OMO takes snapshot of European eyewear trend

The results of the six-monthly survey carried out by OMO – Optical Monitor – and developed by GFK for MIDO and Silmo, focus on buying habits and eyewear use in the five main countries of the Old Continent.

At the end of September the eighth six-monthly update of OMO-Optical Monitor was presented in Paris. The aim of the research was to offer sector operators an outline of consumers in France, Italy, Spain, Great Britain and Germany, and the current trends in the sector.

Trend focus
Which materials are most used? What shapes do consumers prefer?
According to the research, in the optical segment French and Italian consumers prefer eyewear in plastic while in Germany, Great Britain and, above all, Spain, they prefer metal. The latter country is the only one with quite a significant market for frames in horn. These are followed by mixed materials and titanium.
In the sun segment the trend is consistent: plastic eyewear, especially in Italy and Great Britain. Frames in horn are again the preference in Spain.
In the optical segment the preferred frame shapes are ‘full circle’ followed by rimless and semi-rimless. The purchase of rimless frames was shown to be highest in Italy.
The percentage of ‘full circle’ frames is higher in the sun segment. Also in this case, there is more room for rimless eyewear in Italy than in any of the other countries.
The research also revealed that consumers prefer square shapes (especially in France) in the optical segment.
However, in the sun segment in addition to square shapes, a significant slice of the market is composed of round shapes, especially in Germany.

The leadership of optical centres as a source of information
The survey showed that as a source of information about purchases, optical centre windows are still a driving force in all five countries. Surprisingly, in our sector the Internet is in second place, a countertrend that is characterizing modern day purchases.

Where are purchases made?
The majority of French consumers go to optical chains to buy prescription eyewear, but for sunglasses they go to independent opticians, even though the chains are still the preferred channel. In France there was an increase in the online purchase of sunglasses (particularly in 2017 vs 2016, and confirmed in 2018).
Optical chains in Italy experienced a downturn in the prescription segment, but independent opticians (which are still the principal channel) were fairly stable. There was an increase in outlets and “fashion channels”. The trend is similar for sunglasses, with stronger growth in the “fashion” channels.
The significant increase in the online channel for sunglasses recorded In Spain in 2017, was followed in 2018 by a slight decrease. For prescription eyewear there was net growth of independent retailers compared to optical chains. As far as sunglasses are concerned, purchases in this channel are stable, but online sales showed a downturn.
Like Spain, in 2018 the online channel for sunglasses in the United Kingdom showed a slight decline compared to 2017. However, the increase in online purchases of prescription eyewear was confirmed. Opticians are not an option for buyers of sunglasses.
Online purchases are the strongest in Germany. There is a considerable increase in prescription eyewear. For prescription eyewear and sunglasses optical chains are stable, but independent retailers are losing ground to the advantage of retail websites. For sunglasses a significant share of the fashion, drugstore and street market channels was confirmed.


Ph. Giovanni Vitaloni, President of MIDO