By Shashwat Kedia, Founder and CEO, Lensico
The global contact lenses market is speculated to reach USD 17.64 billion by the year 2020. Once an almost stagnant market, the eyewear segment in India has also evolved as one of the fastest growing retail sectors in the past decade. In 2018, the Indian eyewear market is estimated at around $28 billion. Moreover, the industry is expected to expand at a rapid pace in the next few years. Several factors have contributed to this unprecedented growth; the main one being eyewear becoming a must-have fashion statement.
While the eyewear market is still majorly dominated by spectacles, the sales of contact lenses have skyrocketed in recent times. Globally, the number of customers preferring contact lenses over spectacles is increasing each year.
From a business’s perspective, the consumer base of the contact lens market is primarily comprised of the teenagers and young adults. However, speciality and medically prescribed lenses are also gaining popularity among the older generation.
From the introduction of soft contact lenses to the market in the 70s to the latest coloured ones, the contact lens industry has come a long way. There are a plethora of contact lenses available today to suit every age, gender and lifestyle habits. Additionally, contact lenses are no longer considered as an accessory for the affluent as eyewear companies are coming up with cheaper options to serve everyone.
With growing urbanisation, there are now ample economic opportunities for Indians. A sharp increase in disposable income and high-paying jobs have enabled people to shell out a few extra bucks for contact lenses, which are no longer sold as a luxury item. Not just the crème of the society, the middle-class is also considered as the target customers for contact-lens makers.
Utilising this opportunity, large contact lens manufacturing companies are expanding their product range. Another recent trend is the expansion of the organised eyewear market, which is slowly engulfing the retail sector.
According to surveys, the organised eyewear market will be one of the most lucrative industries in near future. The growth of organised eyewear division is consequently pushing the sales of contact lenses in India and across the globe.
Technological innovations have undoubtedly played a huge factor in the rise of contact lenses. With biggies like Google and Samsung coming into the picture, smart contact lenses are expected to bring a paradigm shift to the eye care industry.
On the basis of the regions, the global contact lens market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East and Africa. While North America and Europe account for the lion’s share of the market, the Asia Pacific market is flourishing as well.
In fact, it is anticipated to grow at a higher CAGR rate between 2018 and 2026. In addition to rising demand, increased participation of region-specific small enterprises is believed to drive the expansion during the forecast period. When it comes to the Indian market, the contact lens segment should capture almost half the eye wear market in the coming years.
Branded retail growth, online retailing and emergence of small to mid companies, have contributed towards the market boom here. Besides from vision corrective lenses, the demand for coloured or cosmetic lenses has also increased. However, the market is still predominantly ruled over by major international brands. Indian eye wear companies have quite a long way to go before they catch up with the competition.
International or regional, it’s apparent that the contact lens market is exponentially growing due to factors such as easy availability, technological advancements and of course the rising demand amongst people. The trend has already begun and it will only be a matter of time before the spectacles market starts to lag behind.