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The optical conglomerate Luxottica owns three famous brands associated with spectacles: PearleVision, LensCrafters, and Sunglass Hut. But this parent company does not treat all three siblings equally, and its choices appear directly related to their performance.

In 2012 for example, Luxottica spent $14 million on advertising for PearleVision, but it allocated $48.5 million to LensCrafters’ marketing campaigns. Accordingly, whereas PearleVision suffered a 3.3 percent sales decrease (earning $1.19 billion) in that year, LensCrafters enjoyed a jump of 8 percent, to $1.21 billion. No parent likes to see such struggles in its offspring, so Luxottica has begun unveiling a new marketing campaign, in an attempt to change the trend for PearleVision.

Profile of man working on computerIt is doing so in a changing market though. Online retailers of vision and optical products have made huge inroads, by offering vast choices of eyeglass styles, relatively lower prices (which are possible because they do not have the overhead costs of maintaining brick-and-mortar stores), and convenient replacement and refill services for contact lenses. For example, the Warby Parker online glasses retailer offers a flat price of $95 for any prescription glasses. Hipsters and fashion trendsetters who change their glasses to match each outfit thus have access to a reasonably priced range, to fit anything they wear.

In addition, discount retailers such as Walmart and Target have increasingly added optical services in their stores. These low priced options offer another form of convenience, in that consumers doing their regular shopping can pop in to the in-store areas to get a quick fix or check how a new style might look. As a result, Walmart and Sam’s Club optical revenues combined recently reached $1.5 billion.

Perhaps there is room for all these competitors. Aging populations, such as the massive Baby Boomer market, increasingly need glasses. Some estimates indicate that half of the Baby Boomers already rely on vision correction devices. In addition, the new health care laws may make eyeglass prescriptions more accessible to a newly insured group of consumers. In such dynamic settings, PearleVision needs to make sure its marketing investments are sufficient to keep its brand and offerings directly in consumers’ line of sight.

Source: Maureen Morrison, “PearleVision Set to Unveil Brand Reboot,” Advertising Age, April 22, 2013