MIDO Outlook, first edition

Results of a GRS study on the expectations of Italian and foreign operators: for the next 3 years, optimism in a sector that confirms a dynamic and innovative vision.
MIDO President, Giovanni Vitaloni: “We would like MIDO Outlook to become the periodic point of reference that sector operators can trust”
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Objective: China. Boom in e-commerce and Facebook “King of Social” in eyewear: results of the first edition of MIDO Outlook, international survey of eyewear sector operators.
The study was conducted at the beginning of 2018 by GRS Ricerca e Strategia and involved a sample of about 2,000 Italian and foreign players who work in the various compartments of eyewear (retail, wholesale, manufacturing, services).

The objective of the study was to discover the trust level of operators in relation to sector conditions over the next 3 years. The current situation will be mapped, outlining a framework of future expectations on different indicators, including corporate expansion, turnover trends, export, criticalities for business and the relative impact, evolution of sales channels.

The interviews conducted on the sample confirmed some hypotheses, like the impact of exportation on the turnovers of Italian companies and privileged markets. At the same time, they succeeded in detecting investment priorities shifting eastward. Between Italian and foreign companies there are no significant differences, but there is a significant gap in the fear of counterfeiting which in Italy is a major concern among the players interviewed.

“The wealth of contacts that MIDO enables us to make in the sector, made it possible to complete a very interesting market survey on mid- and long-term eyewear trends,” – affirmed MIDO President, Giovanni Vitaloni, who also added: “we called it MIDO OUTLOOK and we would like it to become the periodic point of reference that sector operators can trust”.

Below is a summary of the results.

Level of trust
Sector operators are almost equally divided between positive (46.2%) and cautious/neutral (45.2%) concerning the current situation, with increasingly positive expectations for the next 3 years (57.1%), eating away at more cautious outlooks (34.1%). Pessimism, instead, concerning both the current situations and the future, is limited to less than 9%.

Those with a greater trust in positive development of the sector over 3 years are foreign companies (59.6%) compared to Italian ones (55.1%), with a particularly significant figure for service and manufacturing companies.
On the short term, operators expect stability in turnovers and employees, and even slight growth; mid-sized companies are expected to have the greatest level of satisfaction, while very small companies and those with more than 100 million in turnover are more prone to having to face critical situations.

Areas to be improved and evolution
The scenario remains unsettled by some critical issues that Italian players have noticed, concerning mainly fiscal and bureaucratic aspects. Moreover, strong competition (which impacts prices) and counterfeiting are among the top concerns of manufacturers. Abroad, instead, dynamic pricing is more worrisome while counterfeiting is decidedly less so.
In Italy, as well as abroad, credit recovery and access to credit have less of an impact.

Operators are emphasising the evolution of the sector: the top expectation for growth and development for the coming years in the sector are above all IT systems, ophthalmic lenses, and solar filters. At the bottom of the list instead are cases and accessories.
No scenario is envisioned as being impacted by the crisis, but the study indicates that sunglasses seem to be declining.

Markets and consumers
Healthy businesses – reveals the survey – also depends on export, with more than 40% of companies generate about half of their turnover abroad. About 86% of those interviewed export to western Europe, North America, and Asia, and while the USA is the main market. But in the future, “top of mind” is China: this is where operators believe they must invest to gain market shares, contemporaneously with the United States and Germany.

From production to the consumer, the optics store is the favoured sales channel of the moment, followed by direct sales and department stores. Currently e-commerce is playing a lesser role, but for the future, operators are predicting that electronic commerce will skyrocket in prescription eyewear, mostly at the cost of optics stores and department stores. Sunglasses are a case apart; as they have already penetrated e-commerce, this advantageous starting point is expected to bring further expansion.

Those interviewed clearly indicated what the most important characteristics in both prescription eyewear and sunglasses are for consumers: priorities are design and aesthetics, functionality of the frames, and lens quality. Product history and brand value are at the bottom of this list.

Communication channels
Fairs, websites, social network, and specialised publications are the favoured information channels for those interviewed: this is where considerable ground is won in terms of sales and brand penetration.

Indeed, the experts contacted participate in various sector events. MIDO was confirmed as the top eyewear event with a participation rate of more than 96% among those interviewed. Others in the “Top 5” of the fair classification are Silmo, Opti Monaco, DaTe and Optical Fair with decidedly lower figures, indicative also of different formats and public. Surprisingly, however, operators are also looking strategically towards other fairs, focussing mainly on events that open to markets off the beaten track, like the Far East (Tokyo and Beijing above all).

And if fairs remain the protagonists of “live” exchange, some relations are also virtual and take place on the web. Websites are fundamental as showcases for businesses and brands, while Facebook heads up the classification of social media: 80% of those interviewed claim they use it for work, with different strategies; it is not the only tool used, but Instagram and YouTube appear much further down in the ratings. The use of social media is most likely destined to grow, alongside the evolution of technological opportunities that the player expects in this sector.

The next edition of MIDO Outlook will take place in September and will be presented in the autumn.

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