The quality of lenses is generally a more important factor than their price or brand for consumers in the five major European countries, according to the eighth edition of the Optical Monitor (OMO).

Once again commissioned from GfK by the Mido and Silmo trade shows, the survey was based on online interviews conducted in July with 6,034 consumers in the five countries to better understand their shopping behavior and identify the latest trends in the market. It was presented at the Silmo show in Paris in late September.

For optical glasses, lens quality got the highest rating from 85 percent of consumers in France, followed by product price, frame weight, advice from a store's staff and elegant look or design. A competitive price was more important for French consumers than the quality of the lenses, followed by an elegant design and a cool look.

In Italy, lens quality came out on top for both frames and sunglasses. For the frame, weight came next, followed by price, material and the elegant look, which has become a more important criterion than ever before. The material and the elegant look gained importance in Italy also for sunglasses, but these two criteria came after lens quality and price.

The recommendations of a sales staff are becoming more important in Spain in the choice of an optical frame, but this came after lens quality, price and weight considerations. The look is becoming less important for Spanish customers in the choice of a frame. It's becoming more relevant in choosing a pair of sunglasses, but here also, the quality of the lenses and the price come first.

The U.K. and Germany are the only markets where the quality of sun lenses is not the most important “purchase driver” for sunglasses, according to the GfK study. With a rating of 66 percent, this factor ranks in the U.K. just behind the price and the brand name, which are both at a level of 68 percent. Lens quality is the main driver in the U.K. when it comes to optical glasses, with a rating of 82 percent, followed by the weight of the frame and the price, which has become more important than before. For both types of products, the sales staff's recommendations have grown in importance as compared with a year earlier.

In Germany, lens quality has a rating of 82 percent for optical glasses, followed by the price, the weight of the frame and the advice of the store staff, but here also, price considerations are weighing in more than before. When it comes to sunglasses, the price gets a rating of 66 percent, followed by lens quality at 59 percent and a “cool look” at 57 percent.

In contrast with the U.K., the brand is one of the least important factors of choice in Germany, where its rating has declined to 24 percent for sunglasses and risen only slightly to 31 percent for optical glasses.

The brand is very important in Italy, where it has risen to a rating of 60 percent for both optical glasses and sunglasses. In France, the brand name has a high rating of 45 percent for sunglasses and a declining rating of 28 percent for optical glasses. In Spain, the brand is a factor of choice for 48 percent of sunglass customers, but its rating is down to 31 percent when it comes to optical glasses.

The “made in” label is losing importance for optical frames in all of the five countries except Italy, where it still gets a rating of 57 percent, followed by 32 percent for Spain and 31 percent for France.

For sunglasses, the label of origin is important for 51 percent of Italian and French customers alike, although the rating in both countries is down from 57 percent a year ago. In Spain, it stands at only 34 percent. The rating has declined to 20 percent in Germany, but it is still high in the U.K. at a level of 48 percent.

The latest OMO study also showed the ongoing importance of the physical store and its window as a primary source of information for consumer choices. This and other findings will be outlined in the next issue of our business newsletter.