A NEW ERA IN EYEWEAR

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Synonymous with independent eyewear, house brands are uniquely developed and free of licenses and corporate influence.

We’re living in a less brand-dominated world. There’s a retail revolution in action where new brands arise, and the less popular ones fall to their demise overnight. There will always be a presence of core brands that have a history of producing for the masses. You will find these in every major city in shopping hot spots. However, there’s a retail player in town known as the “house brand” or “independent brand.”

All of sudden you wake up and there’s a spotlight new brand with internet influencers broadcasting its arrival. It’s trendy, it’s quality, and it allows individuals to show off fresh new style that’s exclusive. It used to take a full-scale team to develop, market and maintain a brand’s presence. Today, the eyewear market is evolving in a way that allows the hippest brands to evolve overnight. The concept of house brand frames is alive and well.

STANDING OUT IN A SEA OF FRAMES
Making our board space “pop” is harder than ever today. The variety of quality frames and designs is extraordinary. The eyewear field is becoming saturated and highly differentiated, causing retailers to become savvy about choosing which vendors they align with as business partners.

Patients expect to see new merchandise at each visit. Introducing house brand frames into an eyewear gallery sets the scene that an optical is at the forefront of fashion and trends. With correct signage and merchandising, you can create a ripple in a sea of frames, calling attention to your customers a brand is worthy of exploring. It’s important to establish house brands as a new “brand” by correctly inventorying a prominent number of pieces to establish its presence. A sea is a large territory, and your house brands should be too. Don’t just sprinkle them in.

THE EQUATION: COST, DESIGN, QUALITY, VALUE
Any time a retailer or wholesaler is looking for revenue opportunities, this equation should be explored. The equation when solved correctly can lead to greater consumer satisfaction.

COST: A collection of house brand frames should allow manufacturers and retailers greater purchasing power as costs of goods become less. This is a big bonus as the savings from not purchasing expensive licensing fees can be used to focus the extra savings on intricate design and quality elements.

DESIGN: Creative freedoms become abundant in house brand frames. Rather than following a set of brand guidelines that may have existed for decades, designers can source inspiration from within themselves or current fashion to create eyewear that speaks to the target demographic.

QUALITY: This is where house brands shine. Producing frames more efficiently and with lower overhead allows for cost shifting. This means a greater portion of a budget can be used to focus where it matters for the person actually wearing the frame. Examples of better quality elements of house brand frames could include: higher luster acetates, proprietary hinges or subtle brand details on the temple tips.

VALUE: Creating the concept of value in something that is not familiar to consumers is tough. Without brand recognition, a house brand has no merit. Fortunately, value can be created when enthusiasm is transferred from optician to patient through storytelling. By telling the story of a house brand from inception of brand, cost, design and quality, you can relay the message of value. Always try to focus on a proposition of more for the same or more for more value. There’s no end to the low end.

HOUSE BRANDS ARE REAL
Consumers are starting to accept that little brands are more intimate and exciting than traditional legacy brands. If you look at the Instagram frenzy right now, brands are popping up overnight and gaining serious traction in the crowded retail space. It’s no surprise brands can gain thousands of followers after a brand launch. Exclusivity is becoming much more popular than familiarity. People want to be asked, “What are you wearing?” House brands will continue to dominate the retail revolution as social media organically elevates these brands to higher levels. n
Optician Perry Brill is with Brill Eye Center in Mission, KS.

SHOULD I BE SELLING PRIVATE LABEL?
Private label is nothing new. Go to any grocery store and see their brand name slapped on a box of cereal or potato chips. It’s not quite that name brand taste, but it’s good enough for the price. Branding a local optical’s name on frames gives it scale and legitimacy. People are proud to represent local brands they adore. It’s a new phenomenon in retail.3 REASONS FOR PRIVATE LABEL
1. Create walking advertisements for your practice
There’s no better advertising than a personal referral. It’s genuine, and people love sharing their wardrobe secrets. These are your net promoters, and they refer patients to you because they want to and not for a reward.

2. Level the playing field
Private label can lower your costs of goods by 50% to 90%. This allows eyecare professionals flexibility in pricing. The online market will increase in market share in the next decade. Be prepared with a plan, rather than surviving off becoming a coupon business to drive sales. Remember, your eyewear costs should have no relation to what consumers should be charged. Set pricing based on value and not mathematical industry trend markups.

3. Not found online
We hear the horror stories of people snapping photos of frames and purchasing in front of us. Prevent this consumer behavior by offering a superior design and quality product without the internet footraces.

HOW DO I START PRODUCING MY OWN FRAMES?
You can either buy “ready stock” eyewear or start designing your own simply by selecting shape and material combinations from factories. Don’t be intimidated. A quality factory will guide you through the decision-making process. The factory wants repeat business, and you want to sell frames to satisfy the three reasons for private label. Ready stock is perfect if you just want to select pre-produced styles and have your name put on them. This method has a low barrier to entry and cost. Designing your own is more involved and necessitates minimum order quantities, usually 100 to 300 pieces per model. This method is for those thinking more long-term about establishing a true brand for years to come. The profit margins will be so great you will make a return on investment in no time. What are you waiting for? Go explore factories in Italy, Japan, China and Korea!

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