Market View

Revitalization of Eyewear Market in Japan

2012/12/19 Wednesday
fromTTBy Account Executive, Kenta Majima

In recent times, eyewear known as “PC Megane”, which means “personal computer glasses” in Japanese, have been a hot topic. These computer glasses cut the amount of blue light emitted from PC or smart phone screens, thereby protecting the wearer’s eyes from damage. The leading examples are J!NS PC”from JIN CO., LTD and“Zoff PC”from Intermestic, Inc. According to research by Nikkei Trendy, 750,000 pairs of J!NS PC have been sold since their launch, which is evidence of the dramatic growth of the category. Personally, after I began doing a large amount of deskwork, I suffered from serious eye fatigue, so I bought a pair of computer glasses. Ever since, I have been free from eye fatigue and feel comfortable even when working in front of a computer for long hours. Still, I was curious as to how PC Megane became so popular and experienced such rapid, dramatic growth in sales, so I have looked into the subject further.

The first factor is that computer glasses have redefined the way that glasses were normally used. Previously, glasses were perceived to be eyewear used by people with poor eye sight. In other words, glasses were irrelevant to people who did not have impaired eyesight, although they might need sun glasses for cutting sunlight. Despite this strong preconception of how glasses are used, PC Megane focused on computers and smart phones which are absolutely essential for modernized people and have created a completely new market that computer glasses can improve the quality of people’s livelihood even if they have normal eyesight. Of course, with a prescriotion, computer glasses are also available for those with poor eyesight.

Secondly, a unique sales channel has played a key role in the growth in popularity. In general, glasses can be purchased in eyewear specialty stores. However, surprisingly, JIN CO.,LTD has made its computer glasses available in vending machines and also online website, a glasses have never previously been sold. As a result, like grocery items, glasses have come to be able to be purchased with ease by anyone, anywhere and at any time. Of course, they can also be purchased in stores and, if non-prescription, you do not have to even wait to take a pair of these new innovative glasses home with you. This high level of convenience has contributed to the growth of this category, among the core target: busy businesspeople.

A third reason would be marketing methods that are distinctly different from that of conventional glasses. For example, JIN CO.,LTD actively utilized third parties such as ophthalmologists and IT companies, when its computer glasses firstly came out in the market. The company used ophthalmologist-designed demonstration experiments in order to prove that computer glasses can ease eye fatigue and damage that can be caused by blue light over the long-term. Meanwhile, at IT companies, whose employees spend long hours working on computers due to the nature of their work, JIN distributed the products for free for IT employees to try out in order to facilitate the word of mouth effectiveness among those in the IT industry. After these marketing activities, namely medical proof plus positive word of mouth from the actual users, the company started to promote the products through TV commercials, and sales took off dramatically from there.

Glasses have been around since 13th century, and it had been said that we cannot expect further innovation on glasses. Due a price-cutting trend seen in recent times, the market size has shrunken by more than 100 billion yen over the last ten years. Despite this situation, glasses brands have created a new segment in the market that has shifted the market trajectory from decline to growth once again. Based on this great example of innovative idea that revitalizes a mundane product, I must say, there could be as “big hits” coming from mature categories, if we just change our point of view as the some “visionaries” have done in the eyewear market.