As we are all slowly adjusting to a new “normal”, what will our future look like? One thing I am optimistic about is that people learn to be more patient because let’s face it, queuing and waiting is becoming even more of a norm nowadays. However, in the world of eyewear, what does it all mean? Here are some of my predictions. FYI I didn’t make them up out of thin air, I used to write for WGSN on trends so I understand how trend predictions work.
1. Popping into your local opticians for basic eye examinations could be a thing of the past. It could be conducted virtually in the near future.
With the constant development of smart glasses, doing basic examinations may take less effort and can save time for patients if they can be done virtually. However, for more serious eye-related problems, I still believe that seeing a professional is important.
2. Buying glasses online is not something new and nether is trying glasses on virtually, however, buying glasses online from a store that offers a more realistic “live shopping” experience may well be possible in the future with the help of virtual reality technolgy.
Offering consumers the “live shopping” experience but without having a physical shop space. Glasses are definitely a product that needs to be tried on and with the constant development of apps offering virtual try-ons, this could merge in with a shopping experience including dispensing opticians being available online to help customers, just like a real shop. With this pandemic, more and more people have shifted the way they shop and online shopping will have to be a focus of every retailer.
3. Consumers are more and more aware of the environmental impact we are having on the planet.
Now with the pandemic, so much PPE (disposable facemasks, gloves etc) is being produced but what will happen to them? With this in mind, more and more consumers will also want to know what materials are their glasses made of, just like in the fashion industry now. More and more people want to know and soon, this will feed through into the optical industry too because they are seen as a fashion item, especially sunglasses.
Consumers are getting smarter and the next generation will also grow up to be much more environmentally aware. By saying acetate is a cotton-based fibre will no longer cut it. Yes, it is cotton-based but how quick can it decompose or can it decompose? What chemicals are used to produce it? Can we easily recycle them? How much ends up in landfill and eventually, the sea? These are just some of the questions consumers will ask in the near future.
4. Packaging for glasses could become really minimalist and every bit of the packaging can be easily recycled.
At the moment packaging materials for one pair of glasses or sunglasses can be very elaborate but in the future, this could become very minimalist and everything used in that packaging will be easily recycled, moving away from single-use plastic.
5. The lenses used in glasses will fully decompose or may even go back to being glass.
At the moment almost all lenses are made out of plastic because it is lighter than glass (which they used to be made of). A new type of glass could be developed so they are lighter than before. Alternatively, creating a fully decomposable plastic lens is an option. Again, this isn’t something new, they are available now but are rare. The technology to develop these will come much quicker due to the pandemic and the environmental issues we are now having. New types of materials may also apply to the contact lens sector too.
These five points are just some of the things that I can see changing in the near future due to the pandemic. These five predictions are based on what is happening around us as a society and within various industries, in particular the fashion industry (which is an industry I am very familiar with and always have my eyes on). These predictions are just the basic five things I have focused on, there will be many other side trends feeding through I am sure.
As a consumer reading this, how do you feel about some of the possible changes in the future for the optical industry? The possibilities for change are endless especially now with the impact of the pandemic it is forcing us all to change and adapt quickly. It has changed the way we think and we are seeing the world a little differently. What other changes can you see happening?