Brrr! It was chilly in New York but there was nothing chilly about Vision Expo East 2013. It was so active you couldn’t be cold and there were hot hot parties, plenty of warming trends and friends! Here are some quick highlights:
Cathy and I started Thursday with The Vision Council Stats meeting and Marketing Power Hour. We were happy to hear from Steve Kodey that 2012 eyewear sales were strong. Sales are back to pre-recession levels, up over 6% year over year and 1.7% over 2007 (pre-recession year). The repurchase cycle is now 2.2 years, not as frequent as we would like to see it but better than the 2.5 years during the recession. However, consumer confidence has gone down in the early part of 2013 vs 2012 so the experts are not expecting as much growth in 2013 as 2012. That means we have to stay on our marketing toes!
Online sales are up of course with 2.9% of Rx eyeglass sales online in 2012 but a lot of online activity eyewear is window shopping and looking for information.
The Social Media speaker, Dean Browell was excellent. The key point I took away from him was to remember that Social Media is the consumer using the internet so it is most important to consider consumers’ behavior as it relates to business. You can’t do all of it so listen and learn first then focus on what is the most viable.
- Eyewear retro classic shape is being redefined by using more color
- Lots of color in general e.g. metallic neon orange frames and color blocking e.g. turquoise/lime red/orange
- Lots of flat matte metal, both men and women’s
- Wood is a huge trend
- Key hole bridge
- Big cat eyes
- More interesting designs e.g. lots of swirls etchings temple details
Lenses, Lens Materials and Designs
- At the Stats meeting we learned that Free form lenses now account for 23% of total progressives sold and AR 29% of all lenses.
- Lots of new lens materials and lens designs were in evidence on the show floor including: Shamir’s Autograph III, Vision-Ease Lens Anthology series Novel and Novella which use advanced conventional progressive lens technology, and Kodak Lens Unique DS.
- PPG introduced Tribrid which is a hybrid of Trivex and Hi Index material and ideal for extreme Rx’s as it is light, strong and thin. The ABBE value is 41 (very clear) and density 1.23 (very light). It is easy to edge and requires no special wheels, perfect for drill mount frames.
- Adlens’ booth was very active, a lot of people were sampling the John Lennon by Adlens, we did too! We tried the adjustment and it was remarkably effective. The fluid injection technology allows the power of each lens to be adjusted with the turn of a dial. Once set, the system can be sealed and the dials removed. I also tried the more temporary Emergensee lunettes shown here.
The measurement of frames and lenses for custom fitting has come a long way with the new technology that combines the ease of using a tablet such as an iPad and custom apps/software to take accurate measurements of not just fitting height and PD but also panoramic angle, pantascopic tilt, vertex distance, head rotation and more. I saw an impressive demo of A.I.T.’s VisuReal Portable and Shamir will soon be introducing SPARK which has 14 different touch points. The Hoya booth was doing non-stop demos of Hoya Spectangle!
- Optical Equipment vendors were very busy. With the advance of lenses and materials it is important to keep up with the rest of the process in order to provide complete premium eyewear, digital blocking for lens edging for example taking account of the frame curve and angle.
- There are more “in office” lens production choices e.g. QSpex Premium Lens System.
- Fast Grind is introducing a table top size new coating system which makes choice of lens materials broader for ECP who wants to produce complete jobs in office without sacrificing quality and/or profitability. We saw a demo and it took less than a minute to coat a polycarbonate lens!
The category for sports performance is definitely growing, we saw a lot more RX product in this category from several vendors including Wiley X with a new rim system to expand the Rx range and Costa who are pioneering cross promotion for this category. We think that Rx Sport Performance is a hot growing category that the ECP can really get involved in more by teaming up with the vendors and local sports stores.