Nowadays, cheap ray bans is available selling for around $300 at high-end stores like Nordstrom (jwn, 1.34%) and Neiman Marcus. The manufacturer recently opened its first ever flagship store, a sleek emporium inside the heart of Manhattan’s shopping mecca, SoHo. And in case you walk around capitals like London, Paris and Milan, it feels like anyone remotely stylish is sporting the shades.
Yet not that long ago, in 1999, the manufacturer is in a shambles, with its once-pioneering wares on sale for $19 at countless gas stations and convenience stores. Along with the quality was awful: Ray-Ban was using antiquated tooling and its particular frames were flimsy.
It was actually at that rock-bottom point that Italian eyewear giant Luxottica bought Bausch & Lomb’s eyewear brands, with Ray-Ban since 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 making an effort to help keep going. In 2000, Ray-Ban generated 252 million euros for Luxottica, or 10% of company sales. By 2014, that had risen greater than eightfold to 2.065 billion euros, or 27% of Luxottica sales. Ray-Bay now commands 5% in the global eye wear market, and it is the most important 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 trying to boost sales, B&L transformed Ray-Ban in to a mass-market brand.
Audrey Hepburn sporting Ray-Bans inside the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Photograph courtesy of Paramount Pictures/Getty Images
In its ability to recover, Ray-Ban is probably the lucky ones. Few high-end brands that flirt together with the low-end live to share with the tale, ?as other brands are finding when they’ve lowered prices within a bid to sign up with the “accessible luxury” market.? And so the Ray-Ban case instructive for several labels planning to get back their aura..
Luxottica’s Chief Marketing Officer, Stefano Volpetti, recently spoke with Fortune regarding how the organization returned luster for the iconic brand and what its doing to maintain the momentum going.
The Ray-Ban brand first emerged like a major player in eyewear in 1929 as soon as the Air Force asked Bausch & Lomb to formulate a new type of eyewear that could 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, plus an American icon came to be.
When Luxottica bought Ray-Ban, it says, the brand’s frames fell apart four times faster than others of Luxottica’s other brands. In 2000, Luxottica consolidated manufacturing of ray ban sale canada from four outdated facilities in several areas around the globe to your advanced facility in Italy, where Luxottica manufactured other brands in its portfolio. Northeast Italy is known as a hub for premium eyewear, with the additional advantage of proximity to quality parts suppliers.
Convenience stores and gas stations will not be the very best avenues for cultivating an upscale image. So Luxottica made the painful decision to exit 13,000 points of sale in early 2000s, sacrificing revenue for the short term in the belief that would pay off later. The company was making eyewear for luxury names like Bulgari, Chanel and Armani, thus it already had ins with high-end stores. By 2004, Luxottica managed to leverage the improved reputation of Ray-Ban to command higher prices again, selling the shades at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 2000, per year after the acquisition, the starting price for a couple of Aviators was $79. 2 yrs next, that had risen to $89. And also by 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 needed to clean the market of several bits of low-quality, old Ray-Bans and clear 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 three years later. Fast forward to 2015, plus some 30% of Ray-Ban revenues come from prescription glasses, which are generally pricier and a lot more profitable.
Ray-Ban has also 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% of the brand’s online revenues. Just last year, Ray-Ban also started offering its shades in new and unusual forms, selling Wayfarers created 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, that is Luxottica says is essential to providing the kinds of experiences that can help Ray-Ban keep its market lead. The store will offer live performances, film screenings, art shows and exhibits that showcase the brand’s long history.
Volpetti says Luxottica is determined to make use of the lessons in the last fifteen years to actually enter China. (Ray-Ban remains an overwhelmingly European and North American brand.) Which dexjpky53 selectively choosing what stores will carry the sunglasses in China, picking better doors even when this means a slower entry. The marketing will emphasize Ray-Ban’s background of innovation and as the preferred sunglasses in the Hollywood set, something Volpetti says Chinese customers aren’t mindful of yet.
Beyond China, the secret weapon to success for ray bans 90 off may be to still tap what managed to get a top-notch name to begin with: good-looking shades that don’t try too hard to be fashion-forward, while boasting the latest technical advances. Such advances include the use in its Liteforce collection of super light and resistant material in the kind aerospace companies use. Ray-Ban is additionally planning to launch its “Chromance” lens, in which the company claims uses color enhancement technology so people are able to see colors and contrasts better.
“Provided that the brand continues to balance those two dimensions, technical innovation and counterculture stylishness, it’s likely to be fine,” says Joe Jackman, a retail industry consultant whose firm Jackman Reinvents targets brand revitalization. (Ray-Ban is not really a Jackman client.) “The company has a clear and true DNA and as long it keeps the total amount they will read as authentic.”