The first thing to point out about the topline results of sunglasses brands is the incredible list of favorite brands among 13-25-year-olds, which is the largest ever captured by Label Networks in the last 8 years. This indicates that more brands and stores are entering the accessory marketplace, particularly with sunglasses, as preferences diversify with styles and favorite brands. This can also be seen as the percentages of top brands generally have decreased within the top 20 brands as preferences move in niche directions. Similar to what we’re seeing in various genres of fashion such as denim, T-shirts, and footwear, more brands to choose from and more “favorites” have created new niches in favorite brands and styles, which marks both an opportunity for getting into the marketplace since the market is no longer dominated by 1 or 2 brands, but also presents a challenge to keep consumers from switching preferences (see charts and graphs for additional top brands).

Overall, Generic Brand or No Name Brand continues to the be the #1 “brand” of favorite sunglasses at 12.3% among 13-25-year-olds, but this has decreased from 16.1% in the Spring Study 2007, indicating that more “name” brand sunglasses are becoming more popular among youth culture. In addition, there are less people who say I don’t wear any sunglasses, as indicated by the growing popularity of wearing sunglasses as a key accessory to complete specific styles within this demographic. What’s also interesting about the top brands, are the changes in ranking, such as Ray Ban now as the #1 brand at 10.3%, followed closely by Oakley at 9.8% which has dropped to 2nd from 13.4% in the Spring Study 2007. One reason for Ray Ban becoming more popular (up from 4.5%) has to due with current retro ’80’s style trends which include the looks of the old-school Ray Bans. This is followed by Chanel at 6.5% which has increased also from 6%, Dolce & Gabbana at 4.9% which has increased from 3.1%. Spy and Electric, similar to Oakley have dropped in percentages whereas “store” brand names have increased, especially notable is Forever 21 at 3.1%, Urban Outfitters at 2%, Target at 1.8% (plus further down the list, store brands such as Pac Sun, H&M, and Hot Topic). This marks an interesting change in sunglass brands in that stores are replacing favorite “brands” as top sunglasses. Other brands to note include Spy Optic at 2.7%, which has dropped from 3.3%, Aviators at 2.6%, which has increased, Dior at 2.3%, Electric at 2.1%, and American Eagle at 1.7% tied with Coach. Fossil has also made it into the top 15 at 1.6% tied with Von Zipper and Gucci.

By gender, females have higher percentages that tend to buy Generic Brands at 13.9% however this has decreased from 17.4% since the Spring Study 2007. In comparison, 9% of males buy Generic Brands which has also decreased from 14.6% from last year. Overall, this indicates that more young people are buying “name” brand sunglasses, indicating a growth for branded sunglasses. However, what’s also interesting to point out is that Oakley is by far #1 among males, spiking at 23.9% as the preferred sunglasses brand, which is an increase from 21.6% in the Spring Study 2007. While the brand has increased as a favorite among males, it has decreased among females at 2.8% of females, which is down from 6.2% in the Spring Study 2007. Given the results of the next two questions regarding frequency and prices paid for sunglasses, the female marketplace presents an opportunity for brands that mainly attract males, and vice versa. For example, Chanel is at 8.9% of females and 1.5% of males. While it’s mostly known as a female brand in apparel, this generation is far more “genderless” and open to styles and brands that can have an appeal to both genders. Ray Ban, for example, comes in 2nd overall because it has a high percentage among both genders at 11.7% of males and 9.6% of females. Females tend to have higher percentages for designer-brand sunglasses such as Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and Dior, however Gucci should be noted in that is now has almost equal appeal to both genders. What’s also interesting is that females have relatively high percentages for store brands such as Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Target, and H&M, indicating a strong marketplace in general among females. While last year, more females tended to use sunglasses as a key accessory of their style, males now have also turned to sunglasses for this purpose as well. Top brands among males include Oakley, Ray Ban, Spy Optic, Electric, Dolce & Gabbana, and Aviators (see charts and graphs for top sunglass brands by gender).

By age groups, Generic Brands are high across all age groups, but peak mostly among 13-14-year-olds at 14.6%, followed by 21-25-year-olds at 14.2%. Oakley peaks among 18-20-year-olds which is similar to last year, at 12.3%, however this has decreased from 15.8% among this age group last year. Chanel, which has actually always been strong among 15-17-year-olds, is now highest among 13-14-year-olds at 9.8%, followed by 15-17-year-olds at 5.6%. Dolce & Gabbana now peaks among 15-17-year-olds, which has moved younger in terms of preferences from last year. A notable brand is the store brand Forever 21. It’s moved up in preferences across the board among 13-25-year-olds, and now peaks among 15-17-year-olds at 4.1%. Spy Optic has grown “older” in that there’s a direct correlation that the older the demographic, the higher the percentages that prefer Spy.

Interestingly, age also indicates great differences in preferences of sunglass brands and like gender, provides vital information for where brands are best targeted and where opportunities lie. However generally speaking, the female marketplace offers the greatest opportunity for sunglass brands, although more competitive. This is especially the case for store-name brands of sunglasses. Store-name brands also have an opportunity for attracting males but has not yet been tapped into this genre as effectively as with females, particularly among 18-25-year-olds. Also, more designer brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci now attract a higher percentage of males (not just females), whereas sports or action sports-inspired brands such as Oakley, Spy Optics, and Electric, still have a ways to go towards attracting more females. This is remains a market opportunity.

For more on spending patterns, size of market, and frequency, refer to the Sunglasses section in the Spring Study 2008.