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The Spec-tacular Monopoly of Eyeglasses: The Luxottica Group

If you wear eyeglasses, you probably have had an unfortunate case of accidentally sitting on your glasses, and you most likely have winced at the thought of your mom’s wrath and rants about how expensive those things are. Ever wondered why these eyeglasses are so expensive?

The eyewear industry has undergone tremendous changes in the past few decades and is expected to grow to $165 billion by 2025. Most people do not know, though (myself included), that 80% of brands in this industry is owned by one company: The Luxottica Group. You may have not heard of this name, but maybe you would recognize some more familiar brands, like Ray-Ban, Oakley, Coach, and Ralph Lauren, all of which Luxottica owns. It also owns retail chains like Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, and the eye insurance provider EyeMed. Many contend that The Luxottica Group is a monopoly, so first, let’s briefly expound on what a monopoly is.

A monopoly is a type of market structure where a single seller or company has the dominant position in an industry. Monopolies tend to hinder competition, limit options for consumers, and affect the price of goods. Typically, monopolies are in the utility sector like electricity and water, and they are regulated by the government.

The debate on whether Luxottica is a monopoly is an ongoing one, especially after it merged with French eyewear maker Essilor. Those that think it is a monopoly say that, because it controls pretty much the whole entire process of manufacturing, distributing, ND selling eyeglasses, Luxottica can easily affect pricing for the end consumers like us. On the other hand, there are advantages to this model…it means that Luxottica can maintain the same level of quality across the board.

Ultimately, the question remains as to how this market structure affects consumers like us. Luxottica’s dominance means that there’s little to no competition in the market, which means limited innovation for this industry and higher prices. And with nearsightedness on the rise in the next few decades due to the widespread use of digital devices, we can expect this market to grow significantly.

In recent years however, we have seen the rise and increase of competitors offering glasses online, leading to cheaper options like Warby Parker and many others. As we have seen, having competition allows us to innovate, keep prices in check, and provide consumers with more options.

While monopolies are often equated with greed, note that monopolies aren’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, for some industries, this may be a a necessary thing. I’ll park that thought for a future post, but in the meantime, I hope that this helped you see and understand why eyeglasses can be pricey….it sure was eye-opening for me.

Online glasses retailers like Warby Parker may spice things up a little for Luxottica


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