The global eyewear market, valued at around $138 billion, is expected to enjoy robust growth, with a projected annual growth rate of 8.1% from 2020 to 2027, driven mainly by an aging population, rising disposable incomes and fashion trends. Despite relatively low eyewear penetration in Belgium, the Belgian market anticipates growth due to demographic changes and the rise of e-commerce, where online sales have climbed by 17%. The Belgian market, made up of over 2,000 optical stores, is strongly influenced by major players such as EssilorLuxottica and GrandVision, and has seen prices rise by 10%. Technological impacts on vision and a potential increase in the need for vision correction also point to a rise in demand. In commercial terms, Belgium imports more eyewear than it exports, with a coverage rate of 53.9%.

Dynamics and trends in the Belgian eyewear market

In recent years, the Belgian eyewear market has witnessed significant changes and trends that paint a picture of an industry in transition. Demand for eyewear in Belgium has revealed a population increasingly dependent on glasses, with 44.9% of those surveyed in a CINT study saying they use them. Interestingly, the number of people using both glasses and contact lenses saw a slight decline, while those relying solely on glasses saw an increase.

This consumer behavior aligns with the wider European trend where a substantial proportion of the population, particularly in countries like Slovakia, are spectacle users, pointing to wider acceptance and, potentially, a greater need for visual aids. As technology advances, there is growing concern about the health consequences of prolonged screen time leading to visual defects such as myopia. This, combined with an aging population, which is expected to rise from around 18.81% to over 22.34% of people aged 65 or over between 2018 and 2030, points to a growing demand for eyewear.

While the penetration rate of spectacles in the Belgian market remains relatively low (around 40%), we can expect demographic change and the technological impact on eye health to catalyze market growth. Interestingly, consumer preferences for contact lenses have also been reflected in aesthetic desires, with a penchant for blue-colored lenses, as indicated by the preferences of around 20-26% of the population. This suggests an opportunity for diversification in the contact lens segment, where aesthetics play a notable role in consumer choice, alongside functionality. Notably, Google Trends' analysis of demand trends illustrates seasonal fluctuations, with high interest in eyewear searches peaking in summer, which is largely attributed to the increased need for sunglasses. Search interest also peaks during the festive season, indicating that eyewear is purchased as a gift or takes advantage of seasonal sales.

In terms of market structure, Belgium boasts over 2,000 optical stores, with a growing trend towards franchising. The majority of eyewear sales are still in the hands of independent entrepreneurs, who account for around 60% of the sector. However, the influence of large conglomerates such as EssilorLuxottica, following the acquisition of GrandVision, is notable, with a steadily expanding European footprint. On the production side, the "Made In" movement has gained momentum, with companies emphasizing local sourcing and production of eyewear, aligning themselves with consumers.

Key players in the Belgian eyewear market: Navigating the competitive landscape The Belgian eyewear market is a dynamic and competitive field, with several important players influencing its structure and consumer choice. Let's delve into the landscape and highlight some of the key market players who shape the way Belgians see the world.

  • LuxotticaEssilor - The giant at the helm The giant LuxotticaEssilor occupies a prominent place in the eyewear industry. It is a titanic amalgam resulting from the merger of Italy's Luxottica, known for its elegant frames and vast portfolio of brands including Ray-Ban and Oakley, and France's Essilor, renowned for its high-quality lens technology. Together, these behemoths create an entity that not only occupies a prominent place in Belgium, but also exerts a formidable influence on a global scale.
  • GrandVision - Global players with local impact GrandVision is a major global player in the Belgian market. Following its acquisition by the LuxotticaEssilor group, GrandVision has further strengthened its market position. It includes well-known retail brands such as Pearle and GrandOptical, which have become familiar names on Belgian streets.
  • Afflelou - The French touch in Belgium With French roots, Afflelou is another transnational player in the field, offering an extensive range of eyewear. With a strategic assortment that caters for different price categories, Afflelou extends its offer from inexpensive frames to more upscale options, guaranteeing a match for all wallets and preferences.
  • Hoet Optiek - The local virtuoso On the local front, Hoet Optiek deserves a mention for its specialist position in the Belgian market. By focusing on innovative designs and customized solutions, Hoet Optiek brings a more personalized touch to those looking for unique eyewear that stands out from the mass market offerings.
  • Theo - spearheading e-commerce with vision Theo is an interesting brand that has made a name for itself, particularly in the e-commerce arena. Aware of the growing preference for online shopping, Theo has succeeded in combining the convenience of e-commerce with the personalized service that eyewear consumers seek, proving itself to be a forward-thinking player in the digital space.

All these players, from giants to local champions, form a fascinating market mosaic that offers Belgian consumers a palette of choices. Whether it's the luxury of a designer frame, the need for precision lenses or a pair of spectacles, Belgian consumers are spoilt for choice.

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  • Last update : 26/11/2021
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Summary and extracts

1 Market summary

1.1 Presentation

The eyewear market includes items and accessories worn on or over the eyes. Eyewear is used for a number of reasons, for example as a fashion adornment, for lack of visual abilities, or for protection.

The three main categories of the eyewear industry indeed include:

  • Spectacles
  • Sunglasses
  • Contact lenses

The industry therefore includes all actors and processes involved in the design, production and retail of eyewear.

Globally, promising projections towards growth of the market are expected. The aging population and consequently development of life expectancy around the world is one of the variables responsible for the positive forecast of a growing number of people needing spectacles. In developed countries, the estimates grow even farther, with around 70% of adults in need of corrective lenses. The latter is reinforced by the rise in disposable income, which is expected to continue to push premiumization of the eyewear industry in all segments, especially among non-corrective glasses.

The Belgian market in the specific is expected to be influenced in addition by the changes in demographics, the channel proliferation (e.g. internet), and emerging fashion trends.

1.2 A global & European context

Eyewear Market Size World, ****-****, in US$ billion Source: ****

The global eyewear market was valued at close to $*** billion in ****. This is a small increase of CAGR *.*% per year since **** according to Euromonitor. The market is projected to experience strong growth of *.*% from **** to **** according to Grandviewresearch. The market is dominated ...

1.3 Domestic market

Today, the Belgian consumer points to a general lack of transparency in the offer offered by the major chains and does not understand the constant price inflation practiced in shops.

To overcome this bad reputation, the APOOB (***) and the Belgian Ministry of Economic Affairs drew up a code of good conduct ...

1.4 International Trade

Trade of Eyewear Belgium, ****-****, in € million and in % Source: ****

Source: ****

The graph above illustrates the trade of eyewear in Belgium. From this, it is evident that Belgium imports more eyewear than it produces and exports. Indeed, the coverage ratio (***) was **.*% in ****, which implies that imports are almost twice as large ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Profile Analysis: The Belgian Consumer

Demand Overview

Do you use glasses or contact lenses? Belgium, ****-****, in % Source: ****

In a study by CINT, it was revealed that the majority of Belgian respondents used glasses in **** (***), and *.*% used both glasses and lenses. A mere *.*% used lenses only. Moroever, the number of users of glasses and non-users has ...

2.2 Demand Trends

Google Trends Belgium, ****-****, in units Source: ****

The graph above represents the proportion of searches for a given term in a given region during a specified amount of time, compared to when it was the most searched (***). Thus, a value of ** means that the keyword has been used less often in ...

2.3 A complementary market

Sales of eye care Belgium, ****-*****, in € million Source: ****

The graph above illustrates the market size in Belgium for eye care products, measured through sales. Eye care is the treatment of the eyes, often through industry specialist such as opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists. In ****, this market was valued at €**.* million in ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Market Overview

In Belgium, there are just over *,*** optical shops. This number is growing. One of the reasons for this growth can be explained by the ageing population, which is leading more and more people to wear glasses. In recent years, franchising has come to the forefront. According to the Professional Association of ...

3.2 Production


Production sites of the optics market diverge, from the great leaders established in Belgium to the historical houses and the new brands and start-ups that are emerging. Depending on the range, glasses and lenses are not all manufactured in the same place.

Eyeglasses frames are typically made of either metal ...

3.3 Distribution


Although the number of players make in the market is fragmented, when looking at sales we find that the market for glasses in Belgium is highly concentrated and, like in many countries in Europe, sales are dominated by EssilorLuxottica. In ****, the company further strengthened its’ position in Europe by acquiring ...

4 Analysis of the offer

4.1 Product Analysis


Broadly speaking, the three large sectors within the eyewear industry include:

Spectacles (***) Sunglasses Contact lenses

The product offer is broad and is measured according to the different needs of the eyesight. Glasses with different types of lenses, contact lenses, sunglasses with polarizing lenses or different colors for a specific need, ...

4.2 Price Analysis

In the optical sector, price variations are large and depend on different parameters such as the type of glass, quality, place of production, and production line. The distribution channel also plays a part; spectacles can be sold in pharmacies, with opticians, in supermarkets, etc., and most of the time a retailer's ...

4.3 Supply Trends


A trend impacting both corrective and non-corrective eyewear is the progressive impact personalization has on consumer buying patterns. According to a study by Deloitte one of out of three consumers base their shopping on the ability to personalize a product. The trend is impacting all industries, and it interests in ...

5 Rules and regulations

5.1 Regulation

The requirements for the registration of optician activities in the Crossroads Bank of Companies are as follows:

management knowledge base sectoral professional competence

Sectoral professional competence can be demonstrated in three different ways:

a title article ** of the Royal Decree of **/**/**** determines which titles can be accepted. [***] a professional practice in ...

6 Positioning of the actors

6.1 Segmentation

List of charts

  • Eyewear Market Size
  • How many people (approximately) wear spectacles?
  • Do you use glasses or contact lenses?
  • How often do you visit/consult with an optometrist/opthalmologist (eye doctor)?
  • Share of population aged 65 and above
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Latest news

BBGR boosts Seine-et-Marne capacity by 30% to keep pace with growth in Nikon optical lenses - 30/03/2024
  • - BBGR is a subsidiary of EssilorLuxottica.
  • - The company has specialized in optical lenses for over 170 years.
  • - BBGR will increase capacity at its Provins site by 30% from April.
  • - The Provins site employs 235 people.
  • - The aim of this capacity increase is to meet strong demand for Nikon lenses, produced at Provins since 2016.
  • - Since 2016, volumes of Nikon lenses manufactured at Provins have increased 15-fold.
EssilorLuxottica passes the €25 billion sales mark - 15/02/2024
  • In 2023, the company spent 1.7 billion euros on R&D between 2020 and 2022, in particular to develop connected and/or hearing glasses. Before the summer, the company will inaugurate an optics laboratory (300 employees) in Wissous (Essonne). In the second half of 2024, its first hearing glasses will be marketed in the United States.
  • The product potentially concerns the 1.25 billion people affected by mild hearing loss.
  • To integrate a miniature hearing aid into a pair of glasses, the company acquired the Israeli start-up Nuance in 2022.
  • Its brand portfolio has expanded to include Moncler, Jimmy Choo, Brunello Cucinelli and Ferrari licenses.
  • 18,000 directly-operated stores in 150 countries, including 1,000 in France.
EssilorLuxottica integrates a hearing aid into its glasses - 09/01/2024
  • Launch of "Nuance" glasses that act as hearing aids.
  • Microphones camouflaged in the frames enable the wearer to concentrate on and amplify the voice of the person speaking
  • First equipment with virtually invisible hearing aids
  • While 1.6 billion people worldwide suffer from hearing loss, this figure is expected to rise to 2.5 billion by 2050
  • Nuance Audio glasses, which will be available in three models, will be sold by hearing aid practitioners, in EssilorLuxottica's distribution network (18,000 stores) and on the Internet.
  • Acquisition of Israel-based Nuance Hearing, which has developed a small tabletop device that amplifies sound
In the heart of the Meuse region, Essilor breaks records to produce special ophthalmic lenses - 11/08/2023
  • Essilor's SL Lab site merged in 2018 with Italian eyewear manufacturer Luxottica.
  • It employs 81 people in the special lenses production unit.
  • Each year, they produce around 80,000 ophthalmic lenses, half of which are shipped for export.
  • In France, around 1 in 1000 people suffer from extreme visual defects such as myopia or hyperopia.
  • It takes three years of compulsory training for employees to become autonomous.
  • Since the unit was set up in 2014, 300,000 special lenses have been produced.
Optics: EssilorLuxottica accumulates records - 23/02/2023
  • Optical giant's sales to grow by 13.9% in 2022
  • North America, its leading market, grew by 4% at constant exchange rates, to almost 11.5 billion euros.
  • European momentum is even stronger: +11.2% to 8.7 billion euros
  • Asia remains solid

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Hoet Optiek
Theo Eyewear
Essilor Luxottica groupe

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the eyewear market | Belgium

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