Vision Express aims to be ‘John Lewis’ of eyewear retail

Vision Express is aiming to be the ‘John Lewis’ of eyewear retail with a marketing push this year that will communicate its “expertise” in eye wear and move the industry away from light-hearted marketing messages.

Video: Vision Express’s latest marketing campaign is the first step in a push to cement its position as the authority on eye health.

The retailer launched its “Vision. Taken Seriously” campaign, created by agency Dare, last month and James White, Vision Express’s head of brand marketing, told Marketing Week that it has already helped push sales up by double-digit figures. He said the campaign is the first stage in plans to cement Vision Express as the authority in the industry.

“We see ourselves like a John Lewis – we are the experts, we know a lot about eye care. We want to cement our positioning in that area and really talk about eye health. If you talk to our customers, they’ll say eye health is important but they don’t really know much about it so we need to provide them with more information. We want to do more in this area and make sure customers can say what we stand for, versus what Specsavers stands for,” he added.

White said Vision Express is increasing its marketing spend this year, having conducted extensive research on what customers are looking for. He said alongside more information on diseases such as diabetes and glaucoma, customers also want reassurance on picking frames.

“People are nervous and unsure what glasses to pick. It’s all about reassurance on that journey and at the end being able to pick something fun, it’s a difficult retail experience,” he said.

Vision Express is also hoping to prove its fashion credentials through its tie-up with Heston Blumenthal, who is releasing his second collection for the retailer. White said the popularity of the first range means Heston’s brand is now the biggest selling at Vision Express, with the chef’s “iconic” image helping the retailer market to an increasingly fashion-conscious audience.

He said technological advances such as steel edges and thinner and lighter frames are helping to make glasses more fashionable. However, he ruled out technology becoming the new battleground in the eyewear market, for the next few years at least, despite Google signing up Ray-Ban and Oakley to develop products based on its Glasses technology.

“This is the stuff at the forefront of technology, but we need to understand what the customer benefit can be before we absolutely get behind it. We want to make sure we can develop it for the mainstream as well. It’s something to keep an eye on and in the next few years we’ll see movements towards more tech, but it’ll take a two or three years,” he said.

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