Acuvue is a major brand in the Rs 60 crore contact lens market. Although the market is led by Bausch and Lomb with around 70% market share, Acuvue can be termed as the innovation leader in this segment.
Acuvue, the brand of the Johnson &Johnson ( J&J) is a pioneer in the disposable contact lens category. Acuvue was the first disposable contact lens brand in India. The brand is the market leader in the disposable lens category.
Although the eye-care market is estimated to be around Rs 1200 crore, the contact lens category forms a minuscule part of the market. The penetration of this category is abysmally low even in the metros (5%). The changing lifestyle hold immense potential for this category in the years to come.
There are many factors that has inhibited the growth of contact lens. The primary factor being the price perception. Contact lenses are perceived to be priced higher and considered to be out of reach for the middle class. Another factor is the health and maintenance issue. Users of contact lens will agree that regular /prolonged use of lens often causes irritation . Although the marketers talk about convenience, the lens should be cared more and the limitation of its use ( example : you should remove the lens while taking a nap/ cooking etc) makes the consumer averse even to try this category. More over consumers are not aware about this category and its uses. Some reports suggest that most users have a fear of inserting foreign object in the eyes which is termed as Pokeaphobia that further limits the popularity of this category.
The target market for contact lens category is the SEC A B in metros ages anywhere between 15-35. While the consumers aged below 20 will not have their say in the purchase of contact lens, it is the working youngsters who show the maximum potential for a contact lens marketer.
Acuvue is a brand that had tried to make the category popular by addressing the two issues : cost and maintenance. The brand came out with disposable lens that can be used for two weeks and can be disposed thus freeing the customer from maintaitenance hassles. The brand became successful because customers of contact lens use ordinary glass as the primary eye wear and uses lens for special occasions/events. Primary need that these lens satisfy is the need for looking good. The brand is positioned as a healthy and convenient brand stressing the comfort factor. The brand has also embarked upon an e-trial initiative to prompt the potential consumers to try out this category. The consumers can go to the site and register themselves to get a trial pack of lens. The aim is to get the non users to try out this brand. The brand is optimistic that the majority of trial users will turn to be regular users. The brand is also trying to train the opticians because majority of sales happen at the shop and opticians acts as a major influencers.
Acuvue was also an innovation leader by coming out with lens that is bifocal and also color lens. One of the major innovation was the Acuvue 1-day lens that was launched in 2006. The new variant is a use and throw lens. It is the shampoo sachetisation of contact lens. The consumer insights is that people may need to look good on some special situations like marriage or interview or company presentation etc. One cannot afford to spent Rs 1000 just for that occasion. The solution is the 1-day use lens that costs only Rs 90. Theoretically it makes perfect sense.The product effectively seals a gap in the market.
But the larger issue is that the product related issues are limiting the category growth. The inherent product problems limit the popularity of this product category. The target which these marketers aim are those who will be using computers. Using lens while working on a computer will cause irritation in the eyes. This is just one example of how product problems can obstruct growth. Using lens while traveling in a motorcycle also is not advisable which alienates many young men from trying out lens or using it regularly. In such a scenario the 1-day lens or disposable lens make perfect sense. Till the contact lens marketers sort out the product related limitations, the category is going to remain a niche.
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