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The optician industry is one which focuses on vision and the health of our eyes, with every child actively encouraged from a young age to undergo regular assessment to ensure that their sight is reaching high standards and to ascertain whether or not they need ongoing support through glasses and other accessories.
As we grow older and our senses change focus, our interaction with opticians and with the optical industry changes, as those requiring glasses are invited to upgrade their prescriptions and update their glasses frames on a semi regular basis, while those with good vision are simply offered sporadic tests to ensure their eyes are still healthy and working in a way that the experts deem as effective.
For many who need glasses however, especially from a young age, the optician industry can fast become an expensive output, with vouchers and deals becoming a welcome concept to many who require different pairs of glasses for different situations, and regular updates as their vision shifts and changes.
When we look at the Optician industry, it soon becomes clear that as a sector, the optical world is divided between the retail and customer service stores and experiences, and the medical consultations and backing which supports prescriptions, and which keeps the industry moving forward. Though these two work together intrinsically in order to drive the industry forward and turn it into a recognisable sector in the retail world, they operate in very different ways and with very different priorities.
The world of an Optician is unlike many of the other retail industries - given the fact that Opticians are not salespeople and thus any rise in sales within the industry is down to the marketing which is targeted at those who are told by these optical experts that they require glasses. From there, the industry focuses on the sale of glasses and accessories, with the sector gradually expanding overtime to now include the provision of sunglasses and advanced styles of glasses designed for different uses and different lifestyles.
The modern world has also adjusted and adapted to offer more permanent and long term solutions, all of which sit under the Optician industry but which come at various costs – some provided by high street retail stores, for example glasses cases and chains, while others are relegated to the medical industry, for example laser eye surgery and contact lenses. A main question that consumers have with regards to vouchers and deals in particular looks at how these different trends within the industry work together – does a voucher received for a new pair of glasses apply in various retailers, or just in the one where you first purchased your pair of glasses? Does a voucher for a new pair of contact lenses apply to glasses as well? Can you pick up prescription sunglasses with a voucher for a new pair of glasses?
This all comes down to the unity created by the industry in tying together the experience as a whole – right through from the initial consultation with the expert Optician, through to the purchase of the final pair of glasses which deliver the vision support that the buyer needs.
The main retailer names in the optician sector are those closely associated with the medical backing and expertise required to deliver great eye health and results. As such, there are few options on the mass market for optician retailers – but all of these offer a plethora of different brand partnerships which give buyers the chance to invest in a pair of glasses which are as stylish as they are practical.
Some of the most commonly recognised and well represented retailers in the optician industry include:
The optician industry is also served by larger retail names which have expanded their offering to include a section dedicated to the expertise of an optician, with top examples including retailers such as Selfridges and Saks Fifth Avenue which both provide an optician service to customers who want to receive the benefit of having their eyes tested from the sanctity of a luxury and high end retail environment. Surprisingly, these kinds of experiences are infinitely popular which shows the consumer affinity for high end experiences, with customers benefitting from the fact that they can visit the optician from the comfort of their favourite high street store. It is worth noting, however, that if you read the fine print on many retailer vouchers and gift cards, any monetary value or discount tends not to cover optician services and other similar services within their store.
Once a customer has decided – or been told – that they need to wear a pair of glasses, their choice really begins. The fact is, where optician retail sits in a very specific area with only a small cross section of retail names able to provide the completely service and support required for effective sales and advice, there is nothing to stop fashion designers and brands from creating their own answer to an ever-growing sector – with optician shelves stacked full of frames which are designed and provided by some of the most notorious fashion brands out there.
This is where the real success of the industry comes in – and it is also where buyers are given the opportunity to benefit from deals and vouchers and even gift cards that they may have been offered, with the retail sector providing an opportunity for savings where treatment and consultation do not.
On to the brands now, with some of the main and most popular brands including those who offer both affordable and easy to wear frames, and those who produce frames which are a little more extravagant and visually interesting. And it doesn’t end there – with sizing and face shapes playing a huge role in the creation of different frames, as can be seen when you dive deeper into the sheer quantity of glasses frames which the top optician retailer’s stock.
Some of the best and most notable brands in the optician sector include:
Many of these brands have succeeded in creating a crossover between their fashion accessory lines and their glasses lines, particularly with regards to the way that glasses are increasingly becoming part of a style and fashion statement as well as continuing to be something practical to enhance vision.
When you break the optician retail industry down further, acknowledging the importance of the consultation stage and the fact that once a prescription has been provided the customer is driven towards the retail end of the industry, you start to realise that the industry actually extends far beyond the mere provision of glasses.
In fact, some of the most popular products within the optician industry are actually the accessories which come with glasses, with many customers seeking a variety of different accessories to upgrade their look and to stay on top of the trends and fashion styles.
A great example is sunglasses, which sit both in the fashion accessory sector and in the optician sector – mainly because for those who need to wear glasses to improve their vision, prescription sunglasses are also required. These tend to be more expensive that a regular pair of sunglasses from a fashion retail store and are also available across a range of different brands.
Another trend which has influenced a major section of the optician industry is the increasing call for stylish frames with plain glass lenses, creating a product and attracting an entire market of buyers who otherwise would have no interaction with the industry. The fact is, in certain style circles and fashion magazines, wearing glasses is now seen as cool, preppy and stylish – with various marketing techniques and tactics being used to let buyers know that wearing glasses is not something they should be shying away from. As an industry, the optician industry and the wearing of glasses has not always been cool or even welcome – yet modern marketing has seen a huge uptake in the number of buyers, particularly young people, who want to wear glasses even when they don’t need them.
Sports glasses are another popular trend and a main division within the optician industry, with different athletes and sports people requiring different styles and fits depending on the requirement and activity level of their chosen sport. Cycling is a good example, with cycling glasses largely relying on a very tight fit around the back and sides of the head in order to stay in place. Likewise, glasses for runners require a different fit, with many runners looking for ways to keep their glasses or sunglasses in place without them rubbing on the nose.
One of the most important main trends and popular products within the optician industry lends itself well to these sorts of buyers – contact lenses. Created to essentially eradicate the need for glasses altogether, contact lenses have grown in popularity exponentially in the last few years, with more and more customers seeing the benefit in simply changing the lens regularly and otherwise enjoying perfect vision without adjusting their style and aesthetic appearance. Contact lenses often come from the medical side of the optician industry rather than the retail side, though once confirmed, customers are able to buy more without the need for regular checks and consultations.
The challenge within the optician sector and industry will always be the idea that while the accessories and frames of the glasses sit comfortably within the retail world, the actual effectiveness of the industry and its main goal lies very much in the medical and scientific world – with little regard for sales figures, profits and the way that brands use marketing and gift cards.
By buying a gift card or using a voucher for the optician industry, what you are getting is a discount or deal on the purchase of the frame and the accessories rather than the treatment and consultation itself – with options like laser surgery and contact lenses rarely applicable for discounts, deals or vouchers unless agreed and advertised by your chosen clinic.
How do these brands and retailers keep turning over such high profits? There is a lot to be said from marketing and using visuals in order to sell an idea or a concept as to how someone could look wearing a pair of glasses with a specific brand or logo on them. The use of celebrities and well known people is one of the main drivers for individuals seeking out a specific brand, though it is just as important to offer a wide selection of different styles, so that in a store someone looking for a new pair of glasses is likely to find a great pair within your collection.
Word of mouth and reputation is also an important part of every area of the optician industry, with opticians themselves using reputation as a main tool in ensuring that communities continually visit them for all their visionary needs. And then we have the basic fact that our lifestyles and increasing reliance on technology is driving forward a continued growth and increase in the number of people needing glasses. Staring at a screen all day does nothing for eye health, and while work places are now required by law to provide DSE assessments which allow their employees to monitor and ensure the best results for their own health, the fact is that our reliance on screen work will continue to provide movement for the optician industry.
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