Contact Lens Market: Peculiar And Full Of Opportunities

GfK announced its first insights from the newly launched contact lens POS tracker at Vision-X 2016 and that looked promising for the UAE and KSA

With an estimated average share of the optician business comprised between 10 and 15 percent, the Contact Lenses category in the KSA and UAE remains secondary in store although, compared to other countries like Europe (8% EU4), this share is higher. While these 2 countries show peculiarities in their market structure, both benefit from a developed beauty segments bringing further opportunities for industry players as well as for opticians.

Health and Beauty

Of the total soft Contact Lenses market (which represent 99 percent of the sales, RGP CL having a residual share of the market) both clear and beauty contact lenses are significant in the KSA and UAE. This is particularly true in the KSA where 50 percent of the sell-out value and 53 percent of the volumes (Equivalent, Jan-Aug 2016 data) comes from the beauty segment. In contrast, clear is more predominant in the UAE where it holds 65 percent and 64 percent share in value and volume respectively.

However, this share varies according to the type of shop and the regions: in the KSA, on average, the share (in value) of beauty within Independents is of 54 percent whereas it represents 46 percent within Major Chains; Beauty is also over-weighed in the West (53 percent in value) while it is lower in the East (46 percent).

Similarly in the UAE beauty is more predominant within Independents (46 percent value share vs. 32 percent within Major Chains); Dubai also shows the highest share of Clear Contact Lenses (72 percent) compared to the rest of the Emirates (57 percent). If the beauty segment is very well established in the region, the level of development of Daily Disposable usage is still lagging behind compared to the clear segment, as Jean-Albert Deba, Senior Account Manager at GfK Middle East and Africa notices, “while daily disposable lenses generate the highest turnover within the clear segment (particularly in the UAE -64 percent- against 51 percent KSA), beauty contact lenses business primarily come from Reusable lenses (more than 90 percent in the KSA and 77 percent in the UAE).”

More precisely regarding the clear segment, spherical contact lenses account for the highest share of the sell-out value (85/87 percent) while toric lenses (12/14 percent) and multifocal lenses (1 percent) are much less common.

Development opportunities
for retailers and industry players

If contact lenses in the KSA and UAE remains a small part of the average business of an optician this share is still higher when compared to EU countries. According to David Lewis, Head of Digital & Optics at GfK Middle East and Africa, “Beyond turnover considerations strictly speaking, the CL category can be seen as an opportunity especially in the KSA and the UAE: as a more frequent visitor in store, the CL wearers’ potential spend in store is also higher (potential cross selling / higher loyalty to the store). And considering the importance of beauty CL users, this category can attract a very fashion-oriented clientele with a potential higher renewal rate as well as multiple equipment ownership profile.”

Looking at this specific segment (beauty) in detail, further opportunities might come from the development of the use of Daily Disposable CL which are underdeveloped compared to a more saturated Reusable segment.

In contrast, innovation will be a key for the development of clear segment particularly through the gradual switch from Traditional Hydrogel to SI-Hy products. Development of the CL usage for astigmatic patients is undoubtedly another area of growth for the industry.

“Delivering actionable value-added market insights is at the core of our job at GfK and establishing our services for Optics in the Middle East was one of our priorities given the potential we anticipate for this region. The Optics market in the Middle-East has unique characteristics. Our expansion into this strategic region is now offering the possibility for our Industry and Retail/Opticians Partners to benefit from GfK unique market intelligence capabilities. We started tracking the Contact Lenses market but are now already working to expand into Eyewear,” states Gianni Cossar, Global Director, Optics &
Eyewear at GfK.

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