Brand Authenticity in Eyewear
In an industry where brands try and "appear" to be authentic, Dom Vetro is pioneering a genuine and true approach to sourcing and selling its products. This is an interesting article on the state of affairs in eyewear brands today.
Luxottica Sees Itself As King, Raising Questions About Brand Authenticity
Today more than 80% of major eyewear brands, including the world’s No. 1 seller, Ray-Ban, are designed and retailed (over 7,000 stores US alone) by Luxottica, raising questions about brand authenticity, price and customer choice.
More than 500 million people don Luxottica’s products and CEO Andrea Guerra insists that “customers have the brand choice for their lifestyle,” and that it’s prevalent in their offering: “Luxottica has been able to deliver eyewear collections faster, enriched with more sophisticated decorations and innovative materials, to stores.” If you owned 80% of the high-end eyewear market and were doing what any CMO desires – achieving brand growth, relevance and revenue–you’d say that too, right?
That may be the “business” of brands, but if the product itself has had zero design input from the name on the frame, what of authenticity and brand promise? Recently the Economist quoted Rodney Collins, a director at advertising agency McCann, saying, “above all else brands must appear to be ‘authentic’ if they want to succeed.”
“Appear” is the crux of the issue: Authentic brands truly live and breathe their story; it’s reflected in their core purpose of who they are, what they stand for and why we believe. We trust their story because we experience it through the product and brand narrative. Many of us assume that it’s highly unlikely the name on the frame designed the product – teams of gifted designers design them, but Luxottica have their own designers translating their brand sense into successful eyewear designs.
Eyewear is a fashion purchase that doesn’t bust the bank. If consumers knew, however, would they feel that Luxottica had a monopoly? Their empire straddles house brands–Persol, Ray-Ban and Oakley–and licensed brands including Chanel, Prada and Versace. Given their premium pricing, are these brands presenting who they really are, what they really believe or stand for? If the customer identifies with a luxury lifestyle brand and connects with its values that guide her behaviors and standards, does that make it an authentic luxury brand?