1.1 Definition and scope of study
The optical market includes items and accessories used at the eye level. Optical products can be used as a fashion accessory, as a protection accessory or to improve the vision of its user.
The three largest categories in the eyewear industry are:
- Eyeglasses (corrective and non-corrective)
- Contact lenses
The online optical market is therefore linked to both the general optical market and the e-commerce market. It is therefore highly dependent on the fluctuations of these two markets, and includes all the players and processes involved in the online sale of glasses (lenses, frames or both) and lenses.
Globally, Europe dominated the market with a 37% market share in 2020. As for eyewear sold online, it accounted for 21% of total eyewear sales in 2020. The growth of this sub-segment is driven by attractive prices and different offers as well as an improved customer journey, which gives the possibility to easily compare prices and features of eyewear but also to read and write product reviews.
In Italy, the online optical market grew by 40% in 2020, driven by brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Sunglass Hut and Costa, but also by the EyeBuyDirect platform. While nearly 8 out of 10 Italians have visual problems, factors such as the aging population, time spent in front of screens and fashion effects, coupled with the explosion of online sales, make this distribution channel a particularly promising segment.
The Covid 19 crisis has also negatively impacted the optical sector, with losses estimated at around one billion euros. However, confinements have democratized remote working, which has increased screen time and thus increased average eye fatigue, mechanically pushing up sales of anti-blue light glasses and anti-fatigue lenses.
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