Candid conversations between VCPN’s editors and leading optical executives about their product strategies.
Dee Berghuys, Director of Product Development and Marketing at Charmant USA, has held several brand management positions in the optical industry, including at Optyl/Carrera, Liberty Optical, and Charmant. She was promoted to her current position at Charmant in 2004 and is responsible for overseeing the development of products, licensing, and marketing for the company’s brands in the U.S. market. Here Dee talks about how Charmant reaches out to ECPs and different consumer markets.
BETH SCHLAU: One of Charmant’s core values is quality. How has the company maintained this tradition?
DEE BERGHUYS: We are careful to keep quality top of mind in all stages of our development process-from selecting the raw materials, to the equipment we use for manufacturing, to the techniques we’ve developed to produce our high-quality frames. All these components must meet our high-quality standards so that the end product is what we are known for-premium eyewear.
BETH: With such a broad range of brands, how does Charmant market itself to different demographics?
DEE: It is the wide variety of brands that allows us to address diverse markets. Each has its own wearer base, statement, and positioning.
For our licensed brands, PUMA, is a youthful sports-driven lifestyle brand, while Esprit is a youthful, but casual, brand. Each requires a different marketing approach through P-O-P, trade ads, and in-store promotions. For PUMA, because it is a sports lifestyle brand, we offer marketing materials that speak to the performance features of the sunwear. For ESPRIT, the P-O-P reflects the laid-back nature of the brand itself, and the overall look and feel of the styles.
It’s a similar story for our house brands. LineArt, for example, is a high-end titanium women’s collection while CFX is a quality, economical memory metal collection for men. LineArt is displayed on clear and white displays that speak to the jewelry-like nature of the collection and play on the lightweight wearing comfort that sets this exceptional line apart from all others. With CFX, we focus on educating the prescribers on the features and benefits so they can inform potential wearers about its uniqueness.
BETH: What is Charmant’s brand strategy?
DEE: It’s multi-layered. First, it is important for us to have a mix of house and license brands as we don’t want to focus too heavily on one aspect or the other. Then, within that mix, we want to be sure to offer brands that answer the needs of a variety of wearers. In addition, when looking at the license brands we want to partner with, it is very important to us that they match our attitude towards excellence.
BETH: How closely do you work with ECPs to promote your brands?
DEE: Very. Our sales force educates them on the features and benefits of our collections. We provide relevant information on key topics associated with our products. We also offer additional sales tools on targeted collections, like LineArt, where the brand story can make a large difference in the sell-through rate. Finally, we give our direct customers the opportunity to accrue and use co-op dollars to promote our brands in their offices.
BETH: Titanium has always been a strong material for Charmant. Do you foresee continuing to use it?
DEE: Absolutely, it is our heritage-and our future. Titanium offers a wide array of features and benefits to the wearers: lightweight feel, durability, anti-corrosion properties, hypoallergenic characteristics, and comfort.
We continually strive to offer new and exciting titanium eyewear. Our LineArt collection is made of our proprietary material “Excellence Titan,” a unique titanium blend that we spent eight years creating in conjunction with Tohoku University in Japan. Excellence Titan is lighter than regular titanium and offers memory function and high processability.
This year we introduced our first collection of titanium sunglasses: CHARMANT TITANIUM POLARIZED SUNGLASSES. The sunglasses offer all of the features and benefits of titanium, and are paired with a high-quality polarized Carl Zeiss lens. As our tagline states, it’s: EVERYTHING A SUNGLASS SHOULD BE.
BETH: Are there any plans to expand further into the sports sunwear business?
DEE: Our sports sunwear business is a focus for us within our PUMA collection. We offer ergonomic sunwear with non-slip temple grips, vented nosepads, shatterproof polycarbonate lenses, and other performance features designed for active wearers. This important aspect of the collection will continue to be critical for us in the future.
BETH: Are there any brand launches or other initiatives on the horizon?
DEE: We have a new collection in the works for 2015. It’s a project that we are very excited about. This initiative will take us in a different direction and expand our scope of product offerings.