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Topic: Wear Glasses? The industry is interesting:  (Read 95 times) previous topic - next topic

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Wear Glasses? The industry is interesting:
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/may/10/the-invisible-power-of-big-glasses-eyewear-industry-essilor-luxottica
Quote
But what we see masks the underlying structure of the global eyewear business. Over the last generation, just two companies have risen above all the rest to dominate the industry. The lenses in my glasses - and yours too, most likely - are made by Essilor, a French multinational that controls almost half of the world's prescription lens business and has acquired more than 250 other companies in the past 20 years.

There is a good chance, meanwhile, that your frames are made by Luxottica, an Italian company with an unparalleled combination of factories, designer labels and retail outlets. Luxottica pioneered the use of luxury brands in the optical business, and one of the many powerful functions of names such as Ray-Ban (which is owned by Luxottica) or Vogue (which is owned by Luxottica) or Prada (whose glasses are made by Luxottica) or Oliver Peoples (which is owned by Luxottica) or high-street outlets such as LensCrafters, the largest optical retailer in the US (which is owned by Luxottica), or John Lewis Opticians in the UK (which is run by Luxottica), or Sunglass Hut (which is owned by Luxottica) is to make the marketplace feel more varied than it actually is.

Between them, Essilor and Luxottica play a central, intimate role in the lives of a remarkable number of people. Around 1.4 billion of us rely on their products to drive to work, read on the beach, follow the whiteboard in biology lessons, type text messages to our grandchildren, land aircraft, watch old movies, write dissertations and glance across restaurants, hoping to look slightly more intelligent and interesting than we actually are. Last year, the two companies had a combined customer base that is somewhere between Apple's and Facebook's, but with none of the hassle and scrutiny of being as well known.

Now they are becoming one. On 1 March, regulators in the EU and the US gave permission for the world's largest optical companies to form a single corporation, which will be known as EssilorLuxottica. The new firm will not technically be a monopoly: Essilor currently has around 45% of the prescription lenses market, and Luxottica 25% of the frames. But in seven centuries of spectacles, there has never been anything like it. The new entity will be worth around $50bn (£37bn), sell close to a billion pairs of lenses and frames every year, and have a workforce of more than 140,000 people. EssilorLuxottica intends to dominate what its executives call "the visual experience" for decades to come.

The creation of EssilorLuxottica is a big deal. It will have knock-on consequences for opticians and eyewear manufacturers from Hong Kong to Peru. But it is also a response to an unprecedented moment in the story of human vision - namely, the accelerating degradation of our eyes. For several thousand years, human beings have lived in more or less advanced societies, reading, writing and doing business with one another, mostly without the aid of glasses. But that is coming to an end. No one is exactly sure what it is about early 21st-century urban living - the time we spend indoors, the screens, the colour spectrum in LED lighting, or the needs of ageing populations - but the net result is that across the world, we are becoming a species wearing lenses. The need varies depending where you go, because different populations have different genetic predispositions to poor eyesight, but it is there, and growing, and probably greater than you think. In Nigeria, around 90 million people, or half the population, are now thought to need corrective eyewear.

There are actually two things going on. The first is a largely unreported global epidemic of myopia, or shortsightedness, which has doubled among young people within a single generation. For a long time, scientists thought myopia was primarily determined by our genes. But about 10 years ago, it became clear that the way children were growing up was harming their eyesight, too. The effect is starkest in east Asia, where myopia has always been more common, but the rate of increase has been uniform, more or less, across the world. In the 1950s, between 10% and 20% of Chinese people were shortsighted. Now, among teenagers and young adults, the proportion is more like 90%. In Seoul, 95% of 19-year-old men are myopic, many of them severely, and at risk of blindness later in life.

At the same time, across the developing world, a slower and more complex process is underway, as populations age and urbanise and move indoors to work. The history of eyewear tells us that people do not, as a rule, start wearing glasses because they notice everything has gone a little out of focus. It is in order to take part in new forms of entertainment and labour. The mass market in spectacles did not emerge when they were invented, in 13th-century Italy, but 200 years later, alongside the printed word in Germany, because people wanted to read.

In 2018, an estimated 2.5 billion people, mostly in India, Africa and China, are thought to need spectacles, but have no means to have their eyes tested or to buy them. "The visual divide", as NGOs call it, is one of those vast global shortcomings that suddenly makes sense when you think about it. Across the developing world, straightforward myopia and presbyopia, the medical name for longsightedness, have been linked with everything from high road deaths to low educational achievement and poor productivity in factories. Eye-health campaigners call it the largest untreated disability in the world.

It is also a staggering business opportunity. Essilor and Luxottica know this. It was Essilor that worked out and first publicised the 2.5 billion statistic, in 2012. "For 2,000 years people were living mainly outside," said Hubert Sagnières, Essilor's chairman and chief executive, when we met recently in Paris. "Suddenly, we live inside, and we use this." He tapped his mobile phone on the table. The legal and technical details of the EssilorLuxottica merger will take a few years to iron out, but Sagnières was transparent about its mission: to equip the planet with eyewear over the coming decades. "I am driving a very profitable company," Sagnières told me. "You know, between 2020 and 2050, governments will not solve all the problems of the world."

The looming power of EssilorLuxottica is the subject of morbid obsession within the eyewear world. Everyone knows the new company is poised to have a profound impact on the way that we are going to see. "Forgive me," said one longtime entrepreneur in the sector. "But it is nothing short of control of the industry." One investor described the new corporation as a "category killer". In many conversations, people described its arrival, which would have been genuinely unthinkable a generation ago, as both extraordinary and somehow inevitable at the same time. That struck me as the kind of contradiction you come across more often in a person than in a business. And it is true of EssilorLuxottica and, to some extent, the business of vision itself, because it is - to an amazing degree - the legacy of a single man.
continued at link. Fascinating article and really good writing
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

Re: Wear Glasses? The industry is interesting:
Reply #1
pity reply?

Re: Wear Glasses? The industry is interesting:
Reply #2
I see you're reading Marx, yet you're wearing glasses made by capitalism?

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Re: Wear Glasses? The industry is interesting:
Reply #3
Quote
But for centuries after their invention, spectacles and other magnifying lenses were mostly rejected by medical men, who warned of their unnaturalness and recommended potions to correct people's eyesight instead. In The Perfect Oculist, of 1666, Robert Turner, a London doctor, recommended turtle's blood and the powdered head of a bat for the treatment of squints. For weak eyesight, you might try wearing cow's eyes around your neck.
"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man."
― Mark Twain 🔭

Re: Wear Glasses? The industry is interesting:
Reply #4
Everyone knows you just need some eagle sperm to rub in your eyes