India’s home-grown eyewear brand-Himalaya Optical is now eyeing a larger slice of the fast growing progressive lens pie. The 80-year old eyewear brand originating out of Kolkata has set out on a retail expansion journey towards this goal.
Although there is no specific authentic research data available, the lens producers in Indian market estimate that currently there are 200 million spectacle wearers in India, out of which nearly 25 – 30 million consumers are progressive wearers. The overall market is growing at nearly 10 per cent – 12 per cent YoY. Interestingly, of the 200 million spectacle wearers, nearly 25 per cent (which comes to 50 million) use branded spects while the balance 75 per cent (that is 150 million consumers) use unbranded spects. However the trend towards purchasing the eyewear from branded stores is on a rise, much to the pleasure of the branded players, said Sarat Binani, director, Himalaya Optical.
In order to tap this fast growing market, Himalaya Optical is expanding its retail footprint across India.
“At present, there are 115 outlets operating across the country. Out of that only 7 are on FOCO (franchise owned, company operated) model. Yes we have taken the franchisee route to grow the business, but currently we are a bit selective in terms of selecting our franchisee. We would like to add at least 60 stores in the period of next 3 years to take our store count to 180 by 2021. Out of this new addition of 60 stores, we plan to add at least 10 stores under FOCO model,” said Binani.
At present nearly 40 per cent of its revenue comes from the frame business and the balance from Lenses, Contact lenses, Sunglass and accessories. Complete Spectacle concept at one price point is the biggest introduction by Himalaya Optical towards increasing the consumer base and a perfect step towards bringing in simplification in overall buying experience to the consumer.
The most significant trend in the eyewear business, according to Binani is that the consumers have now prioritized eyewear purchase on the basis of its style, fashion statement, essential accessory and a persona enhancer along with the a device to correct vision. The other trend which they are now noticing is that, consumer is looking for simplification in selection process of spectacles which includes a pair of eyewear and lens. The simpler the process is, the easier it is for the consumer to close his or her selection.
“Eyewear purchase over the period of 5 years has changed drastically among the consumer. Purchasing of eyewear is no more limited to needs like durability, necessity or as an essential device for correction of vision. Rather the concept of buying eyewear is now prioritized on the basis of its style, fashion statement, essential accessory and a persona enhancer along with it being a device to correct vision. This concept of eye wear selection has dramatically changed the perception of eyewear as a fashion accessory and just not as a mere device to correct vision impairment. Nearly 80 to 90 per cent of our customers are now selecting their eyewear based on this concept, which eventually has made this fashionable eyewear segment a big segment,” said Binani, adding that the company is fully geared up to cater and tap the growing segment. Most of its in-house brands today are designed by in-house eyewear designers who travel around the world to understand the current styles in vogue and work round the clock to predict the upcoming fashion statement at least 6 to 8 months in advance, so that similar styles can be procured and produced in different markets of the world and be introduced much ahead in the Indian market.
Binani said, “As a brand Himalaya Optical is presently positioned as a mid to premium segment and we would like to keep this brand position intact. To cater to extremely high net worth premium consumers, we have introduced the concept of “Himalya Eye Boutique”, which is an endeavor to bring in to the Indians an array of ‘brands with a difference’ under one roof.
The new high definition series of lenses with extended arm’s length technology rolled out by Himalaya Optical, eases the lifestyle of new Presbyopes by addressing the evolving need of one’s visual habits. And to cater to the consumer’s new evolving habits, Himalaya Optical has introduced a new way of eye screening where we go beyond just giving your prescription, and the traditional measurements of PD and fitting heights. Visioffice® 2 is the new digital dispensing system which enables an optician to capture the natural posture or eye movements in the form of data, so that they are able to customise the lens to one’s natural movements to provide the most accurate, precise and customized lenses for all time comfortable vision, he said.