The release of the second edition of Mido Outlook, an international survey of the players of the eyewear industry, indicates that exports continue to be a key factor for the industry, for both Italian and foreign companies, with the U.S. emerging as the most attractive market and Italy also in the top spots in terms of attractiveness. The eyewear industry is still characterized by a large presence of small and medium-sized firms, with two-thirds of the companies employing fewer than 20 people. More surprisingly, the top positions in the industry appear to be increasingly held by a younger generation of leaders.

The Mido Outlook aims to identify the level of confidence among industry professionals in the prospects for the sector as well as their main expectations for the next three years. The latest survey was conducted in September by GRS Ricerca e Strategia for Anfao, the Italian eyewear industry association, among more than 1,500 players of the industry, from both Italy and abroad, operating in different segments including retail, wholesale, manufacturing and services. The questions in the survey covered issues such as turnover trends, exports, development potential, product development and changes in sales channels.

Regarding the level of confidence, 45.9 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with the current situation while 44.6 percent said they were cautious, showing an even split in the sample. The most optimistic forecasts were found among players operating in manufacturing and services. From a geographical point of view, the most optimistic expectations came from the Pacific area, while African operators had the most negative outlook, with Europeans somewhere in between. One-third of the respondents expect growth up to 25 percent over the next three years.

Exports remain a key element, with 40 percent of manufacturers generating about half of their revenues abroad. The main markets are Europe, especially Western Europe, as well as North America and Asia. The U.S. is the main market, followed by France and Germany. More importantly, the U.S. has emerged from this second survey as the most attractive market, taking over that spot from China, which topped the preferences in the first survey. Italy has also emerged as an attractive country for exports, taking the third spot after the U.S. and China.

Physical stores are still the leading sales channel for the industry, but e-commerce is expected to take the lead in the coming years. Regarding the different communication channels, trade shows, websites and social networks continue to be the main sources of information for the professionals in the industry, with trade shows and web portals on the rise. Facebook continues to lead among the social media, although figures for the tech giant from Menlo Park are declining compared with the first Mido Outlook, whereas Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are on the rise. Among the different product segments, professionals expect IT systems, contact lenses and ophthalmic lenses to show a rise in turnover, while sunglasses continue to raise concern, similar to what had emerged from the first survey.

The next survey for a new edition of the Mido Outlook is scheduled for the first half of 2019.