Nowadays, cheap ray bans can be found selling for around $300 at high-end stores like Nordstrom (jwn, 1.34%) and Neiman Marcus. The company recently opened its first ever flagship store, a sleek emporium in the heart of Manhattan’s shopping mecca, SoHo. And in case 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 was in a shambles, with its once-pioneering wares available for sale for $19 at countless gasoline stations and convenience stores. As well as the quality was awful: Ray-Ban was using antiquated tooling and its particular frames were flimsy.
It had been at this 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 as a result of an aggressive turnaround plan, Ray-Ban staged a remarkable comeback, one that it is spending so much time to hold going. In 2000, Ray-Ban generated 252 million euros for Luxottica, or 10% of company sales. By 2014, that had risen over 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 biggest sunglasses brand, according to Euromonitor International data.
Before its decline, Ray-Ban had held a dominant spot in American popular culture, because of appearances in classic films from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Top Gun. But planning to boost sales, B&L transformed Ray-Ban into a mass-market brand.
Audrey Hepburn sporting Ray-Bans inside the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Photograph thanks to Paramount Pictures/Getty Images
In its ability to recover, Ray-Ban is probably the lucky ones. Few high-end brands that flirt with the low-end live to inform the tale, ?as other brands have realized when they’ve lowered prices in the bid to sign up with the “accessible luxury” market.? So the Ray-Ban case instructive for many labels looking to win back their aura..
Luxottica’s Chief Marketing Officer, Stefano Volpetti, recently spoke with Fortune about how the organization returned luster to the iconic brand name and what its doing to help keep the momentum going.
The Ray-Ban brand first emerged as a major player in eyewear in 1929 once the Air Force asked Bausch & Lomb to develop a brand new type of eyewear that could protect pilots’ eyes from glare without compromising how well they can see. In 1936, Ray-Ban sold the resulting glasses, Aviator-style shades, on the public initially, plus an American icon came into this world.
When Luxottica bought Ray-Ban, it says, the brand’s frames fell apart 4 times faster compared to those of Luxottica’s other brands. In 2000, Luxottica consolidated production of ray ban sale canada from four outdated facilities in various areas of the world to a state-of-the-art facility in Italy, where Luxottica manufactured other brands within its portfolio. Northeast Italy is known as a hub for premium eyewear, using the additional advantage of proximity to quality parts suppliers.
Convenience stores and service stations are certainly not the very best 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 within the belief that would pay back later. The organization was making eyewear for luxury names like Bulgari, Chanel and Armani, therefore it already had ins rich in-end stores. By 2004, Luxottica was able to leverage the improved standing of Ray-Ban to command higher prices again, selling the shades at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 2000, annually following the acquisition, the starting price for a set of Aviators was $79. Two years after that, that had risen to $89. And by 2009, as Ray-Ban started using newer materials like lightweight carbon fiber and a lot more sophisticated lens technology, the entry price had reached $129.”We required to clean the market of many bits 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 in the prescription-sunglasses area, brought Ray-Ban into its “optical” business 3 years later. Fast forward to 2015, and several 30% of Ray-Ban revenues are derived from prescription glasses, that happen to be generally pricier and much more profitable.
Ray-Ban also has 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% in the brand’s online revenues. This past year, Ray-Ban also started offering its shades in new and unusual forms, selling Wayfarers made of 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 vital to providing the types of experiences which will help Ray-Ban keep its market lead. The store will give you live performances, film screenings, art shows and exhibits that showcase the brand’s long history.
Volpetti says Luxottica is established to use the teachings in the last fifteen years to successfully enter China. (Ray-Ban remains an overwhelmingly European and North American brand.) And this dexjpky53 selectively choosing what stores will carry the sunglasses in China, deciding on better doors even when this means a slower entry. The marketing will emphasize Ray-Ban’s reputation of innovation and because the preferred sunglasses in the Hollywood set, something Volpetti says Chinese customers aren’t aware about yet.
Beyond China, the secret weapon to success for cheap ray ban sunglasses is to continue to tap what caused it to be a top-notch name for starters: good-looking shades that don’t try too hard being fashion-forward, while boasting the most up-to-date technical advances. Such advances include the use in its Liteforce collection of super light and resistant material of your kind aerospace companies use. Ray-Ban is additionally intending to launch its “Chromance” lens, that your company claims uses color enhancement technology so people can easily see colors and contrasts better.
“Provided that the emblem will continue to balance those two dimensions, technical innovation and counterculture stylishness, it’s likely to be fine,” says Joe Jackman, a retail industry consultant whose firm Jackman Reinvents concentrates on brand revitalization. (Ray-Ban is not really a Jackman client.) “The brand carries a clear and true DNA and also as long it keeps the balance they then will read as authentic.”