The Luxury and Allure of Selling High End Eyewear
Release Date: June 2008
Expiration Date: July 31, 2009
- Learn the opportunity for adding luxury brand to any office.
- Understand what changes are needed to make the addition successful.
- Determine whether your office needs the luxury boost.
There’s an opportunity for optical dispensers looking for a healthy profit and rich rewards. Like fine
jewelry and watches that hover in the $600-$1000 range, high-end and/or luxury eyewear is a new category for optical dispensers to enhance their business. The trick is finding the right formula for success—learning how to read consumer needs and desires, how to track sales, and manage inventory accordingly. Use
this course to learn the trends and the methods to add luxury to any practice.
It goes against every economic
indicator, but buying trends for
luxury products, powerful high-end brands, and big dollar accessory items have never been
By comparison, the forecast for
consumer spending in a number
of other big-ticket areas is bleak.
New housing, real estate and
transportation continue to suffer.
This split in economic trending
creates an opportunity for
looking for a
healthy profit and
rich rewards. The
trick is finding the right formula for
how to read consumer needs and
desires, how to track
sales, and manage
luxury eyewear is not
a new category for optical dispensers. Eyewear packages (the combined price of both
frame and lenses) have been popular for years with prices falling
comfortably in the $600 to $1000 range. It’s not uncommon, in fact,
for certain materials and detailing, to exceed that $1000 mark and
elevate a pair of eyewear into the same bracket as fine jewelry and
It’s important to be aware of two factors, here. First, the optical
market is currently seeing an increase in the number of high-end and
luxury brand names available. By the very nature of branding, this is
creating greater consumer awareness and stronger name recognition
of top-drawer products. And second, accessories (handbags, jewelry, fragrances, scarves, ties, watches, and, of course, sunglasses) are a
safe and reasonable entry into the luxury market for wary consumers.
Consumers love the idea of being able to buy a piece of the dream,
the aura, the mystique of a high-end brand. And that’s easier to do
with a pair of sunglasses or a scarf than it is with a piece of furniture
or a new car.
With so much awareness of luxury products, it is high time for
optical dispensing pros to consider either fine-tuning the merchandise mix or perhaps, after careful study of the demographics in the area, opting to move the entire practice
upscale. That said, this push toward luxury and quality products couldn’t
be a half-hearted
attempt or a superficial effort to bring in
a handful of high end styles. In order to dispense at this level, a practice—including
personnel and display treatments—must be committed to addressing the needs of this market.
SETTING THE SCENE
Stepping into luxury
and high-end eyewear
requires thoughtful consideration. There’s something
to that old saying, “You
can’t dress a wolf in sheep’s
clothing...” Taking beautiful, expensive items and
placing them on old and
dusty shelves or a broken frame board serves no one’s interest, least
of all the eyewear professional’s. It is crucial to consider the overall
appeal of the dispensary, the type and placement of fixtures, availability and knowledge of support staff—including sales, technical and
dispensing associates, as well as the demographics of current patients.
Simply put, can this practice support and sustain a shift into high-end merchandise? Before considering revising a frame product mix
to include a greater number of higher-priced brands, one must have
or devotedly develop a solid ground of quality service. Highly knowledgeable sales and dispensing associates, superb lens finishing and
lab procedures, and the determination to deliver exemplary support
for both the high end and luxury eyewear and sunwear market must
be in place.
SETTING THE SCENE
- Stand back and take a close look at the store and display areas, upgrade where needed or add stand-alone
glass cases to highlight the special collection(s).
- Use lights that can highlight and focus on specific
- Have the sales representative train staff on the identity of
the brand and the right words to use when describing it.
- Add point of sale cards that name the brand and when
possible accessories of the same designer (scarves, purses,
- Review the patient base for those that would be most
interested and send them an announcement card or call
and tell them that you just added a brand just right for
them. It’s time for them to visit.
It should be noted here that even these peripheral considerations
to selling a luxury product conform to basic premises as detailed by
Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, a research firm dedicated to helping retailers understand the idea of and allure of status.
Accordingly, Pedraza emphasizes both products and service
- Display consistent and superior quality
- Portray uniqueness and exclusivity
- Be valued by people who are admired and respected
- Make owners/perspective owners feel special
In addition to those standards portrayed by the Luxury Institute, it
is imperative that the dispensary reflects all of this top-drawer quality
in store fixtures, displays, storefront and window treatments, waiting
facilities and the all-important fitting environment. When it finally
comes down to a patient being faced (in every sense of that word)
with eyewear and sunglasses, it is crucial to set the scene. Do this and
you are ready to dispense a product steeped in brand-name quality
and brand-known status. And your patients will be ready to heed
your advice—and increase the bottom line.
Entertaining the task of dispensing luxury to eyewear patients/consumers means rolling out the very-important-person red carpet. The
brands demand it. The frames demand it. The lenses (and rich layers of lens treatments) demand it. The quality of service requires it.
The price requires it. And, most importantly, the patient expects it.
This VIP status is not exclusive to luxury eyewear. It is basic to selling any highly desired luxury item or marketable service.
And on that note, but specifically applied to concerns of dispensing, all of the following points must be treated as primary considerations.
Customers/patients deserve—and believe it or not, expect—nothing less than a treatment, style and range of comfort as superb as the
eyewear product being presented. This includes attentive one-on-one
dispensing, with absolutely no disruptions or intrusions, as well as
open consultation advice during every step of the process from exam
to fitting. Even the experience of waiting must be given consideration. Attention must be pre-focused on reading materials that promote the best in top-notch eye and health care, publications that
enhance and reflect high-end product advertisements and rich,
In lenses, consider progressives like Shamir Autograph and the extra fitting measurements taken to return a lens that is considered
for the as-worn fitting position. This ensures the most faithful replication of the doctor’s prescription in the lenses. Or, consider adding
Crizal Avancé with Scotchgard as the luxury AR that is available to
everyone on a premium Essilor progressive like Varilux Physio 360°.
Regardless of the frame chosen, all lenses should also deliver the identity of luxury.
Nothing in the process can—or should—slip in quality. Cases
must be perfect. Lenses must be continually cleaned to a jewel-like
shine. Sitting must be at once relaxing, yet appropriate to mirror
Money is being invested so customers feel better starting with a
presentation of the best in frames, lenses and potentially accompanying sunwear. Saving money and cost cutting has no place in this
opening position. It
sets a wrong
course and a
cheapens the whole
For example, “Try this Dior frame. Its inspiration is the floral
detailing found in clothing and accessories from the runway, finished
exquisitely in Swarovski Crystals”.
The “try on” should never be rushed. Aim high and let the patient
pace the process and the level of attentiveness required. Most luxury
experiences include the plateau of the sale as part and parcel of the
process leading to a high-end purchase of a luxury brand product.
Never skimp on presentation. Display cases must be impeccable in
appearance. Trays should be lined in high-grade fabrics and coordinated to each specific brand. Of course, they are clean and not faded.
- Treatment, style, and comfort as superb as the eyewear
- One-on-one dispensing
- No disruptions or intrusions
- Consultation &advice during every step of the process
- Pre-focuses reading materials that promote the
best in top-notch eye and health care
- Publications reflect high-end eyewear and
rich, lifestyle choice
Signage must never confuse the message; a unified and coordinated vision must be on display.
Show frames as if every item is a piece of precious jewelry. Handle
each frame delicately. Encourage that delicate touch for the patient.
Keep the dispensing tray and table mix of frames at a minimum of
two or three at a time so that there is never confusion over what
selections have been made and eliminated.
Others can’t match this kind of service. So, to be a high-end retailer, you can't afford to err on customer service, it’s what will build
Make sure the frame mix is distinctive and relatively exclusive. Don’t layer on brands to confuse or conflict with the
identity of a targeted merchandise mix. If your
range of inventory does not include a frame or
a specific brand that is requested, make sure you
are educated enough to provide viable alternatives. Every brand has a competitive brand. Every
price-point has a complementary priced product.
It is important not to overstock, to offer too much
of a good thing. Know your clientele and cater
specifically to their desires. Too much of a good
thing is still too much. And too many choices can
inhibit the selling process.
Fill in the spaces between luxury brand categories with some
exclusive boutique collections or brands not commonly known. Such
a selling structure breeds positive exclusivity and in-the-know value
for both the dispenser AND the consumer.
All dispensers and sales associates must know key, signature features of any given luxury brand presented to a customer. That knowledge needs to broadly encompass signature elements as they relate
to all products of the brand (for example: leather and belting features
of a handbag) and the eyewear of that brand (logo treatments, hinge
Here’s an example of a Gucci design
element and its use. This texture logo
detailing is used in
handbags and watches. Men as well as women readily identify this textural logo with a particular style and
fashion. Don’t miss showing, describing and using this brand’s identity to deliver what patients specifically look for in Gucci products.
High end branding is not immune to the ups and downs of fashion trends. But within that arena there are elements of style that are
classic and enduring. Actual good taste is quite timeless and there are
fashionable crests that remain solid directions of what is tasteful and
what is not.
Simply said, it is crucial to stay current, ahead of the trends, and
always within the boundaries of good taste. It is a delicate—but
obtainable—balance. Here are some current and timeless trends
worth considering. Remember, you must always remain open, fresh
and aware of what is trending in ALL luxury markets in order to stay
on the cutting edge of dispensing luxury eyewear. Read fashion magazines; look for spectacles and especially sunglasses ads, they are the
same ones that your patients are seeing. Note when designers use eyeglasses on their models on the runway. Also, look through the Sunday
newspaper and its inserts for sunglass ads. High fashion and luxury is
being advertised. Also visible is the retail price. This actually helps
predispose the patient and helps them understand
the cost of style.
to thrive on glamour,
retro-visions, and previous
style dictates of the 50s, the 60s and
the 70s in order to deliver products
that are at once modern, yet respectful of the past. Eyewear is equally a
part of that designer planning. Rena-ta Espinosa, who writes for Fashion
Wire Daily said in her Mar 20th description about the introduction
of Jimmy Choo sunwear, “Inspired by oversize frames from the '70s
and ‘80s… they're perfectly in keeping with the Jimmy Choo vibe of
fame and fabulousness, being one of Hollywood's favorite labels for
completing a red carpet look.”
Design elements are brand specific and ensure the timeless appeal
of the best brands. Here, this Gucci frame (GG2793) sports the iconic bamboo horse bit. The bamboo handle bag was first introduced
in 1947. It has become an important icon for Gucci and is a functional identifier that is sought by
patients. As a subtle brand identifier, it is being used in shoes,
handbags, and timepieces. Be
sure to point it out when showing this frame.
Current prescription frame
styles are trending away from the diminutive and unisex blandness
that resonated during the 90s. Use branded frames with temple treatments that will help you promote and dispense
Premium materials rule any luxury product and eye-wear is no exception. Stay well versed on custom and
colorful zyl treatments from both Europe and Japan. Stay
keenly aware of developments in pure titanium and beta
titanium, gold, silver, aluminum, platinum, horn and wood
treatments, and frames featuring subtle combinations of
both plastic and metal. Be prepared with a healthy but rich
assortment of both rimless and semi-rimless styles. The top
brands all exhibit strength in any number of these material wisdoms.
Describe to patients the beauty the newest custom colorations, innovative filigrees, zyl layering and state-of-the-art hinge
Look to promote extravagant details and unique accents. Consider
jewels (especially diamonds), precious crystals, leather trim, fabric inlays
and patterns, lace work patterns, engravings and lavish logo treatments.
Logos are, in fact, a specialized category. Study a patient’s preference for either bold or subtle logos and take THEIR lead here when
it comes to presenting eyewear. Many times the logo represents the
whole brand’s philosophy and following in a letter treatment that
goes right to the heart and head of a consumer. An understanding of
the power of logo-ing can never be underrated when considering the
concept of luxury eyewear.
A good deal of luxury’s appeal is often hidden. Be aware of a
frame’s inner delights including contrasting colorations inside the
temple pieces and frame face, endpiece details, microscopic hinge
details and even the wearer-driven attribute of how a frame
folds, closes and positions itself
in a luxurious case.
Cutting edge technology is
fashion that functions.
LUXURY LOVES COMPANY
A key element of luxury is the ability to build a wardrobe of eye-wear for the consumer. Never underestimate the power of add-ons—
readers, sunwear, and accessory items, even a spare pair. There is
potential here in both men’s and women’s categories.
Although a brand may strive for a sense of exclusivity, that uniqueness does not rule out association of other products within the
brand’s domain. And just as that association extends to other products (like eyewear) the extension
also brings into play wardrobing
for glasses specialized to other purposes, other lifestyle decisions and,
most importantly, the all-important
addition of sunglasses to the mix.
Letting your customer go with
just one pair of glasses is actually
vision care neglect. Sun protection is the responsibility of the eye-care professional. At the time of any purchase it is the duty of any
ECP to offer the advice and availability of appropriate sunglasses.
And that extension should take into consideration any number of
driving, a range
of sport activities
and (coming full
circle) the glamour and drama of luxury branded sunglasses. (See
the Star-Struck sidebar for more information on this “added” value
Sunglasses are actually the most powerful branding message carrier. It is usually sunglasses that
play out the brand loyalty factor
in stage, screen, red carpet and
fashion runway coverage. To
avoid that arena is tantamount
to sidestepping the work companies put in to marketing their
products through advertising,
product placement and via the celebrity driven coverage of the media.
Availing a practice to that sort of advertising and marketing by association is perhaps the smartest “luxury” step any optical practice
Breaking Away- Sáfilo provided some of
Tinseltown’s newest and hottest celebs wih cool shades
recently at the seventh annual “Breakthrough of th Year
Awards” hosted by Hollywood Life magazine in Los
Angelos. After each award, the recipients and presenters were escorted to gifting suites by Solstice
Sunglasses Boutique/Sáfilo and other companies.
Award winners showing off thier new sunwear are
actress Leslie Mann (9) from the film “Knocked Up”
in Stella McCartney 76s, music producer J.R.
Rotem (10) in Bottega Veneta 61’s, “Lost” star Elizabeth Mitchell (11) in Giorgio Armani 556’s
and Edgar Ramirez (12) from the movie...
SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS.
And the success of selling eyewear and sunglasses is increasingly tied to the appearance of eyewear on the faces of celebrities. Consumers are enthusiastic for the brands and luxury
glasses associated with their favorite celebrities. Spotting a
frame in a movie or a sunglass at an awards-event red carpet
begins a journey of “wanting” and “needing” the same.
Playing this high profile frame-game has some unique and
rewarding advantages. And although the bid toward luxury is
lucrative, it is once again well worth reminding ECP’s that
none of this high-valued advice falls on the dark side of manipulating customers. It’s about offering quality goods in a quality
environment. Quality eyewear is a win/win situation for dispensers AND patients.
That said…look to the
Read magazines that
prominently feature celebrities and other icons of fashion and
these magazines in
point patients to a photo
or an ad to illustrate the
wearability of a style.
Consider installing a
flat screen TV and running footage from fashion shows, celebrity events and award
shows on a continuous loop.
Hang and display artwork that reinforces this connection at
point of sale.
Host themed trunk shows—a staple of the luxury market—
tied to key events: A Night at the Oscars, or On the Road to
Cannes, are just two examples.