There have been a number of industry blogs over the last several months addressing the need for affordable sunglasses for budget-minded consumers. Many of the posts include the common thread of Luxottica's dominance of the eyewear market, a dominance that many believe has led to astronomical price increases that have far surpassed the rate of inflation. Reading them got us wondering why so many people think buying a pair of sunglasses has to break the bank.
It is our position that breaking the bank is not necessary. We prove as much with the products we sell. For example, retailers can buy our wholesale Aviator sunglasses for around $2.00 per pair. Even with the generous markup that makes retail eyewear so financially lucrative, end users can still get a great pair of sunglasses for under $40. One of our retailers could even sell a $2.00 pair of glasses for $20.00 and still make good money.
So why do people spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of sunglasses they could get for a lot less? There are as many reasons as there are eyewear buyers. Below are the top three.
Reason #1: Effective Branding
If there is one thing we have learned as an eyewear designer and wholesaler, it is this: branding is everything. A free-market economy like ours requires companies to set themselves apart from the competition in every conceivable way. Yes, they do it with quality and variety, but they also do it through branding.
As a subset of the fashion industry, the eyewear industry has done a very effective job of elevating some brands above others. More importantly, consumers are very loyal to their preferred brands. If a company can successfully convert a paying customer to a loyal customer, that individual will stick with that brand unless the company behind it does something to chase him or her away.
Reason #2: Money Equals Status
Another thing a free-market economy does is conflate money with status. In other words, our culture teaches us that you have to have money to be considered successful. The end result is a general perception that wealth and status go hand-in-hand. If you do not have money, you have no social standing.
There are consumers who pay hundreds of dollars for sunglasses because they believe doing so affords them a certain level of status they would not enjoy if they purchased a less expensive pair of sunglasses. If status is your thing, you will pay just about anything to get it.
Reason #3: Consumer Ignorance
Finally, we have to mention consumer ignorance. Very few people know how big and dominating Luxottica really is in eyewear. They also don't know that companies like Olympic Eyewear make sunglasses of equal quality but at lower prices. And when people are ignorant, they go with what is already familiar.
We are proud to say that we are the company behind reputable brands like Air Force, Nitrogen, X-Loop, CG, Manhattan, USA, and more. We know that our brands are not as easily recognizable as competitors like Ray-Ban, but they will be in time. It is just a matter of getting our sunglasses into the hands of consumers so that they can figure out they don't need to break the bank to protect their eyes and look good at the same time.
We may be an underdog in the designer eyewear industry, but we don't plan to remain there for long. With your help as a retail seller of Olympic Eyewear brands, we intend to continue aggressively competing for what we believe is a wide-open market. We hope you will join us.