stores under Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters.

Luxottica said its in-house brands Ray-Ban, Vogue and Oakley top the most selling list while luxury brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Burberry, Versace and Armani are most preferred by Indian consumers.

Goyle said that currently 98% of their partners' stores are operational except few airport stores. "(In) April and May, we had zero business. The revival in the business began June onwards, with 70% of business being recovered over last year in September in stand-alone stores in malls and high streets. Around 55% demand revival happened in departmental and travel retail stores," he noted.

In order to minimize contact at these outlets, Luxottica has launched "Smart Shopper" digital platform which offers digital collections and virtual try-on option. Currently the Smart Shopper interface, is available at three retail optical stores—Dayal Opticals (Delhi), R Kumar Opticians (Ahmedabad) and Weldon Opticians (Chandigarh). It will be extended to leading opticians across top 20 cities in India.

The luxury segment in the eyewear market has been growing steadily over the last decade fuelled by rising aspirations, awareness and accessibility to leading global brands and services.

"It is conceivable that the luxury segment will pick up faster as this consumer is perhaps economically the least impacted and I see no reason why they will want to change their lifestyle choices. As the economy opens up and moves towards normalcy, these consumers will revert to the pre-covid consumption levels a lot faster," added Goyle.

According to Ankur Bisen, senior vice-president, retail and consumer, Technopak, a management consultancy, while mature luxury consumers might not downtrade, the aspirational demand will definitely be impacted. Therefore, these set of consumers will be trading down to mid luxury or premium products.

"Instead of a Gucci, they will now buy Ray-Ban which is also manufactured by Luxottica. So their business will not take a major hit as the company has a dominant market share and a presence across price points in India," he added.

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