Do You Ever Wonder Why Glasses Are So Expensive?

Have you gone shopping for glasses recently? Have you looked at the prices? While shopping for new frames this summer,¬†I couldn’t help but notice the insanely high sticker price on almost every pair¬†of glasses¬†I picked up. It didn’t matter what brand I looked at or what shop¬†I went to. It was all the same. “Why are these pieces of plastic and wire so expensive?” I asked myself.

What I discovered after doing some research completely blew my mind.

Stop and think about this. Why should a simple pair of glasses cost more than an iPad, a Kindle, or a Chromebook? Why do we pay so much money for the same glasses that were priced significantly lower just 20-30 years ago?

I think the answer is incredible.

Logically, you¬†would think the vast competition between different designers and brands would drive the price of glasses down. One¬†reason that¬†hasn’t happened¬†is because of a¬†huge¬†and mostly-unrecognized¬†Italian brand called Luxottica.

 

If you own a nice pair of glasses, they are probably theirs. In fact, more than half a billion people are wearing Luxottica’s glasses right now.

Luxottica revolutionized how we¬†‘see’ glasses. Not too long ago, glasses were perceived as uncool. It was Luxottica who made wearing glasses fashionable by partnering themselves¬†with well-known brands like Prada, Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co., and Bvlgary. They even started calling glasses “eyewear” to change the perception.

(Licensed Brands [Excludes in-house Brands])
Once glasses became more like¬†jewelry,¬†Luxottica could charge whatever they wanted. Their¬†CEO tried to justify¬†the¬†high prices by describing their glasses as, “100% functional. 100% aesthetical.”¬†While¬†Luxottica does¬†not reveal their¬†markup, we know their glasses sell for up to 20 times more than the¬†price of manufacturing.

If you knew your Burberry glasses were actually designed by¬†Luxottica would that change the way you look at¬†them? Luxottica does not use their name on any of their glasses even though they design them all! When Luxottica’s CEO was asked¬†if they are¬†trying to hide the company’s name, he responded, “Hiding it? No, not at all! We’re listed.”

Yes. Listed on the New York Stock Exchange where Luxottica shares are soaring.

(Source: www.marketdailynews.com)

The company brought in over 8 billion dollars in 2011 and has done better and¬†better since then. Their biggest money-maker isn’t even one of the fashion-labels I mentioned before! It’s a brand they outright own: Ray-Ban!¬†Luxottica bought Ray-Ban in 1999 and took their glasses off the market for about a¬†year. Before the buyout, a pair of Ray-Bans sold for maybe $20.00. After reducing their supply and making¬†them “upscale,” a¬†pair of Ray-Bans¬†can now sell for¬†$150.00 or more!

Most consumers believe¬†when they buy a pair of Ray-Bans that they are buying an American brand. But is it? Luxottica says, “It is an American brand. It’s an American brand owned¬†by Italians.”

How “genuine” is it?

In the early 2000s, there was a dispute between¬†Luxottica and Oakley- another big¬†brand. When the two companies could not reach an agreement on pricing,¬†Luxottica stopped carrying Oakley glasses in their stores. Unable to reach the consumer, Oakley’s stock crashed and¬†Luxottica bought them in 2007. “Life is better together,” Luxottica explained.

This means Luxottica now owns the top two premium sunglass brands in the world: Ray-Ban and Oakley.

Luxottica also owns¬†LensCrafters: the largest eyewear retail chain in North America. So now they¬†can make them AND sell them! Oh and don’t think this means the consumer gets a discount for buying¬†Luxottica-made glasses at¬†Luxottica-owned stores. There’s essentially no competition because Luxottica also own Pearl Vision, Oliver Peoples, Target Optical, Sears Optical, and Sunglass Hut: the largest sunglass chain in the world.

If you’re wondering why insurance companies covering vision don’t complain about this, it’s because Luxottica owns them too! They own the Eye-Med: the nations second largest vision care plan.

 

The appearance of variety in the eyeglass market is a complete illusion.

Am I the only person who is shocked by this information? I had¬†NEVER heard of Luxottica until I found all of¬†this information after buying my new pair of “Versace” glasses. It’s a monopoly I had no idea about. I personally feel like it’s so sneaky and deceiving to make it “appear” like¬†consumers have¬†all of these choices and options when it’s really all coming from ONE¬†company. It’s concerning to think about how much power they have.

How do you feel about this?

8 Comments

  1. Craig Golbach

    WOW! Just . . . w-o-w! This absolutely blows my mind. Having you put this all together, now, makes absolutely perfect sense to me. I still have to compose myself in order to say much more about this. Wow!

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