VisionPlus catches up with Luxottica’s country manager for India, Akash Goyle, to understand the key factors propelling the company’s sustained growth as well as its future endeavours
After working in various capacities in some of India’s biggest companies, Akash Goyle joined Luxottica as Key Account Head in 2007, to today take up the reins as its Country Manager. In conversation with the VisionPlus Team, he reminisces about his journey so far, and the growth potential of the Indian eyewear industry.
VisionPlus (VP): Tell us more about your journey with Luxottica.
Akash Goyle (AG): It has been a wonderful journey of over seven years with Luxottica. I have gained experience that is unmatched and have witnessed an exponential growth of the organisation. I am delighted to see the phenomenal evolution that the Indian optical industry has undergone over the past few years. There has been emphasis on category development – be it in the sphere of luxury, sport performance or premium brands. The entry of international luxury brands in India is a testimonial to growth, development and globalisation. All I can say is that it’s been an interesting and a very rewarding experience.
VP: India has a variety of customers, probably more diverse than any other part of the world. Does this make your job tougher or more interesting?
AG: It is certainly more interesting for us to work in a dynamic market like India that offers a diverse set of consumers, leading to a vast spectrum of consumer behaviours and choices to understand and respond to. What makes it even more exciting is the fact that we work on an equally diversified portfolio of brands, ranging from fast fashion to premium to super luxury.
VP: Unlike most other accessories, people still seem to be content with one eyewear. Do you see any change in this in the Indian consumer?
AG: Young, urban, affluent consumers are keen on possessing more than one pair of eyewear. Over the years sunglasses and optical frames have progressed as an important fashion accessory. We have witnessed a visible change in the trend where consumers are viewing eyewear as a must-have fashion accessory that is specific to different occasions and not just a functional product.
Just to give you a broad perspective, this is something we have seen not only in India but in all fast growing markets in Asia: today consumers are increasingly attentive to details and demanding in terms of style and comfort. They are well-evolved and knowledgeable in terms of brands, trends and styles.
While we would like more and more consumers to possess more than a pair of eyewear, we would also like to focus on new customer acquisition and deeper penetration into smaller cities of India.
VP: Spectacles or sunglasses – where do you see more growth in the Indian eyewear industry, and why?
AG: Both the categories are critical and need equal attention from a business point of view. Sunglasses have always been perceived as a key fashion accessory. However, it will be interesting to note that they play an extremely important functional role, as they protect our eyes from a lot of ailing environmental effects. On the other hand, optical frames that are mostly looked at for their functional properties are now fast turning into a fashion accessory.
The real growth comes from an evolved customer who is demanding a great quality product and is embracing a new modern lifestyle. Another important growth driver is the market we operate in, be it metros or Tier 2 cities like Chandigarh, Pune, etc., which are witnessing a consumer boom.
VP: And in between the fashion and luxury eyewear segment, where do you see more growth?
AG: We believe that the fashion segment is a growth driver with huge potential, given the emerging consumer set and a very well-defined target audience. Having said that, the luxury eyewear segment also plays a critical role, contributing towards the overall business strategy.
We, at Luxottica, are working towards giving our consumers a vast variety of products to choose from. We work cohesively with our product team to put together collections across brands (Vogue Eyewear, Ray-Ban and Oakley) that are exclusively designed for India. We understand that each consumer is different from the other, and in order to adhere to the specific demands of our consumers we have developed different offerings.
VP: How does the Indian eyewear industry differ from its international counterparts? What would you like to see different in India for it to develop into a much larger and more mature market?
AG: Luxottica set foot in the Indian market in early 2000, and since then India has been a very important market for us, given the large population and fast economic growth. Today, together with Brazil, China, Mexico and Turkey, India is one of the drivers of Luxottica’s growth in the emerging markets, where net sales keep growing and we believe this impressive trend might indeed continue in the years to follow.
Some additional factors leading to the growth of the Indian eyewear industry are rising income levels and penetration of retail distributors’ networks. The eyewear industry in India has witnessed a steep rise in recent years on account of higher sales of eyewear across an array of segments.
Understanding the growth potential of the market we operate in, one of our key strategies has been to drive growth, build brand and connect with the local consumer. What has also worked well for us is having local brand testimonials. For Vogue Eyewear, we have Deepika Padukone as our brand testimonial, whereas leading cricketers Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh represent our design and innovation brand rooted in sports – Oakley.
VP: What more can the industry and customers expect from Luxottica in the future?
AG: We are committed towards providing top excellence to our consumers. Products manufactured and distributed by Luxottica Group are the result of supreme precision and expertise that have evolved over time and perfected with large investments in research and development.
Our focus is towards ensuring a better customer experience, and in order to attain this objective we lay great emphasis on training and development of our resources. We only wish to improve ourselves in the future, to take on new challenges and achieve higher growth.
VP: Luxottica’s Lux Prime Programme – what are its objectives, how has it developed so far and what do you see as the road ahead?AG: Lux Prime is an exclusive programme by Luxottica that aims to create exemplary stores and optimum purchasing experience on Luxury and Premium eyewear. Our main objective with Lux Prime Stores is to lend a delightful experience to our consumers.
The Lux Prime stores are constantly nurtured with various support tools to optimise consumer experiences with our brands, starting from the placement of an ideal assortment, consistent training sessions, and store transformations with display formats, storytelling and training. In short, exclusive products sold in the right ambience, from expert hands and backed by great service!
VP: Thank you for speaking to us, Akash. Wish you the very best.