The eyewear market is expected to see growth in 2025 despite the unpredictability of resources during inflation. Much of the falloff in 2024 comes from the global economic downturn affecting all industries, with global GDP growth slowing to 2.6%.

Despite these numbers teetering dangerously close to recession levels, major eyewear brands and related trades continue to invest in the industry in response to growing demand. Sunglasses sales are even leading, with five years of growth across multiple markets. In North America, the leading regional market for eyewear, sales exceeded $50 billion in 2023. Asia Pacific is expected to come very close to this figure by 2025.

Data suggests that overgrowth and dominance in sales across the board will likely take shape at the tail end of 2024 and start rolling faster by the new year. Read on for the market factors that will likely contribute to the development of the eyewear industry in the coming months.

Lifestyle trends and consumer culture

Consumer spending may be more moderated due to inflation, but much of the market is still dictated by trends. More than a specific style that rotates around like fast fashion, the eyewear market sees consumers wanting more personalization. Because eyewear is built for regular use, customer preferences have started to lean toward customizable options that create a unique look and offer different lifestyle features.

While this generally applies to added protective lenses, coatings, and other custom add-ons, it also rings true with the demand for smart product integration. Many eyewear shoppers are looking into eyewear models that offer augmented reality and smart-technology features like audio connectivity, fitness tracking, and cameras. Products like the Ray-Ban x Meta smart glasses even have multimodal AI-powered tech in their latest variants.

This has spurred huge tech companies to invest in vision-related innovations in other fields. Toku Inc. has recently closed major financing on retinal cameras in partnership with National Vision and Topcon Healthcare to create medical devices for global eye care. This investment round supported the development of retinal analysis using artificial intelligence to find biometric markers for stroke, diabetes, and cardiovascular events.

The swelling online market

Part of the inevitable growth of the eyewear market comes down to access. More people are online these days, with 66% of the world’s population with active access to the internet. With that, online retailers are also growing in number rapidly.

Sunglasses and recreational eyewear like sports goggles are in high demand, but prescription eyewear has also been bolstered. People who buy glasses online look to e-commerce as a convenient way to get more options, find affordable deals, and easily record their prescriptions for future reference. Online retailer Glasses.com has filters that showcase different frames, lenses, promos, and sustainable choices, perfect for consumers who are keener to buy multiple pairs.

Choice-centric consumers also value the variety of brands that can be picked up in one go through these sites. The titanium Oakley Wingfold, with its focus on portable durability, can now easily be put in the same cart as the thicker-framed acetate Coach Brooklyn – varied materials for different uses but potentially using the same prescription and lens protection. This accessibility makes online growth inevitable, especially as a survey by Vision Council revealed that 39.3% of glasses-wears feel it’s essential to have an extra pair. Additionally, e-commerce analysts mark a 5.1% annual increase in digital buyers.

Increasing visual impairment

The rise of tech impacts the eyewear market beyond e-commerce, too. It also brings about an increase in consumers who must buy glasses because of visual impairment. The demand for functional eyewear increases as more people are exposed to screens and activities that cause eye strain.

There is a significant spike in people who need prescription glasses, and the starting age for visual deterioration has gotten younger. In certain Asian countries, over 80% of students graduating high school are myopic. Moreover, a study by the World Economic Forum predicts that half of the world’s population will need to wear glasses by 2050. The rising need for eyewear coming from this growth in vision impairment will already start in the coming year.

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