Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Donna Karan and Luxottica: renewed eye deal is ideal

Cementing its reputation as the world's leader for the design, manufacture and distribution of glasses (both specs and sun), Italian luxury optical company Luxottica Group SpA has just renewed its global eyewear licence agreement with Donna Karan to produce prescription glasses and sunglasses under the DKNY and Donna Karan brands for a further 5 years. Luxottica - designing for own brands and licensed brands - has a portfolio which reads like a who's-who of the leading luxury brands and includes Bulgari, Burberry, Chanel, D&G, Oakley, Prada, Ray Ban and Versace amongst others.

For brand owners, there are clear competitive advantages to entering into a licence with a company which has a cost effective worldwide network of factory direct distrbution, an extensive retail business and established "tried and tested" reputation and expertise. For Luxottica, the renewal of the Donna Karan licence endorses the company's reputation and position as world leader in its field.

Reading the press release in her Bulgari frames, Fashionista muses on the power of branding and the trend for fashion brands extending to eyewear. Luxottica seems to have the market covered: a single company designing for a multitude of brands. How does Luxottica keep its competing licensees happy? By creating designs which perfectly reflect each brand's individual look.

How does the consumer choose? This is the power of branding. Ultimately, frames are large or small; round, square, or rectangular; rimmed or not. The colour will differ. There may be embellishments. The differences aren't that many. So the consumer is drawn to the brand: its ethos; what it represents; the message it conveys.

And why are brands extending to eyewear? To tap into a broader market, attract new customers and forge new loyalties. For the "spectacled" fashionista who likes to add a touch of glamour to her everyday look, branded eyewear achieves this. For the "recessionista" fashionista, it is a way of buying into a brand without imparting too much cash. For the "young" fashionista, it can be an introduction to a brand. The bonus? Eyewear branding is at eye-level, so it is the "eye deal" (sorry) advertising tactic by the brand owner: minimal expenditure; maximum exposure.