Nowadays, cheap ray bans are available selling for as much as $300 at high-end stores like Nordstrom (jwn, 1.34%) and Neiman Marcus. The emblem recently opened its first ever flagship store, a sleek emporium inside the heart of Manhattan’s shopping mecca, SoHo. Of course, if you walk around capitals like London, Paris and Milan, it seems like anyone remotely stylish is sporting the shades.
Yet not that long ago, in 1999, the manufacturer is at a shambles, having 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 was 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 working hard to hold going. In 2000, Ray-Ban generated 252 million euros for Luxottica, or 10% of company sales. By 2014, who had risen over eightfold to 2.065 billion euros, or 27% of Luxottica sales. Ray-Bay now commands 5% from the global eye wear market, which is the greatest sunglasses brand, in accordance with Euromonitor International data.
Before its decline, Ray-Ban had held a dominant spot in American popular culture, due to appearances in classic films from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Top Gun. But seeking to boost sales, B&L transformed Ray-Ban right into a mass-market brand.
Audrey Hepburn sporting Ray-Bans from the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Photograph thanks to Paramount Pictures/Getty Images
In its capability to bounce back, Ray-Ban is among the lucky ones. Few high-end brands that flirt using the low-end live to tell the tale, ?as other brands have found when they’ve lowered prices in a bid to sign up with the “accessible luxury” market.? Hence the Ray-Ban case instructive for a lot of labels trying to win back their aura..
Luxottica’s Chief Marketing Officer, Stefano Volpetti, recently spoke with Fortune about how the business returned luster on the iconic logo and what its doing to keep the momentum going.
The Ray-Ban brand first emerged as a major player in eyewear in 1929 as soon as the Air Force asked Bausch & Lomb to develop a new form of eyewear that will protect pilots’ eyes from glare without compromising how good they might see. In 1936, Ray-Ban sold the resulting glasses, Aviator-style shades, to the public the very first time, and an American icon came to be.
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 manufacturing of ray ban 90 off from four outdated facilities in numerous areas around the globe to some state-of-the-art facility in Italy, where Luxottica manufactured other brands in the portfolio. Northeast Italy is regarded as a hub for premium eyewear, using the additional benefit of proximity to quality parts suppliers.
Convenience stores and gasoline stations will not be the ideal avenues for cultivating an upscale image. So Luxottica made the painful decision to exit 13,000 points of sale in the early 2000s, sacrificing revenue in the short term from the belief that might repay later. The corporation was making eyewear for luxury names like Bulgari, Chanel and Armani, so that it already had ins rich in-end stores. By 2004, Luxottica surely could leverage the improved trustworthiness of Ray-Ban to command higher prices again, selling the shades at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 2000, a year once the acquisition, the starting price for some Aviators was $79. A couple of years after that, who had risen to $89. And also 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 found it necessary to clean the industry of numerous pieces of low-quality, old Ray-Bans and cleanup the distribution,” says Volpetti.
In 2000, all 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 36 months later. Skip forward to 2015, and some 30% of Ray-Ban revenues result from prescription glasses, that are generally pricier and more profitable.
Ray-Ban also has moved into personalized products. In 2013, it launched Re-Mix, allowing customers the first time 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. Last year, Ray-Ban also started offering its shades in new and unusual forms, selling Wayfarers manufactured from leather, denim and velvet, among other materials.
The emblem opened its first flagship in November, a 5,000 square-foot store in Manhattan’s hip SoHo area, which is Luxottica says is vital to providing the types of experiences that will help Ray-Ban keep its market lead. The shop will offer live performances, film screenings, art shows and exhibits that showcase the brand’s long history.
Volpetti says Luxottica is decided to make use of the lessons of the last 15 years to successfully enter China. (Ray-Ban remains an overwhelmingly European and North American brand.) Which dexjpky53 selectively choosing what stores will carry the sunglasses in China, choosing better doors even when this means a slower entry. The marketing will emphasize Ray-Ban’s reputation of innovation and as the preferred sunglasses of the Hollywood set, something Volpetti says Chinese customers aren’t aware about yet.
Beyond China, the way to succeed for ray bans 90 off is to consistently tap what made it a top name for starters: good-looking shades that don’t try too difficult to be fashion-forward, while boasting the most recent technical advances. Such advances add the utilize in its Liteforce selection of super light and resistant material from the kind aerospace companies use. Ray-Ban is likewise about to launch its “Chromance” lens, that your company claims uses color enhancement technology so people can see colors and contrasts better.
“So long as the brand will continue to balance the 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 just not a Jackman client.) “The manufacturer carries a clear and true DNA so that as long it keeps the total amount they then will read as authentic.”