Sticker shock: Why are glasses so expensive?

Sticker shock: Why are glasses so expensive?


Have you bought a pair of glasses lately bet your eyes popped when you saw the price tag. If you don’t go to places like Wal-Mart or Costco you could easily be spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a pair that costs 30 dollars 10 years ago. Talk about sticker shock. And it’s not as though things have changed that much they’re still made of a couple of pieces of plastic or wire some screws and glass. Why should a pair of glasses cost more than an iPad. Well one answer is because one company controls a big. Chunk of the business. Never has there been so much choice. Ray Bans. Oakleys. glasses for running and skiing. And even reading. A Staggering variety of colors and designers. You’d think the competition would force the prices down. Wow, look at that. One reason it hasn’t is a little known but very big Italian company called Luxottica. If you own a nice pair of specs or shades they’re probably theirs. Luxottica is the biggest eyewear company on earth. It shuns publicity. But CEO Andrea Guerra invited us in for a look. And it was eye opening. Do you have any idea how many people in the world are wearing your glasses right now? At least half a billion are wearing our glasses now. Luxottica started here as a small tool shop in Agordo. a dot of a town in the Italian Alps, When frames were still made of mountain goat horns. This was the factory in 1961, This is what it looks like today. Last year Luxottica made some 65 million pairs of sunglasses an optical frames. They don’t make prescription lenses. We saw mountains and mountains of glasses in boxes headed to China. India. Brazil. And above all to the US. But they’re very expensive. They can be. Very expensive. They can. But this is one of the very few objects that are 100% functional. 100% asthetical. And they need to fit your face for fifteen hours a day. Not easy and there’s a lot of work behind them. Luxottica’s product manager Isabella Sola. Explained that the company revolutionized. How we see glasses. You think I look cool. Yes I think so. I think I look cool too. It wasn’t that long ago that glasses were uncool. You only wore them if you absolutely had to. I can remember not that many years ago my mother telling me that men will never ask me out if I wear my glasses. I was to go blind. if wanted dates. But Luxottica took this medical device. And turned it into high fashion. By making deals to conceive and create high quality stylish specks for nearly every brand and label you can think of. We’ve Prada, We’ve Chanel, We’ve Dolce Gabbana we have Versache, We have Burberry, we have Ralph Lauren. We have Tiffany we have Bulgary. They’re not even called glasses any more, they’re Eyewear. Do people really wear this yet once glasses became face jewelry. Luxottica could charge a hefty markup. But you know something I know that that there are some. Less expensive glasses that look very similar to the very expensive. For example this is this is your Vogue line which is not that expensive, and this is Coach. Which is much more expensive. If two women walked down the street with these on. Yes they almost look the same, almost look that is almost. It’s not the same. Not the same because of details on the frames like a little Chanel C’s. Polo ponies. Or Tiffany blue. Luxottica wouldn’t tell us their marker with glasses like these can sell for up to 20x what they cost to make. And all the classes are designed by Luxottica. So you design thousands of pairs of glasses, That’s what we do, Yes, where does Tiffany come into it. Tiffany comes in at every stage basically. The fashion houses send in sketches of their new collections as inspiration. And down on the factory floor you can see the work that goes into differentiating the brands. Clean plastic temples go through painting machine and come out Versace. Stones are inserted one by one into the Dolce Gabbana. And leather is carefully threaded for that “Chanel bag” look. If People begin to know that Chanel glasses. Were designed by Luxottica. Would it change the way they think about Chanel glasses. You know that would be totally wrong. That would be crazy. But why isn’t the Luxottica name. A brand name are you in anyway hiding it. Hiding it? Yeah. Not at all we’re Listed on the New York Stock Exchange where Luxottica shares are soaring. The company raked in 8 billion dollars last year but their best seller wasn’t a fancy fashion house label. It was a brand they outright own Ray Ban. Originally made by Bosch and long for the US army since JFK nearly every president has worn them. Not to mention Tom Cruise in Risky Business . . And top gun. But the brand was poorly managed cheapened, and eventually put up for sale. The Italians bought it in 1999. And had a strategy to turn things around. We stopped selling sunglasses up from Ray Ban for more or less a year. When you bought it you could buy them for I don’t even know how little money , 29 dollars at the drugstore at a gas station. And you took them off the market. We refurbished everything. And made them upscale. Today those 29 dollar payers can cost a 150. And more. And Ray Ban is the top selling sunglass brand in the world. When Americans go to buy these glasses I’ll bet. 99%. Think they’re buying an American brand “It is an American brand what’s wrong with it.” I mean it’s an American brand owned by Italians. I think the world is this. It is the world and we don’t realize it that’s the thing. Before I started work on this story I’d never heard the Luxottica Yeah. Which is all the more surprising since Luxottica not only bought Ray Ban. They also bought LensCrafters. The largest eyewear retail chain in North America. So now they make em and they sell em. It’s great for business but is it great for the consumer. I asked LensCrafters president Mark Weical how many Luxottica. Brands do you sell here? We probably have a few bands that aren’t Luxottica. Mostly Luxottica, yeah. So since Luxottica owns you. Does the consumer get a break on glasses made by them and LensCrafters. What that customer gets at LensCrafters is a variety of services and products including this broad assortment. Frame, Mark you’re not answering my question I’m asking if if you charge less for frames made by Luxottica since you’re the same company. I think every competitor every retail optical brand determines what their price is. From whatever their brands are. That’s a No. Customers do not get a break at LensCrafters the average cost for a pair of frames and lenses is about 300 dollars. You may think well there’s choice in the mall for other glasses. But Luxottica doesn’t only own on the top eyewear chain in the country it owns another large chain Pearl Vision. And Oliver Peoples and several boutique chains. And it runs Target Optical. And Sears Optical. We’re not done Luxottica also owns Sunglass Hut the largest sunglass chain in the world. So is there a free market in eyewear? No, I don’t think there really is. I think one company has. Excessive dominance the market. Smart money.com columnist Bret Arens says “the appearance of variety is an optical illusion”. The reality is it’s like you know it’s like pro wrestling competition in its actually fake competition. Consider what happened to Oakley. The world famous maker of the advanced sports Eyewear. Oakley was a big competitor and they had a fight with Luxottica And Luxottica basically said we’re dropping you from our stores. And they refused to sell their glasses. It was a dispute about pricing. And they dropped Oakley from the stores and Oakley stock price collapsed. How is Oakley going to reach the consumer if they can’t get their sunglasses. In Sunglass Hut?. There were some issues between the two companies. In at the beginning of the 2000s. But both of them understood that it was better to go along. Better to let you buy them. I wouldn’t say this. We marriaged with Oakley in 2007. Bought Oakley. They tried to compete and they lost and then you bought them. I understand your theory but they understood that life was back to together. So now Luxottica owns the two top premiums on last brands in the world Ray Ban and Oakley. But Luxottica points out there are other players. Whose your biggest competitor in the United States. You could say Wal-Mart. Also Costco. And emerging online companies like Warby Parker. But other competitors told us Luxottica has them in a chokehold. If you make glasses you wanna be and their stores. And if they have stores you wanna sell Ray Bans. So Luxottica can set the prices as high as it wants. Luxottica is . what’s called a price maker. Which means essentially you can set prices and other people will follow in its wake. Which he says is why glasses in general costs so much even at your local opticians. The whole point of a luxury brand is to persuade people to pay. 200 dollars for a product that cost 30 dollars to make. But let me show you something. Why why is it any different than my shoe. Well to some extent There’s actually a lot of comparisons. The difference is that the entire shoe industry isn’t made by one company and the same company doesn’t own all the shoe stores. You’d think well surely insurance companies covering vision would complain. But guess what it Luxottica also owns the nation’s second largest vision care plan IMed. Covering eye exams and glasses. What don’t you own? A lot of things. Not really Why not combine everything under one name? A lot of things — not really — you seem to really why not combine everything under one name? I think people love diversity. People love to have different brands. People love to have different experiences. It’s an illusion of choice. If you’re all along by the same company. I think this is totally wrong. The question is what kind of choice consumer has. It’s not the question of how many you own. How does the consumer benefit from all of this? Your prices are still high. If you go to a shoe company would just say that their prices are high? You’re trying to tell me it’s worth all that money. Everything it’s worth what people are ready to pay. And you know what? He’s right. It seems people are ready to pay a lot. I bet they cost a fortune. They’re not too expensive. They cost almost 400 dollars. With prescription lenses the price could jump to 600. Or more.

100 thoughts on “Sticker shock: Why are glasses so expensive?

  1. Luxottica's CEO said, they understood that "life was better together "… LOL ..this guy … trying so hard from bursting out laughing.

  2. Guys STOP BUYING ANYTHING LUXOTICA and that will make it. Do you really need so many glasses? I decided to stop buying glasses, it is truly wicked. Mafia finds the way to rip you of your money.

  3. I remember years ago finding this out, and I support the awesome direct to consumer online companies that make great stuff, just on their own. EyeBuyDirect for glasses (~$60-75) and Jade Black for sunglasses ($50) by the awesome YouTuber Jose Zuniga who runs TeachingMensFashion

  4. PLEASE READ- IF YOU WANT OAKLEYS -BUY CHINA BRAND FOAKLEYS! LoL They look 👀 identically to Oakley EVEN THE LOGO!!! LoL 😆 ONLY $15 bucks compared to OAKLEYS $250

  5. This story was accurate in 2012. Now it's 2019 and Amazon, and Costco and Warby Parker and others are disrupting this putative monopoly. I have not bought any Luxottica glasses in many years.

  6. This is why I got Lasik. It was a one-time cost of $5000. The eyeglass companies were knocking me dead for years and I got sick of it.

  7. Everyone commenting some bs not realizing this video is from 2012 and half of what they say here is outdated and doesnt even matter anymore.

  8. So fashion makes them stupid expensive and let's be honest it can't be that hard to design glasses, people myself included are daft.

  9. Basically support companies like Warby Parker, which is a private owned company and runs a "buy one and donate one" for each of their glasses, yes, per glasses you buy, another one gets donated to those who need. And honestly probably the only one strongest competitor for a monopolizing company as Luxottica in the modern times.

  10. Her attitude is aggressive for absolutely no reason? Yes, Luxottica designs the frames for the brands but when most of your customers only want the brand to flash that they have money as opposed to knowing the deep history and meaning behind the designs, you'll adapt your business model to that. The analogy about shoe stores was intriguing as people are prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on shoes every few months but can't spend money on a pair of glasses every 2 years (average recommendation for an eye exam). Luxottica is a highly successful and ultra powerful company, yes but it is still your liberty and free will to spend $500 on a pair of glasses when there will still be a range in the $20-$100 bracket. You can either buy your sneakers from Target or from Gucci.. that is your own choice.

  11. My glasses say "Made In China" so I don't think Luxxottica made them LOL.
    This mobster price monopoly sure does give a lot of incentive to buy Chinese copies.
    I do own Bimini Bay glasses made for fisherman and those are Fantastico!

  12. I work in optics in the UK, yes the materials to make spectacles are relatively cheap, what you the consumer dont know is the cost of the machinery that makes those spectacles. Then stores have to pay for opticians, dispensing opticians, retail staff, laboratory staff, rent, electricity, ophthalmic equipment, maintenance etc, that runs into hundreds of thousands a year. That service cannot be provided by selling specs for £20.

  13. i just bought an oakley to replace one i jut lost and it's disappointing to know everything comes from the same company, same place.

  14. you should see me stacking 5 luxury label sunglasses for a total of $120 in China at the wholesale market just for fun

    I even got the guarantee and the club member card for the lv's, along with og boxes and branded shopping bags

    the lv's in particular cost 180 yuan which is some 20 dollars I think (lazy to check)

    they're identical, down to every last detail, I went and visited the websites of these companies (gentle monster, lv, dior, gucci) and zoomed in on each of the models for comparison

    they even feel sturdy

    so my advice is, if you want fancy eyewear, instead of paying $1000 for 2 pairs, pay $1000 for a two way ticket to china AND a lifetime supply of iconic eyewear for you and everyone you want to surprise haha

  15. I have had many expensive sunglasses in my life, but I always somehow one or another way loose them eventually…so I don't believe spending a lot for sunglasses.

  16. It's only gotten better, they recently merged with Essilor, and now are in with one of the largest lens manufacturers. Ahhh thank goodness for the wonderful independent brands out there like Etnia Barcelona and real hand crafted luxury frames that can still cost 400-600, but are worthy of the price in the build and finish quality.

  17. What Sage didn't mentonet is of course is call ** monopoly ** but Monopoly but with many different names which create allusion

  18. I worked for a eyeglass frame distributer in new york once. They were all purchased in bulk from china. On average my boss would pay about $5-$20 for a pair. Then sell it to the eyeglass store for $30-$80 a pair. Then they would sell it to you for $140-$400.

  19. I can accept paying $150 for Ray Bans. I cannot accept paying +$400 for a pair of designer (ie. Versace) sunglasses when the materials and detail is the same, but the logo is the only difference. Totally absurd. But the guy has power, and people have money.

  20. $300 for a pair of glasses, I should start buying my stuff there, we pay like $200 while the insurance pays for like $400-$600

  21. I never understood why people would want something with someones elses Name – and/or buy products that advertise for Free their product and Pay more to do so.. fking crazy, but each to their own

  22. I live in central america. Since our countries have their own private glass-making shops, we can afford prescription glasses for just $50 (like mine). But, most commonly, people buy the $200 rayban frames plus $30 prescription lenses. Is incredible how expensive are they on north america :O

  23. Luxottica is basically looting common man by making glasses very costly.

    Don't worry dude if Giant Nokia can fall you also will..

  24. I don't know I refuse to pay more then a few dollars for sunglasses as there's no difference and they get lost and broken in same amount of time. So why bother paying a lot for something that won't even last long

  25. The Luxottica chick definitely needs a new pair , Those frames look way to small and almost crooked on her ! What the fk ? And that hair style … Let me stop . lol

  26. So, in a nutshell, Luxwhateveraca used its marketplace monopoly to ruin Oakley and then buy them up. His demeanor reminds me of the villain in Demolition Man. "you're like an evil Mr. Rogers" -Wesley Snipes.

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