Fashion is out, innovation has the future

augustus 5, 2014

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For many years the optical industry profited to the max from the publicity generated by the major fashion brands which are still “hot” in countries where brands define your status. However, in the Netherlands and more and more other European countries, we see a decrease in added value of those brands. We don’t want large and striking logo’s anymore and today’s well-informed consumer is more and more aware of the difference between the real brand and its licensed products. Smart me-too suppliers tell the client that they produce exactly the same product and often in the same factories but much cheaper because they don’t use a fashion brand name. And often enough, they are right.

There is work to do for manufacturers who need to create new and real added value for their products. Just the name or the logo of a fashion brand is definitely not enough. The added value should be found in innovation. The current trend with simple acetate frames encourages copycats and online suppliers and make their job far too easy. Especially when they create a cool imago, a great communication and strong marketing strategies. This way, as an (online) supplier, you can be successful with a limited collection of about 20 styles, produced from a limited amount of acetate in some standard colours.

To distinguish yourself as an (independent) optician and be successful in the future as well, you need to choose for more advanced and innovative products and production techniques as well as for fresh new ideas, and most of all communicate them in a good and modern way. Who today wants to buy a mobile phone of 10 years ago or a television with the techniques of 1990? And although we all love vintage cars, still most of us prefer to buy the latest type. Especially younger consumers, used to modern products or interested in sustainability, want to be surprised by new options. Fortunately we have lots of them in this industry. We just forget to communicate them and stores fail to present them the way they should. That is a pity not only because the consumer deserves to get all the information but also because it is necessary for every (independent) optician to sell innovative products and distinct themselves from cheap (online) suppliers.

We have more than enough better, more interesting, modern and often surprising materials, highly advanced high-tech production techniques, more comfortable frames and sunglasses and new generations of lenses and contactlenses but the stores still sell too many “old” products, made of materials we already used fifty years ago and produced with old-fashioned machines which smart suppliers like to present as “cool vintage craftsmanship”. I think it is time for some fresh air. Great challenge for all those suppliers and opticians that take their job seriously and have an eye for the future.

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