Consumers are now both savvy and sassy, especially when it comes to purchasing luxury items. In the eyewear industry, a business insider notes that these days, people are shopping for more sunnies and opticals, although in a conscientious manner.
“Customers are shopping more [nowadays] but they are investing on timeless and showcase worthy pieces,” says David Amar, COO of the retail chain Designer Eyes. “For example, a lot of people wanted limited edition Vintage Cazals after Will I Am was seen wearing them. The same goes for the vintage Ray Ban Ambermatic Aviators in Yellow that Johnny Depp wore. These frames retail for over $2,000, but they are collector’s pieces treated like art.”
As Amar puts it, perception plays a key role in courting customers to cash registers, which includes not only pop culture references, but also the craftsmanship involved in potential purchases.
To illustrate, Amar observes that people are now more appreciative of quality eyewear that take time to manufacture, like those made with titanium, horn, precious metals and even diamonds. “Eyewear made in Japan, for example, will take 9 months to make and consumers appreciate that. They want good quality products and [there’s that philosophy] that the longer [these products are made], the better the quality,” says Amar.
While keener on what luxury eyewear have to offer, consumers are also after an experiential and expertly curated experience when it comes to shopping for them, both in the settings of online and brick-and-mortar.
Just recently, Designer Eyes opened a flagship store in Manhattan’s Financial District, at the Westfield World Trade Center mall. More than offering eyewear selections from brands like Cartier and Dior, Amar says that this particular store reflects his and his team’s goal of providing a holistic shopping experience for their customers.
“Consumers are looking for value when they purchase something, and that can be through the product quality, price and/or experience,” says Amar. “Millennials specifically look for the perfect blend of those three.”
At the World Trade Center flagship store, Amar says that the goal is to have customers stay in as much as they can. When shopping for a pair of sunglasses or getting an optical prescription within 30 to 45 minutes, each customer is treated like royalty, starting with a complimentary flute of champagne or a cup of fresh coffee. Shoppers are then assisted by personal stylists, who can give expert eyewear advice depending on one’s lifestyle, with VIP programs that aim to briskly give customers their frames and offer them exclusive merchandise in the soonest time possible. Online shoppers also have access to Forbes-trained customer service representatives who are knowledgeable about every brand and product available.
“Time is of the essence here and consumers don’t want to wait 5 to 7 days to get their frames,” says Amar. “We believe that it’s a retailer’s responsibility to execute a proper shopping experience [for its consumers]. The luxury eyewear market has developed through the years because there’s a new brand that comes out every day, one that offers a new style for everyone.”
—Eugene Y. Santos