Sunglasses Industry- The Growth and Trends

Sunglasses Industry- The Growth and Trends


The Sunglasses Industry is massive. According to statistical reports, the industry is currently worth a little over $17 billion, and it’s projected to increase in value by at least 5% every year till the end of 2026. Though the pandemic affected the sales of sunglasses, causing it to experience an aggregate downfall, there seems to be a quick recovery happening at the moment. Since social engagement is the primary driver of sunglasses sales, the industry growth rate had to experience that downward pull. Now that we have outdoor recreational and sports activities back, the industry can also return to its previous growth experience.

In this article, we’ll look at various aspects of the sunglasses industry; its growth rate before the pandemic and afterward, factors that determine the growth rate, and so on. We’ll also be looking at the trends in the sunglasses industry so far and how the trend seems to change, factors that affect the trend, and what we should expect in years to come. Without taking too much time, let’s delve into the business.

  • Growth of the Sunglasses Industry
  • Product Type Category
  • Product Design Category
  • Channels of Distribution
  • Sunglass Growth Bottom-line
  • Factors That Determine the Growth Rate
  • Growth of the Sunglasses Industry

Growth of the Sunglasses Industry

Sunglasses are a type of protective wear. They help us build a defense against the harsh light of the sun. The sun itself is not against us, it’s there to support the planet, and we need the sun because of the benefits it offers. However, the sunray sometimes seems too powerful for the eye even when you’re not looking directly at it. Though no one intentionally looks directly up to the sun, but on bright and sunny days—think of the day out watching your favorite sport or at the beach—you need something to protect your eyes, and that’s where sunglasses come in handy.

However, they do not only protect us from sunlight; sunglasses also become handy when we face high-energy visible light, which can be discomforting to the eyes. They limit its intensity and render the energy insignificant. So, based on these, the sunglasses market has what it needs to thrive. However, we have seen the sunglasses market grow to develop a vast array of products in recent years. Today, we can segment them using categories such as; product type, product design, and channel of distribution. Let’s look at each one of these categories.

Product Type Category

By segmenting the sunglass industry into product types, we have two major types, namely polarized and non-polarized sunglasses. Every sunglass manufacturer makes lenses from several plastics, glass, or polycarbonates. The combination of materials used to determine if the sunglass will be non-polarized or polarized. What does it mean to have polarized or non-polarized sunglasses?

Polarized Sunglasses

They are those sunglasses that have their lenses coated with the anti-reflexive substance. The goal is to help provide additional clarity by reducing glare and consequently protecting your eyes. They offer benefits such as clearer vision when you come across bright light, minimal color distortion and increased contrast, reduced reflection and glare, reduced eye strain, etc. In general, they are an excellent option for you if you spend a lot of time outdoors.

They work by filtering the light and stopping it from passing through to the eyes with its high velocity. Usually, glares are horizontal light, and the filter of polarized lenses is vertical. In other words, the lenses will only allow passage for vertical light and block out horizontal ones, thereby eliminating the possibility of glare shining directly through your eyes.

Non-polarized Sunglasses

Non-polarized sunglasses, on the other hand, do not have filters that prevent the penetration of horizontal light rays, though they also offer protection from light. They are not as effective as polarized glasses, and they are less expensive. Those who find it difficult to see clearly through the polarized lenses will find non-polarized ones very useful. They are easier to use and view LCD screens. So if you find it challenging to see screens clear when with polarized sunglasses, you should opt for non-polarized ones. Also, when you look at colors through non-polarized sunglasses, you tend to see them for their actual color. That’s particularly significant to objects that have white surfaces. 

In summary, the choice of which type of sunglass to wear comes down to individual needs. If you have an outing that requires coming in contact with a lot of reflexive surfaces, or you’re spending the summer days at the beach, you’ll find polarized sunglasses to be of more use than non-polarized sunglasses. On the other hand, if the outdoor activities are a trip to the mountains or a snow-capped area, you will find the non-polarized glasses to be of better use. 

Product Design Category

Sunglasses, though they look similar, are not designed for the same category of end-users. Some manufacturers design their products so that it’s obvious the product is precisely for this particular gender, while some may be difficult to determine which gender it fits. However, we know that manufacturers design products with end-users in mind. When the manufacturer mainly designs a sunglass for the female gender, it comes out different from the male gender. Some designs are also unisex—they are a perfect fit for both genders.

Masculine Sunglasses

When you come across a sunglass designed for men, it is more than likely that you’ll find its bridge—that part that sits over the nose—to be more comprehensive when compared to the one designed for females. Also, the arms on a typical male version of sunglasses will be longer than that of a female version—that’s because men are proven to have a wider face. 

Feminine Sunglasses 

The feminine sunglass design has varieties; however, it’s not uncommon to find sunglasses that have huge frame designs. It can also come in the form of tiny frame sunglasses that have very thick arms. In general, the design is to fit the belief that women generally have more petite facial features. Also, the overall design of female sunglasses is such that they have more curves along the arm of the glasses and around the eyes. That’s to fit the curvier and softer facial features of the feminine gender.

Channels of Distribution

Like every other product these days, sunglasses have two primary channels of distribution, namely, offline and online stores. The channels determine if the end users get to have access to these products or not. Most sunglass brands tend to have online stores where they market and sell some of their products. It is, however, most common to find these brands in offline stores as most people consider sunglasses as a luxury. 

So, you find that users go into an offline store to get one or two things but come out with sunglasses alongside the things they went to get. That’s to show that most sunglasses users get them as an afterthought and its availability in offline stores pushes its growth beyond considerable means.

Sunglasses Industry Growth Bottom-line

Because manufacturers of sunglasses have provided adaptable features for the various sunglasses, end-users now find usability in them. Consequently, the market growth rate is taking a good turn and continues to give hope. We can expect that as more products get developed in the coming days—getting adaptable and more fitting for the needs of end-users—the market growth graph will continue to shoot for the moon.

Factors That Determine the Growth Rate

As stated earlier, during the COVID-19 lockdown and many months in the year 2020, there was a significant downfall in the sunglasses growth rate and a decrease in the purchasing power of sunglasses. However, as sporting and outdoor activities began to return, the market surged up in growth. This phenomenon proved beyond doubt that the ultimate driving force for sunglass industry market growth is outdoor activities.

However, with free access to outdoor activities, there seems to be some other compelling driving force of the sunglasses market, they include;

Increased awareness for protection against glare and ultraviolet radiation

Glares occur when the eyes suddenly come in contact with an intensity of light. It causes discomfort and loss of visual performance, though the eye eventually gets adapted to it. They can cause severe damage to the eye over time. The same goes with ultraviolet radiation our eyes get exposed to as we go about our daily activities. 

The challenge is that most people do not know the damaging effect of this phenomenon over time. However, when there’s an increase in awareness and the need to protect our eyes against glare and ultraviolet rays, the sunglasses market share will experience a significant rise, much more than we currently have.

Growth in the Popularity of Sunglasses as a Fashion Product

It’s no doubt that most people consider sunglasses a fashion product. However, most manufacturers intend to create a protective product. However, when manufacturers and brands take up the fashion responsibility, adding features such as flexibility, lightweight, ample choices in lenses, and the durability of materials, these things are likely going to drive the demand for sunglasses and consequently increase the market cap.

Seasonal Variation

Seasonal variation is also a significant factor. Though there is demand for sunglasses during the winter, it is minimal compared to what the demand says in the summer. That’s when sporting, recreational, tourism activities, etc., are in high demand. With these things comes the demand for sunglasses as well. Though the sunglasses industry can do nothing about how the weather turns out, there can be leverage on the summer season if the industry engages in aggressive marketing with protection from glare and UV light awareness.

Consumer Disposable income

The sunglass market is doing well in countries like the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Russia, and the rest of Europe. That’s to tell the fact that the market is dependent on how much disposable income consumers have. Though countries with less economic development also contribute to the global sunglasses market, including African countries, they are not as significantly contributory as those in America and Europe. Sunglasses are a luxury you may not consider until you have disposable income to afford the cost.


The sunglasses industry is a competitive one. Every brand seems to strive to gather enough consumers and take a significant portion of the vast market. However, in the grand scheme of the event, it’s a big win for the industry, including anyone who seems to enter into the market today. The big wigs are doing the work, creating awareness, and leveraging the season; anyone can come in and thrive on this already established work.

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