Nowadays, cheap ray bans can be obtained selling for up to $300 at high-end stores like Nordstrom (jwn, 1.34%) and Neiman Marcus. The brand recently opened its first ever flagship store, a sleek emporium in the heart of Manhattan’s shopping mecca, SoHo. And if you walk around capitals like London, Paris and Milan, it appears as if anyone remotely stylish is sporting the shades.
But not that long ago, in 1999, the emblem is at a shambles, using its once-pioneering wares for sale for $19 at countless gasoline stations and convenience stores. As well as the quality was awful: Ray-Ban was using antiquated tooling as well as its frames were flimsy.
It absolutely was at that rock-bottom point that Italian eyewear giant Luxottica bought Bausch & Lomb’s eyewear brands, with Ray-Ban because the deal’s crown jewel, for $640 million in 1999. And because of an aggressive turnaround plan, Ray-Ban staged a remarkable comeback, one that it must be making an effort to maintain going. In 2000, Ray-Ban generated 252 million euros for Luxottica, or 10% of company sales. By 2014, which had risen more than eightfold to 2.065 billion euros, or 27% of Luxottica sales. Ray-Bay now commands 5% in the global eye wear market, which is the largest sunglasses brand, based on Euromonitor International data.
Before its decline, Ray-Ban had held a dominant spot in American popular culture, as a result of appearances in classic films from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Top Gun. But trying to boost sales, B&L transformed Ray-Ban in a mass-market brand.
Audrey Hepburn sporting Ray-Bans within the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Photograph courtesy of Paramount Pictures/Getty Images
In being able to recover, Ray-Ban is among the lucky ones. Few high-end brands that flirt with the low-end live to tell the tale, ?as other brands have discovered when they’ve lowered prices in the bid to participate the “accessible luxury” market.? Hence the Ray-Ban case instructive for a lot of labels seeking to win back their aura..
Luxottica’s Chief Marketing Officer, Stefano Volpetti, recently spoke with Fortune about how precisely the company returned luster towards the iconic brand name and what its doing to maintain the momentum going.
The Ray-Ban brand first emerged being a major player in eyewear in 1929 as soon as the Air Force asked Bausch & Lomb to develop a whole new kind of eyewear that might protect pilots’ eyes from glare without compromising how good they might see. In 1936, Ray-Ban sold the resulting glasses, Aviator-style shades, towards the public the very first time, plus an American icon was born.
When Luxottica bought Ray-Ban, it says, the brand’s frames fell apart 4 times faster than others of Luxottica’s other brands. In 2000, Luxottica consolidated production of ray ban 90 off from four outdated facilities in different areas of the world to a cutting edge facility in Italy, where Luxottica manufactured other brands in their portfolio. Northeast Italy is known as a hub for premium eyewear, with the additional benefit of proximity to quality parts suppliers.
Convenience stores and service stations will not be the most effective avenues for cultivating an upscale image. So Luxottica made the painful decision to exit 13,000 points of sale during the early 2000s, sacrificing revenue in the short term from the belief that might pay back later. The business was making eyewear for luxury names like Bulgari, Chanel and Armani, thus it already had ins rich in-end stores. By 2004, Luxottica was able to leverage the improved reputation of Ray-Ban to command higher prices again, selling the shades at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 2000, per year right after the acquisition, the starting price for a set of Aviators was $79. 2 years afterward, that had risen to $89. And by 2009, as Ray-Ban started using newer materials like lightweight carbon fiber and much more sophisticated lens technology, the entry price had reached $129.”We found it necessary to clean the market of several pieces of low-quality, old Ray-Bans and cleanup the distribution,” says Volpetti.
In 2000, each one of Ray-Ban sales were for non-prescription sunglasses. Luxottica, tapping its core strength inside the prescription-sunglasses area, brought Ray-Ban into its “optical” business 3 years later. Fast forward to 2015, and some 30% of Ray-Ban revenues are derived from prescription glasses, that happen to be generally pricier and a lot more profitable.
Ray-Ban has additionally moved into personalized products. In 2013, it launched Re-Mix, allowing customers initially to customize their glasses themselves by mixing different frames, materials and designs in 220,000 different possible permutations. Re-Mix now generates 40% from the brand’s online revenues. This past year, Ray-Ban also started offering its shades in new and unusual forms, selling Wayfarers created from leather, denim and velvet, among other materials.
The brand opened its first flagship in November, a 5,000 square-foot store in Manhattan’s hip SoHo area, that is Luxottica says is key to providing the types of experiences which will help Ray-Ban keep its market lead. A store will provide live performances, film screenings, art shows and exhibits that showcase the brand’s long history.
Volpetti says Luxottica is decided to utilize the teachings of your last 20 years to ensure that you enter China. (Ray-Ban remains an overwhelmingly European and North American brand.) Which dexjpky53 selectively choosing what stores will carry the sunglasses in China, picking better doors even if this means a slower entry. The marketing will emphasize Ray-Ban’s past of innovation and because the preferred sunglasses from the Hollywood set, something Volpetti says Chinese customers aren’t mindful of yet.
Beyond China, the way to succeed for cheap ray ban sunglasses is to still tap what managed to get a top name for starters: good-looking shades that don’t try way too hard to get fashion-forward, while boasting the most up-to-date technical advances. Such advances are the utilize in its Liteforce selection of super light and resistant material in the kind aerospace companies use. Ray-Ban is additionally planning to launch its “Chromance” lens, that the company claims uses color enhancement technology so people can easily see colors and contrasts better.
“As long as the brand is constantly balance the two dimensions, technical innovation and counterculture stylishness, it’s gonna be fine,” says Joe Jackman, a retail industry consultant whose firm Jackman Reinvents targets brand revitalization. (Ray-Ban is not a Jackman client.) “The manufacturer carries a clear and true DNA so when long it keeps the balance chances are they will read as authentic.”