Japanese eyewear retailer Owndays recently opened its 23rd Singapore store at Clementi Mall, with the 1,173 sq ft outlet featuring high chairs where customers can try out the frames.
In a time when malls are rapidly emptying out, opening an offline outlet is more often than not seen as a risk, with companies choosing to integrate online platforms into their operations instead.
However, the Japanese brand has ambitious plans to reach 30 outlets islandwide – something it has much certainty in.
Is this confidence justified, though? Because unlike other wearables like clothes, the regular person probably only needs one pair of glasses anyway.
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Here’s why we think that in spite of the retail slump, the Japanese company’s vision isn’t so ridiculous at all.
1. Spectacles Are Not Just Visual Aids Anymore
While spectacles used to be something that serves a purely functional purpose, it has quickly become something more of a fashion statement.
This is great news for a company like Owndays, which brands itself more of a place to purchase a fashion accessory, as compared to just somewhere to get a visual aid.
According to a report on The Straits Times, an average of 6,000 pairs of spectacles are sold every week, and one-fifth of its customers buy “at least two pairs of spectacles from the brand each year, with some purchasing up to four pairs a year”.
With over 1,500 (and counting) styles of glasses stocked, the brand manages to cater to the tastes of a wide variety of customers – from those who are simply looking for functionality, to those looking to impress.
Besides, when getting a new pair of glasses sets you back less than $100 and 1 hour of your time, where’s the harm in owning another one?
Which then brings us to the next point.
2. Unbeatable Speed And Lower Prices
Founded in 2002, it was first introduced to Singaporeans in 2013 via its first outlet at Plaza Singapura.
Since then, it has been disrupting the eyewear industry with its speed and low prices.
With 2,000 to 3,000 types of lenses stocked at a store at any one time, Owndays customers can collect their new spectacles within 20 minutes after payment.
Prices range from $98-$198, and it even offers 50% off the second purchase within the same day – greatly spurring on impulse buys.
And it also has the figures to back up its success – sales more than doubled from 2014 to 2016, and out of the $140 million revenue it garnered from its global outlets, $36 million came from the Singapore market itself.
Older shops are quick to differentiate themselves from the new kid on the block, though.
Said a spokesperson from Nanyang Optical, which has been around since the 1960s, “To me Owndays is like going for fast food. At Nanyang we are more like a restaurant where food is cooked to order. We can tailor and customise to your needs.”
3. When Japanese Brands Are King
In a burgeoning eyewear market with $181.5 million made from sales of spectacle frames and more than one million frames sold last year, it doesn’t hurt that Owndays has also endeared itself to Singaporean consumers with its ‘made in Japan’ tag.
In a study by Japanese ad firm in 2015, it found that Singaporeans aged 15 to 29 have been the most exposed to Japanese food, and this “works well for Japanese brands and brands tapping into culture collaboration amongst many other things” too.
In fact, F&B chain McDonald’s has benefitted from the association, with social media promotions for its Japan-inspired Samurai Burger “performing around four times better compared to the average reach of posts in the quarter”.
The Burgers are also said to be among the most popular promotional menu items, and it “frequently receives requests to bring the Samurai Burgers back on the menu”.
And it’s not just in F&B – Yuichiro Joshua Okada, head of business development of ADK Global, said that Japanese brands have seen success overseas due to their association to high quality and durable products.
“In this era, the marketing strategies for Japanese brands were all about creating high quality products. Therefore, the foreigner’s image towards Japan has been skewed towards high tech and high quality for such a long time.”
From Uniqlo to Muji to Kinokuniya, impressions of Japanese brands and companies are mostly overwhelmingly positive, and due to that, have managed to thrive amidst the retail slump.
Thus, even with its lower prices, Owndays’ items are seldom assumed to be of inferior quality, making them a value-for-money purchase.
A 20/20 Vision
Even with the retail slump that has seen brands shuttering outlets, or even closing down completely, Owndays doesn’t seem to be facing that threat at all.
With its success here spurring on the entry of competitors like fellow Japanese brand Zoff, and their offerings giving the fashion-conscious Singapore consumer the aesthetic they desire, it’s safe to say that their vision for 30 outlets is definitely 20/20.