Raising the glasses bar

Almost eighteen months ago, I blogged about the trouble faced by Australian optometry chain OPSM (and their Italian parent Luxottica) from the challenge of low-cost newcomers such as Specsavers.

It would seem we’re finally seeing the strategic response of OPSM, a new, innovative store concept launched this week:

“The OPSM Eye Hub, which opened yesterday, is designed in the shape of a retina, and offers next best thing to augmented reality – a simulation machine so people can road test their choice in eyewear in action such as jogging, along with playback mirrors so people can view videos of themselves sporting glasses while not staring forward”

You can read more of the spiel at their dedicated website. This is a classic differentiation ploy, as the firm attempts to make customers willing to pay a premium for bells and whistles.

As spectacles (and sunglasses) are clearly fashion items, it certainly makes sense to try and build a brand and experience that moves away from solely price considerations.  Utilising technology and store architecture are both viable ways to create a clear point of difference from others.  Destination stores (e.g. Apple’s temples) and retail theatre may well be the next phase in once staid optometry market.

From an International Business perspective, it is fascinating to see that Luxottica is allowing subsidiaries to experiment in this manner. Might this be an innovation that gets rolled out around the international network in the future (a la McDonald’s roll out of the Melbourne-initiated McCafe concept)?

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