23% Looking for Prescription Shades

The appeal of sunglasses bridges gender and generational gaps, the NPD reports in "The Appeal of Sunglasses Bridges Gender and Generational Gaps, Reports NPD." Fashion attracts women and younger wearers; men and older wearers focus on function. The continued retail sales success of sunglasses demonstrates their ability to merge both fashion and function across multiple consumer segments.

According to global information company The NPD Group, the total U.S. sunglasses market grew 2% to $4 billion in the 12 months ending June 2015, following consistent gains for the past few years; men, women, millennials, and baby boomers are all fueling this growth.

  • Males ages 25–34: 14% share of sunglasses dollar sales growth
  • Males ages 45–54: 19%
  • Females ages 18–24: 13%
  • Females ages 25–34: 21%

The four demographic groups noted above account for two-​thirds of all sales gains in the sunglasses category during the 12 months ending June 2015. The strong performance among these segments is offsetting declines in others, namely males 35–44 and females 35–54.

‰ÛÏSunglasses continue to be a bright spot for the accessories market, offering something for practically everyone,‰Û said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. ‰ÛÏMale or female, the Millennial generation is increasing its spending faster than any other group, but as consumers age, style and feature preferences change ‰ÛÒ fashion-​focused sunglasses become less popular, while sporty, and basic/​classic options gain share.‰Û

Men currently account for slightly more than half of the dollar sales of sunglasses, but less than half of the pairs sold in the 12 months ending June 2015; men are spending more on their sunglasses, and that spending is increasing at a greater rate than women. Sales of men‰Ûªs fashion sunglasses are up by double digits, but sport sunglasses are most popular among men. They also tend to splurge on shades with special features, like polarization, scratch resistance, and spring hinges.

Women are more focused on fashion sunglasses, accounting for 56% of the $2.5 billion segment‰Ûªs dollar sales in the 12 months ending June 2015. The majority of mirrored sunglasses sold are men‰Ûªs, but they are increasingly being embraced as fashionable by women ‰ÛÒ women‰Ûªs spending on mirrored sunglasses has nearly doubled over the past year.

‰ÛÏWhile the younger consumer views sunglasses as a way to enhance their image, the Boomer looks at them as practical, but also a way to maintain their youth,‰Û added Cohen. ‰ÛÏThe industry is capturing the attention of male consumers with a variety of styles of sunglasses across generations, but appealing to female consumers is more challenging as they age.‰Û

When it comes to fashion, 23% of Americans intend to purchase sunglasses/​eyeglasses in the next 12 months for themselves or their families, according to AudienceSCAN research. Keep your warehouse eye services in mind too, because this audience is 48% more likely than average to be a warehouse/​discount shopping club member. In the past 30 days, 43.5% of sunglasses shoppers took action after receiving ads/​coupons in their mailboxes. In the past year, 64% took action after seeing TV spots.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.