How the Pandemic's End Triggered a Massive Year for Sunglasses

From reading glasses to sunglasses and everything in-between, eyewear can be more than just something to help you see clearer – it can be a reflection of your personality.

As the leader in global ecommerce acceleration, we’re constantly curious about the forces impacting shifts in consumer behavior. So, to celebrate National Eyewear Day, we decided to deep dive into the online sales for eyeglasses, sunglasses, frames, and more to answer a few burning questions:

Key Questions about Online Eyewear Sales

  • When do sales spike for different types of eyewear?
  • Which types and styles of eyewear see the most online demand?
  • Has COVID-19 impacted, positively or negatively, the demand for different types of eyewear?

To answer these questions, our data science team analyzed market demand for a range of eyewear categories and styles on Amazon over the past three years and published some of our key findings.

Topline Data and Insights

  • Demand for sunglasses picks up in late spring and peaks in mid-summer, while demand for other types of eyewear remains consistent throughout the year
  • Aviator sunglasses saw more online demand than any other style in 2021
  • COVID-19 has had a mixed impact on demand for different types of eyewear
    • Demand for sunglasses was down in the first months of 2020, but surged in 2021
    • Demand for blue light blocking computer glasses surged by 76% in early August 2020
    • Necessary items like contact lens care products saw demand rise in the first weeks of the pandemic, while most other types of eyewear experienced a steep drop
  • New Year’s Resolutions appear to drive demand for reading glasses and safety goggles and glasses
    • Safety goggles and glasses experienced a 115% increase in demand during the first week of January 2022

Let’s dig into the data.

Eyewear Demand Peaks in Summer

To start out, we wanted to see when Americans are shopping for all types of eyewear: eyeglasses, sunglasses, contact lenses, safety goggles, and more. So we examined weekly demand for all related categories and items in 2021 and the first few months of 2022.

Demand starts the year slow and picks up quickly in springtime, peaking during the height of summer. It then steadily decreases before plummeting during the holidays.

Seeing how just about everyone wears sunglasses and only a portion of the population uses corrective lenses, it’s safe to assume the above chart is heavily impacted by demand for a new pair of shades during the brightest months of the year.

With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper to examine seasonal demand for different types of eyewear.

Demand for Types of Eyewear

First, here’s a breakdown of which categories in our combined view held the most weight:

Sunglasses and eyewear accessories for both women and men drove far and away the most online demand on Amazon in 2021. From there, it’s a pretty significant drop to the next most popular categories: safety goggles and glasses, computer blue light blocking glasses, and reading glasses.

Now let’s examine some of these major categories to see if seasonal demand differs from one type of eyewear to the next.

Demand for Eyewear – By Category

Let’s start by comparing changes in demand for different types of eyewear:

Sure enough, sunglasses and sunglasses & eyewear accessories for both men and women mirror the combined view trend in the previous section, peaking over the summer.

Computer blue light blocking glasses, however, started January 2021 off with demand at its highest, declining steadily in the spring, and has remained below average throughout all of 2022 so far. This points, perhaps, to a pandemic-related upswing in demand for these types of glasses, something we’ll dig into momentarily.

Contact lens care products saw demand peak in 2021 during the fall, although early 2022 has seen demand rise well above the same time last year.

Safety goggles and glasses received by far the largest peak in demand during any single week in our analysis, more than doubling during the week of January 9th 2022. Demand also surged for the item during the summertime and January of 2021, suggesting that people are just as likely to start a big home renovation project as a New Year’s Resolution as they are during their summer break.

Most Popular Styles of Sunglasses and Eyewear

Before we dive into the past to see how COVID-19 has impacted demand for different types of eyewear, let’s take a quick look to see which types and styles are the most popular these days:

Polarized sunglasses, a term that would encompass many different styles of sunglasses, unsurprisingly saw the most demand in this view. Oakley sunglasses saw the most demand of any individual brand, although Ray Bans weren’t too far behind.

Aviators are the clear style of the moment, with “aviator sunglasses” easily outpacing any other style, and even just “aviators” still edged out wayfarers, which were the next most popular style. (And with Top Gun Maverick cementing its status as one of the first big blockbusters of 2022, we can only assume that demand for Aviators is about to surge to all new heights).

While these styles and brands of sunglasses may experience different levels of demand, here we can see that they see remarkably similar trends.

Most peak over the early summer and see demand steadily decline as summer turns to fall. Interestingly, wayfarers saw demand remain high throughout September and October, as compared to aviators who experience more consistent demand outside of a brief summer spike and another one during Halloween.

Impact of COVID-19 on Demand for Eyewear

It’s clear there are significant seasonal trends when it comes to eyewear, but we wanted to take a look back even further to see if more people working from home and fewer people spending time outdoors and on commutes in early 2020 led to significant changes in demand for different types of eyewear.

Let’s start by examining the weekly demand once more, but this time starting in January 2020, starting with a view of women’s and men’s sunglasses and eyewear accessories.

Demand for sunglasses absolutely cratered in the first weeks of the pandemic as a fresh pair of shades were clearly not at the top of anyone’s shopping list during lockdown.

It rebounded quickly as things began to open back up in early summer, but the summer surge in 2020 was clearly impacted as well. And by taking a monthly view we can look back even further and compare to pre-pandemic demand in 2019:

Interestingly, 2020 demand actually rebounded to slightly above 2019’s levels, while 2021 and 2022 so far have seen demand for sunglasses hit all time highs.

Demand for sunglasses shows us how much Americans were looking to get out and about during different stages of the pandemic, but the more indoor-focused types of eyewear tells a different story.

Computer blue light blocking glasses experienced a short dip in demand in the very first weeks of shutdowns followed by an immediate spike in mid-April. Then, in August and September as it became clear to millions of Americans that working from home and attending school via Zoom meeting would be the new normal, demand surged by over 70%.

After starting 2021 strong again, demand quickly receded in the spring and has remained low as people have returned to the office and the classroom.

The long term view shows us that 2021 actually finished the year with demand below pre-pandemic levels.

As for reading glasses, outside of a brief dip in demand during the first weeks of lockdown, 2020 appeared to be a relatively stronger year overall than 2021, but our monthly look will probably be more helpful here:

A lot of Americans must have set “read more books” as one of their New Year’s Resolutions, as January is always a huge month for reading glasses. This category also appeared to overperform during back-to-school season in 2020, suggesting yet again that the first year of the pandemic had some impact on reading glasses as well.

Demand for contact lens care products spiked in the first weeks of lockdown, increasing by nearly 30% during the week of March 15th. It then fell sharply, likely as a result of people having stocked up in preparation of an uncertain year ahead.

Even after that post panic-shopping dip, 2020 saw demand remain relatively ahead of pre-pandemic levels. 2021, meanwhile, started the year well behind early 2020, only to surge well ahead as things began to reopen and people started spending more time outside.

Finally, our long-term view of safety goggles and glasses reveals that year over year since the pandemic started has seen demand consistently outpace 2019’s monthly levels. Nothing compares, however, to the tremendous surge we highlighted during the first weeks of January 2022. It appears that more Americans than ever decided this was the year all of their big projects were going to get done.

Key Takeaways for Brands

Our data tells an interesting story when it comes to the seasonality of eyewear and the impact of COVID-19. As you’d expect, sunglasses experience the most demand during the late spring and early summer, while other types of eyewear see demand more evenly spread out throughout the year.

The early weeks of the pandemic, meanwhile, saw millions of Americans hold off on buying new sunglasses and other types of eyewear, but by late 2020 demand surged for items like blue screen computer glasses and reading glasses. 2021, meanwhile, saw demand for sunglasses pick up in a big way as Americans headed back outdoors after spending much of the previous year indoors.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how seasonality (weather and behavioral) and new behaviors (staying indoors during shutdowns) impact demand for their products on online marketplaces. These trends and insights can help brands better plan promotional periods that sync with interest and demand. Drilling into the demand details like location, gender, and price points provide specific action items for marketing and creative strategy as well.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

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Aug 8, 2022

Global Insights: Spotlight on Amazon in Emerging Markets

We have analyzed Amazon in emerging markets compared to countries where it has already achieved dominance, following its reported growth of 22% between [2020](https://www.marketplacepulse.com/articles/amazon-gmv-in-2020) and [2021](https://www.marketplacepulse.com/articles/amazon-gmv-reached-600-billion-in-2021). Pattern’s [Amazon Consumer Insights Report 2022](https://info.pattern.com/amazon-consumer-insights-report-2022) has highlighted some interesting insights into the similarities and differences in the ways Amazon is used across 17 different countries. We carried out research on various macroeconomic indicators and data related to Amazon usage in each country to better understand the key factors that determine the suitability of the markets. In this blog we outline the most interesting Amazon global insights that will be of interest to brands determining where they should have a presence on the marketplace, particularly Amazon in emerging markets. Population, urbanization, and GDP per capita are all factors which have a large effect on ecommerce and marketplace strategy in a country. These factors need to be taken into consideration when understanding the potential a brand has when entering a new market. Notable takeaways from the report are highlighted below. Price of Amazon Prime The monthly cost of Amazon Prime varies greatly depending on how developed the Amazon market is in the country. We noticed that in countries with a higher GDP per capita and a more dominant Amazon presence, the price of Prime is substantially higher, for example, in the US ($14.99) and in the UK ($10.08). The monthly cost of Prime in the UK has [recently increased by $1.26](https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-62297014) due to higher operating costs, but we believe that UK consumers will accept this increase. As a comparison, less developed markets with lower GDP per capita figures, such as Poland ($2.56) and Brazil ($3.12), have significantly lower monthly Prime prices. Amazon purposely prices Prime to be very cost-effective for customers in emerging markets as a customer acquisition strategy and to help grow its market share more quickly. Desktop vs. Mobile India, Japan and Mexico were found to have higher percentages of traffic from mobile devices compared to other markets. This is in line with data which looks at the [leading countries based on retail mobile commerce sales growth](https://www.statista.com/statistics/1261743/leading-countries-mobile-commerce-sales-growth/), and shows how particular countries spend more time online using mobiles rather than desktops. App Downloads & Ranking In this year’s report, we made the decision to include data on the Amazon App (Android), as more consumers are shopping online on mobile devices. This is reflected in the average monthly downloads and category rank of the app. Mexico sees an average of 1.2 million monthly downloads of the Amazon (Android) App. This is expected, as Mexico is one of the regions that has a higher percentage of traffic from mobile devices compared to desktops. In terms of average monthly Amazon web traffic, Mexico is the 9th largest out of the 17 countries analyzed, but after the US and Brazil, is the 3rd largest in terms of monthly downloads of the Android App, highlighting the country’s preference for using the Amazon App. Visit Duration & Page Views In markets where Amazon is robust and well developed, like the USA, UK and Germany, consumers tend to spend more time on the platform and view more pages per visit, as there is more choice from a wider range of products to explore. On the other hand, in markets where Amazon is still either at its early implementation or growth phase, like the Netherlands, Poland, and Brazil, there is less on offer and a far smaller selection or products. Inevitably, we noticed consumers have a lower average visit duration and view fewer pages in these markets. We would expect to see these metrics increase as Amazon’s product selection increases in these markets. Top Selling Categories There are many similarities between the different markets in terms of the top selling categories in each country. Out of 17 countries, 12 had Home & Kitchen and 11 had Electronics in their top 3 categories. Regional differences can be seen with Sports & Outdoors only ranking as a top category in the UK, Video Games only in Japan, and Hardware only in Germany. It is important for brands to acknowledge that not all categories will sell successfully across all markets. Just because the category is popular in one or more markets, does not mean that it will work across all 17 instances that we analyzed. Our Amazon consumer insights report shows that although the online marketplace dominates online retail in the USA and several other Western European countries, the company is aiming to build that position in countries where it is newer in the market by taking into account the regional differences in consumer behavior and expectations within its proposition. [Download the full report here](https://info.pattern.com/amazon-consumer-insights-report-2022), and [contact us here](https://info.pattern.com/contact-us/) to learn how we could support your global marketplace strategy or for more information on how we partner with brands to represent them on Amazon.
Aug 4, 2022

How Disjointed Sellers Take Away Brand Control on Ecommerce Marketplaces

A top issue we see with brands struggling on ecommerce marketplaces is a loss of brand control due to disjointed sellers—those that aren't following your brand policies and guidelines when selling your products online. Disjointed sellers can be gray market, unauthorized, and rogue sellers, as well as 3P and other sellers that are noncompliant with your branding, pricing, and other forms of representation online.

It can be very easy for brands to lose control of their ecommerce strategy when they can’t get a handle on disjointed sellers. Typically, these brands are either stuck in a game of whack-a-mole or just ignoring the warning signs of bigger issues and hoping for the best. But, when disjointed selling isn't handled right, the consequences can be devastating to profitability. A loss of brand control doesn’t happen overnight, and the factors that contribute to it are long-standing. 

Erode Consumer Trust

Before the advent of ecommerce, brands favored a wide distribution. It was the easiest way to get products to as many distributors as possible. But wide distribution, when left unchecked, leads to leaky distribution—allowing your excess products to end up in the hands of unwanted sellers.

So brands that continue to operate with a wide distribution strategy are losing brand control and are damaging their brand equity and product performance. Why? You’re unable to monitor your products’ pricing, performance, or quality. You can’t dictate how you’re represented by each seller, creating an inconsistent and false representation of your brand to your new and existing consumers. These issues often lead to poor reviews and erode opportunities to build trust with future customers.

Wear Away Brand Equity

In today’s ecommerce landscape, marketplaces and digital platforms connect people and sellers to make online shopping simple and seamless. They also provide customers complete price transparency. Google, for instance, allows consumers to access any of your products on virtually every ecommerce channel and retail location and posts them side-by-side for you to comparison shop.

Now, everyone from your D2C distributors to large marketplace sellers, legitimate 3P sellers, and rogue and unauthorized sellers are on a level playing field—they’re all presented to the searching consumer, and that consumer has the purchase power.

Disjointed sellers have just as much power and authority to represent your brand as you do, without the same quality, pricing strategy, and customer focus as you.

Cause Competition and Price Matching Issues 

In most shopping scenarios, consumers will choose to purchase a product from whichever seller offers the lowest price. Marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart know this, and optimize their product selection based on all retail offers to serve consumers the lowest price for the same item.

This means that as one seller drops the price of your product, the next will follow, and then the next, etc. Everyone gains access to the product at or below MSRP. This opens the door for unauthorized sellers to purchase inventory during promotions or at discounted prices and then turn around and sell the same product slightly below competing sellers’ prices—for profit.  

As customers search for your product, they notice the cheaper price and purchase from the unauthorized seller, rather than paying the price you’ve established with your retail teams. Simultaneously, as Amazon monitors their product listing against other available channels, they notice they don’t have the lowest price. So Amazon, and other marketplaces, in service of the consumer, drop their price to match the lower price offered by an unauthorized seller. To stay competitive, your other channels follow suit. The cycle, also know as the profitability death spiral, continues to drive down the price of your product, grinding away your margins and profitability.

This doesn’t sound like much of a problem if your brand isn’t actively selling on ecommerce marketplaces, right? Unfortunately, it causes big issues for your brick-and-mortar sales, too. Large retail chains like Best Buy and Macy’s noticed this potential loss of sales from ecommerce and needed to defend and protect their profit. Retailers started telling brands that, in order to keep their products in-store (which accounts for 80% of most brands’ sales) they would need to lower their prices to match online prices. Which led to the concept of price matching. If a customer could prove the price of a product was lower somewhere else, Best Buy would match the lower price and charge the brand for the difference.

As other brick-and-mortar retailers jumped on the trend, brands started to see large losses in their margins.

Gain Ecommerce Control with Pattern

The danger that disjointed sellers pose to brands is enormous—without a way to control all of a brand’s distribution points on ecommerce, your brand spins farther and farther down the profitability death spiral. Using custom technology and data-driven insights, Pattern can identify disjointed and unauthorized sellers for your brand and develop a custom strategy tailored to your specific needs to address these big issues as soon as possible. Then, Pattern partners with the econtrol law firm, VORYs, to enforce take downs and save brands who find themselves caught on any stage of the death spiral.

With the right resources and expert help, we’ve helped hundreds of brands to regain their footing and control on ecommerce, win the buy box, and grow their sales. 

Contact us today to regain your brand control.

Aug 4, 2022

Ecommerce Innovators Podcast - Achieving Growth Through Technology

Join us for Ecommerce Innovators, a podcast that brings together the brightest minds in the industry to explore innovative strategies and trends in global ecommerce. We'll analyze what top brands are doing to accelerate their online success and you’ll hear from top executives who are changing the game for their organizations. Our host is John LeBaron, Chief Revenue Officer at Pattern—the premier partner for global ecommerce acceleration.

Listen on Spotify

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In our conversation with John Wessel, CTO and SVP of Product & Digital at Fresh Water Systems, he talks about digital transformation, innovation, and growth. Hear about the many hats John’s wears, how the company has transformed since the 90s to stay cutting edge, the pharmacy part of the business, aligning and prioritizing multiple channels, and competing with Amazon.

Ecommerce Innovators Episode Synopsis

As we interviewed John Wessel, here are some things we learned:

Content leads to search ranking. For Fresh Water Systems’ ecommerce site, around 70% of their traffic is to the blog. The secret for content is “well-researched, well-written, long form content that is informative”. John explained that they have an SEO team who writes 5000+ word posts that are researched and documented. People read these blogs and comment, which drives more traffic to the blogs.

Ecommerce is changing the shopping game. John shared an interesting story about a plumber who orders parts every Friday night online, from wherever he can get the best price. He doesn’t have relationships with one supplier or an auto-renew subscription for his parts. Instead, he finds the best price just for the parts he needs every week. John thinks the trend of price shopping will continue, especially as ecommerce grows.

Invest in customer engagement, but don’t invest a lot of time into emails. How many advertising emails do you actually read? Companies often spend a lot of time doing A/B tests and crafting the “perfect” email. However, John pointed out that almost no one reads emails anymore. Instead, invest your time into different brand touchpoints you will have with your customer. You can still send emails, but make sure you dedicate less time to the process.

Listen to the full episode for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.