the eyewear market


1.1 Presentation

Belgium is experiencing an ageing population that is expected to stabilise by 2040. Indeed, there will then be only 2.6 times more people aged 18 to 66 than people over 66 (compared to 4 times more today). This demographic evolution is an important determinant of the optical market for a population that would change its frames once every 4 to 5 years.

In 2016, the average expenditure of Belgian households amounted to €34,167, more than a third of which is spent on housing and 4.6% on health care, including optics.

With 10% increase of prices over the last six years on the optics market, the Belgian optics market recorded the highest increase in Europe (compared to a 1.5% increase with France, for example).

This Belgian market consists of 60% self-employed charging higher prices than the major chains, which are the real players in the market and represent 50% market share.

In 2017, Belgium posted a total turnover of $1,105.38 million and ranks twelfth out of the fifty countries included in the Statista study, as shown in the following graph.


Optical market revenue (in millions of US dollars)

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.

A consumer association tried to explain this dissatisfaction on the part of consumers by means of a survey featuring a mystery shopper:

  • Only 24% of the opticians surveyed by the mystery shopper had asked questions about her activity in order to better serve her;
  • In more than 50% of the shops the cheapest frame cost more than 600€;
  • In 20% of cases, only personalized lenses were offered and only 8% of the opticians in the survey met the customer's expectations in view of her prescription.

To overcome this bad reputation, the APOOB ( Professional Association of Opticians ) and the Belgian Ministry of Economic Affairs drew up a code of good conduct at the end of 2016 in order to establish a transparent pricing policy for consumers and give them the opportunity to compare prices.

Following the implementation of this plan, the balance sheet is not very positive for the self-employed, who would only be 42 in the summer of 2017 to have adopted this code while their number is estimated at 1600-1800 professionals on the market.

Belgium therefore has a complicated optical market, with independents trying to survive in the face of giants and consumers who feel aggrieved by price increases or who are not listened to during the diagnosis because of the lack of transparency.



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chargé d'études économiques, Xerfi

Hugo Schott

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Owner and manager, EXEL Rise

Sébastien Wolff

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