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Optical Goods Retailing - UK - February 2016

“Concentration of the retail sector has continued. The big three opticians, Specsavers, Boots and Vision Express, have all gained market share, thanks to the expansion of their chains. Attention grabbing deals remain the cornerstone of promotional strategy, but we are seeing more brand building by the chains in order to reduce the focus on discounting. New competition from John Lewis (in conjunction with Luxottica) and Superdrug and growth of optical chains at Asda and Tesco will intensify competition even further and inevitably the losers will be independents, who continue to see market share being steadily chipped away.”
– Jane Westgarth, Senior Market Analyst

This report answers the following questions:

  • Can opticians find new ways to grow?
  • What are the prospects for internet retailing in eyewear?
  • Is there a future for independents?

The optical retail sector is concentrated into the hands of three large chains, Specsavers, Boots and Vision Express. Specsavers focuses on value, Boots positions itself as a health-led retailer and Vision Express is positioned as a quality optician with good healthcare. Independent opticians are gradually losing market share and many regional chains including Conlons and Rayners have been taken over by the multiples. Asda and Tesco have been improving market share helped by expansion of their in-house chains. These supermarket opticians are positioned at the low end of the price spectrum. Online selling has not made significant inroads in this marketplace but is becoming more established in contact lenses than in prescription spectacles.

This report covers core goods and services sold through opticians, including:

  • Eye tests
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Spectacle frames and lenses (we use the term glasses and spectacles interchangeably)
  • Contact lenses (including aftercare)
  • Contact lens solutions through opticians, chemists and other outlets.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this report
        • Excluded
        • Executive Summary

            • Growth of 16.4% expected by 2020
              • Figure 1: Consumer spend on optical goods and services, 2010-20
            • Market for sunglasses to grow by 16% from 2015-20
              • Figure 2: Consumer spend on non-prescription sunglasses, 2010-20
            • Spectacles dominate spending
              • Figure 3: Consumer spend on optical goods and services, by category, 2014-15
            • Market factors
              • Figure 4: Changing age structure of the population, 2010-15
            • Companies, brands and innovation
              • Figure 5: Distribution of optical goods by retailer, 2015 (est)
            • Brand map illustrates customer attitudes to opticians
              • Figure 6: Attitudes towards and usage of selected brands, November 2015
            • The consumer
              • Figure 7: Wearers of eyewear, November 2015
            • Purchases of fashion eyewear
              • Figure 8: Fashion eyewear purchased in the last twelve months, November 2015
            • Glasses dominate the market place
              • Figure 9: Prescription eyewear purchased in the last 12 months, November 2015
            • Specsavers is the most-used optician
              • Figure 10: Retailers used for last prescription eyewear purchase, November 2015
            • People value professional fitting at an optician
              • Figure 11: Attitudes about optical goods and eye examinations, any agree, November 2015
            • High level of interest in added-value eyewear
              • Figure 12: Interest in added value and innovation, November 2015
              • Figure 13: Customer typologies for opticians, November 2015
            • What we think
            • Issues and Insights

              • Can opticians find new ways to grow?
                • The facts
                  • The implications
                    • What are the prospects for internet retailing in eyewear?
                      • The facts
                        • The implications
                          • Is there a future for independents?
                            • The facts
                              • The implications
                              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                • Consumers spend £2,975 million on optical goods and eyecare
                                  • Population growth will increase demand
                                    • Market for sunglasses continues to grow
                                      • Innovation has helped to add value
                                        • Older customers will create more demand for services
                                          • More 25-34s boost demand for contact lenses
                                            • Improved consumer confidence
                                              • Market share gains
                                              • Market Size and Forecast

                                                • Growth of 16.6% from 2015-20
                                                  • Figure 14: Consumer spend on optical goods and services, 2010-20
                                                  • Figure 15: Consumer spend on optical goods and services, 2010-20
                                                  • Figure 16: Consumer spend on non-prescription sunglasses, 2010-20
                                                  • Figure 17: Consumer spend on non-prescription sunglasses, 2010-20
                                                  • Figure 18: Consumer spend on non-prescription sunglasses, 2011-15
                                                • Market segmentation
                                                  • Figure 19: Consumer spending on optical goods and eyecare, by segment, 2010-15
                                                • Sunglasses show steady growth
                                                  • Figure 20: Consumer spend on non-prescription sunglasses, 2011-15
                                                • Laser vision correction
                                                • Market Drivers

                                                  • Growth of 55+ age group - 20.8 million by 2020
                                                    • Growing demand for eye examinations
                                                      • 9.9% more children aged 5-14 by 2020
                                                        • 9.4 million 25-34s by 2020
                                                          • Figure 21: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, 2010-20
                                                        • Greater consumer confidence
                                                          • Figure 22: Trends in current financial situation compared to a year ago, measured at November, 2011-15
                                                        • High proportion of the population uses screens
                                                          • Figure 23: Personal ownership of consumer technology products, September 2015
                                                        • Sunshine helps sales of sunglasses
                                                          • Figure 24: Sunshine hours, UK annual, 2011-15
                                                      • Channels of Distribution

                                                        • Unusual retail sector dominated by specialists
                                                          • Boots and Vision Express gaining ground
                                                            • Optical Express is concentrating on laser
                                                              • Supermarkets on the rise
                                                                • Figure 25: Distribution of optical goods by retailer, 2014 and 2015 (est)
                                                            • Key Retailers – What You Need to Know

                                                              • Limited potential for more Specsavers stores in the UK
                                                                • Boots growing once again
                                                                  • Vision Express acquisitions boost store numbers
                                                                    • Clear differentiation for the big chains
                                                                      • Joint venture partnerships
                                                                        • Online sellers
                                                                          • Supermarket expansion
                                                                            • Independents in long-term decline
                                                                            • Key Retailers – Competitive Strategies

                                                                              • Sales growth of optical chains
                                                                                • Figure 26: Turnover (excluding vat), selected optical goods retailers, 2011-15
                                                                              • Expansion of the chains
                                                                                • Figure 27: Opticians multiples, outlet numbers, 2013-15
                                                                              • Creating differentiation
                                                                                • Figure 28: Market positioning strategies, major opticians, 2016
                                                                              • Business models
                                                                                • Franchises, joint venture and non-core products
                                                                                  • Alternative places to buy optical goods
                                                                                    • Online selling
                                                                                      • The march of the supermarkets
                                                                                        • 4,500 independents
                                                                                          • John Lewis opening in-store opticians
                                                                                          • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                                            • Advertising spend up 45% 2012-15
                                                                                              • Figure 29: Above-the-line advertising expenditure on optical goods and eyecare, by company, 2012-15
                                                                                            • Specsavers dominates advertising spend
                                                                                              • Figure 30: Above-the-line advertising expenditure on optical goods and eyecare, by company, 2015
                                                                                              • Figure 31: Above-the-line advertising expenditure on optical goods and eyecare, by company, 2012-15
                                                                                            • A note on adspend
                                                                                            • Brand Research – Optical Goods and Sunglasses

                                                                                                • What you need to know
                                                                                                  • Specsavers and Boots ahead on trust
                                                                                                    • Vision Express is upscale
                                                                                                      • Over-55s want accessible and trustworthy opticians
                                                                                                        • Tesco and Asda are value but basic
                                                                                                          • Brand map
                                                                                                            • Figure 32: Attitudes towards and usage of selected brands, November 2015
                                                                                                          • Key brand metrics
                                                                                                            • Figure 33: Key metrics for selected opticians brands, November 2015
                                                                                                          • Brand attitudes: Vision Express and Boots positioned as reputable with great service, while Specsavers is innovative
                                                                                                            • Figure 34: Attitudes, by brand, November 2015
                                                                                                          • Brand personality: Specsavers is vibrant and fun, Boots engaging and Vision Express exclusive
                                                                                                            • Figure 35: Brand personality – Macro image, November 2015
                                                                                                          • Specsavers is trendsetting and stylish, Boots reliable and authoritative, but Vision Express overrated and expensive. Asda is basic and disappointing.
                                                                                                            • Figure 36: Brand personality – Micro image, November 2015
                                                                                                          • Brand analysis
                                                                                                            • Specsavers’ upbeat image, style and fun personality along with trust and value attract a wide range of customers
                                                                                                              • Figure 37: User profile of Specsavers, November 2015
                                                                                                            • Boots Opticians is reputable, trusted and has good service
                                                                                                              • Figure 38: User profile of Boots Opticians, November 2015
                                                                                                            • Asda’s image is the weakest, although Asda chimes with 16-24s who see it as fun
                                                                                                              • Figure 39: User profile of Asda Opticians, November 2015
                                                                                                            • Tesco Opticians gains from being accessible
                                                                                                              • Figure 40: User profile of Tesco Opticians, November 2015
                                                                                                            • Vision Express is exclusive and accessible, yet considered expensive and overrated
                                                                                                              • Figure 41: User profile of Vision Express, November 2015
                                                                                                            • Brand analysis
                                                                                                            • Key Suppliers – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                              • Multinational companies dominate supplies
                                                                                                                • Luxottica is the fastest growing supplier
                                                                                                                  • Fabris Lane is the leading mid-market supplier of sunglasses
                                                                                                                    • Innovative products could change the market
                                                                                                                    • Key Suppliers to Opticians

                                                                                                                      • Future disruption for spectacle suppliers?
                                                                                                                        • Sourcing shifting from China
                                                                                                                          • Smart glasses
                                                                                                                            • Leading spectacle frame suppliers
                                                                                                                              • Specialist spectacle lens suppliers
                                                                                                                                • Suppliers of contact lenses and contact lens solutions
                                                                                                                                • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                  • 3D printing could revolutionise the market
                                                                                                                                    • Online sales expected to grow
                                                                                                                                      • Superdrug enters the online market
                                                                                                                                        • Self-testing instead of an opticians visit
                                                                                                                                          • Smart glasses with prescription lenses
                                                                                                                                            • Bespoke could lead to eyewear wardrobes
                                                                                                                                              • Screening school children
                                                                                                                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                • Older and wealthier more likely to have eye exams
                                                                                                                                                  • Glasses are the most-used eyewear
                                                                                                                                                    • Fashion sunglasses most-bought by under 44s
                                                                                                                                                      • Specsavers has the broadest appeal
                                                                                                                                                        • Ageing customer base for indies
                                                                                                                                                          • Combination of expertise and style
                                                                                                                                                            • High Street Devotees want better functionality
                                                                                                                                                              • Style Seekers will respond to innovative products
                                                                                                                                                                • Thrifty shoppers motivated by making savings
                                                                                                                                                                  • Demanding loyalists favour independents
                                                                                                                                                                  • Eye Examinations in the Last Year

                                                                                                                                                                    • 58% had an eye test in the last year
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 42: Eye examinations in the last 12 months, November 2014 and November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                    • Older people more likely to have had an eye test
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 43: Eye examinations in the last 12 months, by age and socio-economic group, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                    • Better off people more inclined to have eye tests
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 44: Eye examinations in the last 12 months, by financial situation, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                  • Wearers of Eyewear

                                                                                                                                                                    • Two thirds wear glasses
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 45: Wearers of eyewear, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                    • More use of glasses as people age
                                                                                                                                                                      • Young profile for contact lens wearers
                                                                                                                                                                        • Ask suitable lifestyle questions
                                                                                                                                                                          • Multifocal lenses for complex prescriptions
                                                                                                                                                                            • Building a contact lens business
                                                                                                                                                                              • Add-on sales potential for eye drops
                                                                                                                                                                                • Sunglasses, a useful add-on
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Non-prescription sunglasses have a younger bias
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Wearers of eyewear by age and socio-economic group, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                • Eyewear Purchases – Fashion Eyewear

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Fashion eyewear purchased in the last twelve months, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                • Eyewear Purchases – Prescription Eyewear

                                                                                                                                                                                  • High replacement rate for glasses
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Low cost of ready-readers
                                                                                                                                                                                      • How opticians hang onto contact lens customers
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 48: Prescription eyewear purchased in the last 12 months, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Retailers Used for Last Prescription Eyewear Purchase

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Vision Express appeals to ABs
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Specsavers had broad appeal
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Boots slightly older and a little upscale
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Ageing customer base for independents
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Internet picks up 5% of shoppers
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 49: Retailers used for last prescription eyewear purchase, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 50: Source of purchase of optical goods, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Attitudes towards Optical Goods and Eye Examinations

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 51: Attitudes about optical goods and eye examinations, any agree, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Interest in Added Value and Innovation

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 52: Interest in added value and innovation, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Consumer Typology Groups

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 53: Customer typologies for opticians, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                              • High Street Devotees (26%)
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 54: Attitudes towards opticians, High Street Devotees, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 55: Attitudes towards innovation, High Street Devotees, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Style Seekers (27%)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 56: Attitudes towards opticians, Style Seekers, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 57: Attitudes towards innovation, Style Seekers, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Thrifty Shoppers (23%)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 58: Attitudes towards opticians, Thrifty Shoppers, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 59: Attitudes towards innovation, Thrifty Shoppers, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Demanding Loyalists (24%)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 60: Attitudes towards opticians, Demanding Loyalists, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 61: Attitudes towards innovation, Demanding Loyalists, November 2015
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Market sizing and segment performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                                                                      To learn more about the companies covered in this report please contact us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Optical Goods Retailing - UK - February 2016

                                                                                                                                                                                                      £1,995.00 (Excl.Tax)