Men are almost twice as likely as women to buy designer brand sunglasses so they look cool in the sun. One in ten will spend £100.
More men say they want quality and are prepared to pay for it than women and more men think expensive designer brand sunglasses are a status symbol. Women buy many pairs of cheap sunglasses to match their different outfits.
£100 price tagOn average, the majority (54%) of consumers are only willing to spend £30 or less on a pair of sunglasses, but men are more drawn to the premium end of the market, with nearly one in ten (9%) of them ready to spend up to £100 for a pair of sunglasses - as opposed to 5% of women.
In contrast, women tend to gravitate towards value end of the price spectrum, with four in ten (40%) only willing to spend under £15 on a pair of sunglasses, compared to fewer than three in ten (27%) of men.
And men's interest is not limited to appearance. Purchasing sunglasses to wear for sport is highest among men (11%) vs only 4% of women.
Sunglasses have always been cool. My favourite is in the cult 1980 film the Blues Brothers in which Ellwood (Dan Ackroyd), says to his brother Jake, (John Belushi): "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tanks of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses." Who is your sunglasses king of cool?
StylishThe researchers from Mintel found that almost half (40%) of Brits say that stylish sunglasses make them feel fashionable, but men are almost twice (20%) as likely as women (11%) to buy into designer sunglasses brands.
Men are also likely to be the biggest spenders within the category, as high quality is ranked as important by 42% of them - compared to 28% of women - and 31% say that it is worth paying more to get better quality sunglasses (vs 27% women).
And it seems sunglasses are more than just another fashion accessory - as nearly one in five (19%) British men say that having designer sunglasses is a status symbol (compared to 15% women) and having a genuine brand is important to 22% of men (vs 17% of women).
The eyes have itTamara Sender, senior consumer analyst at Mintel, said: "Men are more inclined than women to indulge themselves with designer sunglasses, likely because they do not tend to spend as much on other fashion accessories or jewellery.
"Young women look for fun, trendy sunglasses which don't cost a fortune as they are likely to be viewed as a short-term purchase that can both be changed regularly, and form part of a 'wardrobe' of different styles to create different fashion looks, while men show a greater affinity for luxury brands."
Technical specsAlso other features, such as anti-glare lenses - suitable for driving for example - is valued by 30% of men (vs 25% of women). Meanwhile light-reaction lenses are of interest for around the same number of consumers (13% of men and 12% of women).
Sender adds: "Technology-led innovation has been particularly strong in the sports brands category, which is driven by features such as anti-glare, shatterproof, 100% UV filters and flexible frames, all of which add value, even before style and fashion have been taken into consideration.
"Sunglasses boasting the latest advancements in sunglasses technology that aid performance are likely to stimulate sales among sports enthusiasts. Sports frames are most likely to benefit from the Olympic Games boost as people look to emulate the competing athletes and medal winners."
Market darkeningOverall, the value of the sunglasses market has tumbled over the last five years, declining by 24%, from £152 million in 2006 to £115 million in 2011. This negative growth has been fuelled by a drop in average selling price of sunglasses, as consumers rein in their discretionary spend in the current economic climate.
However, Mintel estimates that the market has grown by 3% in 2011 and that it will start to recover in 2012 to reach £140 million in 2016, almost returning to values seen in the pre-recessionary climes of 2007.
Health benefitsAnd looking to the future, increasing consumer interest in health related issues may translate into business opportunities for the industry. Mintel's research reveals that more than six in ten (62%) consumers, rising to two-thirds of under-25s (65%), are motivated to purchase new sunglasses before going on a holiday.
However, while the majority is concerned about the health benefits of wearing sunglasses (53%), this falls to only four in ten (41%) among the under-25s.
"There is scope for sunglasses – as with sunscreen – to be pitched as a health essential for everyday life rather than just a holiday must-have, with more information about the damage that the sun can have on people's eyes in the long term and the impact of wearing sunglasses with inadequate UV protection," Sender concludes.
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