EssilorLuxottica reveals trends shaping luxury travel retail; shares 2024 plans

By Faye Bartle |

EssilorLuxottica in Cannes 2023

Gianmarco Montesano, Regional Director TRAP, EssilorLuxottica in Cannes, 2023.

A growing emphasis on sustainability, engaging customers through experiences and a ‘constant reach’ for new innovations are key trends predicted to shape the luxury travel retail industry over the coming years, according to EssilorLuxottica.

“In a competitive industry, it is crucial for brand-owners to stay up-to-date on the latest trends to maintain their edge,” said Gianmarco Montesano, Regional Director Travel Retail Asia Pacific, EssilorLuxottica, who met with TRBusiness on the company’s attention-grabbing stand at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes.

“Sustainability has become a prevailing trend in the travel retail sunglass category, with consumers increasingly seeking eco-friendly and ethically sourced eyewear options, driving the industry towards more sustainable practices and materials,” he said.

“The travelling customer values engaging experiences as much as the products they are buying, recognising that memorable interactions and immersive encounters not only enhance their shopping journey but also contribute significantly to the overall value they derive from a purchase.

He added: “Innovation stands as a burgeoning trend in the travel retail sunglass category, with manufacturers and retailers continually pushing boundaries to introduce cutting-edge designs, advanced lens technologies and sustainable materials, offering travellers unparalleled choices and enhancing their eyewear shopping experience.”

These leading trends are driving the strategies implemented by brands in the EssilorLuxottica portfolio.

Elements of this were reflected in the company’s stand in Cannes – a vibrant blend of luxury, tech and first-class entertainment, from the Smart Shopper technology to the Ray-Ban virtual Formula One driving experience.

EssilorLuxottica in Cannes 2023

The EssilorLuxottica stand in Cannes has a catwalk-inspired main entrance, reflecting the company’s ‘world of luxury eyewear’.

“We had a productive week of meetings with industry partners to drive conversations around how we can collectively elevate the eyewear category,” said Montesano.

“Innovation is at the heart of our discussions with retailers as we explore new opportunities to deliver exciting eyewear collections and activations for our travelling consumers.

“We didn’t want to simply tell people about what we represent – we wanted to show them.

“Our catwalk-inspired main entrance reflected the world of luxury eyewear that EssilorLuxottica represents. We spotlighted the launch of Swarovski eyewear in travel retail with a statement wall, unveiling an exquisite collection of stylish products. We also encouraged visitors to engage with our F1 simulator, further amplifying our dedication to delivering elevated experiences.”

EssilorLuxottica in Cannes 2023

The Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses collection offers the first-ever eyewear with live streaming and Meta AI built-in.

He continued: “And of course, the new Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses collection spotlighted in our booth with a dedicated space, speaks to how EssilorLuxottica is building the future of eyewear through constant innovation.

“The collection offers the first ever eyewear with live streaming and Meta AI built-in – available in the US only – a higher quality camera, and improved audio and microphone systems paired with a redesigned, more intuitive app and charging case.”

Giving consumers the luxury of choice

As mentioned above, visitors to the EssilorLuxottica stand in Cannes could also test out the Smart Shopper application.

This gives people the chance, via augmented reality technologies, to virtually try on any sunglasses model, in any variant (thanks to the proprietary technologies of ‘virtual mirroring’ in the tool).

It has already been launched in several countries worldwide, helping to create a more engaging and immersive shopping experiences for consumers.

On top of its roster of hi-tech enhancements, the company has welcomed a number of new brand licences to its portfolio this year, including Swarovski, Ferrari, and Brunello Cucinelli.

“Through an exclusive license agreement, EssilorLuxottica will have the privilege of designing, manufacturing, and globally distributing Swarovski Eyewear,” elaborated Montesano.

“The inaugural collection, set for release in September 2023, will embody the exquisite craftsmanship and innovation synonymous with Swarovski.

“Drawing inspiration from their renowned jewellery collections, these designs will elevate our luxury eyewear range to new heights.”

EssilorLuxottica in Cannes 2023

Swarovski is among the new brand licences in EssilorLuxottica’s portfolio.

Further to this, Brunello Cucinelli and EssilorLuxottica are building on their ongoing partnership by entering into an exclusive 10-year license agreement, with the first collection under the renewed understanding to be introduced to the market by EssilorLuxottica in early 2024.

“Additionally, we are delighted to announce the renewal and expansion of the partnership with Ferrari S.p.A.,” added Montesano. “EssilorLuxottica will continue to design, produce and market eyewear products featuring the Scuderia Ferrari and Ray-Ban brands.

“The licensing activities also extend to the first collection of monobrand eyewear featuring the Prancing Horse trademark.

“Moreover, our partnership with Scuderia Ferrari will expand further, with the Ray-Ban logo prominently featured on the exterior of Formula 1 cars and the apparel of official drivers in Competizioni GT.

“This includes their participation in the World Endurance Championship with the Le Mans Hypercar and a Gran Turismo championship with GT3 cars, exemplifying our shared pursuit of excellence in both style and performance.”

A notable hit this year has been the Ray-Ban Reverse Collection (featuring the brand’s first-ever inverted lens), which has sparked a global buzz (the collection was kick-started on the red-carpet at the Met Gala with musician Labrinth).

“We gave consumers something fresh and dynamic whilst still maintaining our iconicity and the global sales so far are confirming the positive launch,” said Montesano.

Seeing positive signs in Asia

As Montesano stressed, the Asian market is “always a key focus” for EssilorLuxottica and is set to play an important role in the future global development of the company.

“The APAC region offers huge opportunity for the sunglass category for many reasons, it is home to some of the most populous countries in the world, offering access to billions of potential customers,” he said.

“Additionally, APAC countries have experienced rapid economic growth in recent years, leading to the emergence of a growing middle class.

“With rising disposable incomes, people in this region are increasingly willing to spend on fashion and lifestyle products, including sunglasses.

“With a vibrant fashion scenes and a strong emphasis on personal style and trends, this fashion-conscious culture drives the demand for luxury fashion items.”

Of course, dynamics have shifted post-Covid and although average passenger spend of those in the region is now up on 2019, EssilorLuxottica continues to draw upon the lessons learned during the bounce back.

EssilorLuxottica in Cannes 2023

Left: Communicating the tailored features of EssilorLuxottica’s Asia Design collection. Right: The Smart Shopper application.

“In post pandemic times, the travel retail industry has a steady focus on how the travel markets are recovering globally,” said Montesano. “When we look at the revival of travel retail across the APAC region, we see positive signs.

“According to travel retail research experts m1nd-set, there was a remarkable year-on-year growth of nearly 340% in Asia Pacific air traffic in 2022. Shoppers are also demonstrating a significant increase in spending compared to 2021.

“The study indicates that the average spend per passenger among Asia Pacific duty free shoppers in 2022 showed a 5% increase compared to 2019, and a substantial 38% increase compared to 2021.

“The past few years have taught us the crucial value of flexibility. The worldwide travel shutdown compelled travel retail brands to explore alternative channels to connect with their customers, including the adoption of digital practices. These valuable lessons can now be carried forward to open new opportunities for engagement.”

Jimmy Choo collaboration to launch in 2024

There’s plenty more to come from EssilorLuxottica in the New Year, including an exclusive agreement with Jimmy Choo for the design, manufacture, and distribution of Jimmy Choo eyewear.

EssilorLuxottica in Cannes 2023

In 2024, EssilorLuxottica is focusing on enhancing communication around its luxury brands in travel retail.

“Consumers can expect to shop the first collection from Q1 2024 which will be developed under the leadership of Jimmy Choo Creative Director Sandra Choi to channel the glamorous style and playful spirit of the luxury brand,” said Montesano.

Additionally, EssilorLuxottica is focusing on enhancing communication around its luxury brands in travel retail, while aiming to create immersive experiences that “showcase the craftsmanship and innovation” behind each product.

“We will also be communicating about a number of recent new licenses that will be rolling out over the next few months in travel retail,” revealed Montesano.

“Partnerships stand at the forefront of EssilorLuxottica’s strategy, as they strive to be a pioneering collaborator driving innovation in design and technology, and redefining entertainment in the eyewear industry.”

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