How Smaller Companies Are Competing with Eyewear Giants

Olympic Eyewear is a Utah company that designs and sells fashion sunglasses at wholesale prices. They sell to retailers all around the country who, in turn, sell those products at retail in pharmacies, convenience stores, and even small boutiques. The thing is that Olympic Eyewear does not have the size or market power of a Luxottica. So how do they compete?

The idea of competition has always been part of the capitalist system. Long before Luxottica existed, there were tons of smaller eyewear companies competing for their piece of the market pie. Many of them have since gone by the wayside. Others, like Olympic Eyewear, continue on in the face of stiff competition from a limited number of industry giants. And they are doing it successfully.

1. Competing on Price

The biggest thing that smaller companies have going for them is a willingness among their larger competitors to charge what seem like excessively high prices – just because they can. For example, it is not unheard of for a Luxottica brand to charge hundreds of dollars for a standard pair of wayfarers. People are willing to pay that much because they want the brand attached to those sunglasses.

A company like Olympic Eyewear can sell a comparable pair of sunglasses, also in the wayfarer style, for a fraction of what the Luxottica brand charges. They can do so because they are not trying to support a luxury brand which is really nothing more than a name anyway.

The goal of the smaller companies is to make their money on volume. They keep their prices low enough to move a tremendous amount of product, electing to make less per piece but more by selling in larger volumes. It is a workable strategy that is keeping a number of smaller companies in business.

2. Competing on Quality

When you break down sunglasses to their base components, you are left with only a few things. You have plastic or metal frames, lenses, and the screws and hinges that hold everything together. The interesting thing about it is that there is very little difference in terms of plastic frames made via injection molding. The plastic is more or less the same across all brands.

The quality in sunglasses is really a matter of how well the pieces are designed and put together. Smaller companies have no problem matching the quality of more expensive brands, with the exception of those luxury manufacturers that do everything by hand. But smaller companies are not competing with those kinds of manufacturers anyway.

3. Speaking to Their Audience

Finally, smaller eyewear companies are competing by taking their products directly to their target audience. The most successful among them are not afraid to admit they are targeting middle-class families who do not want to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of sunglasses. They don’t mind that their sunglasses are sold in corner drugstores instead of higher-priced mall stores.

They are not afraid to talk about sunglasses being dropped in the water or left in the car glove compartment where they will be scratched by a spare screwdriver and a tire gauge. They speak to their audience where the audience is at, without any illusions of grandeur.

Look, there is plenty of room for companies like Olympic and Luxottica alike. That’s the beauty of the eyewear industry. As big and powerful as the giants are, they still only control about half the market. The other half is owned by smaller companies who just keep plugging along and quietly competing. Consumers are the beneficiaries of varying price points and plenty of style choices.