Brand review provides strategic insight into the positions that brands occupy in consumers' brains. Every month, Validators takes a closer look at a different industry. This month we examine the opticians, in which we have mapped out the mental market position of the 5 largest optician chains and the independent opticians together. Brandreview is part of the Consumer Behaviour Monitor, an initiative by Validators and VU Amsterdam to measure the effect of a crisis on consumer behaviour since 2020. In this article, you can read about the most important results.

The aim of the research is to identify the needs and perspectives of consumers. By starting with the consumer (and not with the brand) you get a picture of what is really relevant to the target group. What do consumers base their choices on when it comes to opticians? Validators came up with 16 Category Entry Points (CEPs) for choosing an optician. Of these, the two most relevant and least relevant needs are shown in the graph below.


The brands in the study:

'Expert staff' is the most important reason in choosing an optician, as many as 9 in 10 find this a relevant CEP. At No. 2 are 'Good quality products,' which is indicated by 85% as a relevant reason. The two least relevant reasons are 'easy money back/other glasses' (70%) and in last place 'easy website' (47%). Interestingly, the younger 18-34 group (65% relevance) finds this CEP more relevant than the 35-54 (49%) and 55+ group (30%).

Market shares in optics industry
Pearle claims leadership in both mental market share and real market share, followed by Hans Anders and Specsavers. Although the opticians are almost balanced - mental market share is almost the same as real market share - Specsavers has the most favorable position here. The situation for Pearle and Specsavers is that they are considered (slightly) less than their market share is expected, but are still often chosen (real market share). If you want to grow in mental market share as an optician, you would be wise to be top of mind be at the top of relevant situations for choosing an optician.

The ideal position is to be "above the line" as a brand where there is growth potential, such as Specsavers. When a brand is considered more than chosen, there is a barrier present that prevents this full occupancy. The case for Specsavers is to investigate what this barrier is and remove it to achieve brand growth. 

Figure 1: top 2 CEPs with highest and lowest relevance within opticians

Figure 2: Mental versus real market share opticians

Mental competition by CEP
The various CEPs measure the number of brands being considered. If many brands are considered in a category, then (mental) competition is greater. The number of competitors within opticians ranges from 2.6 to 3.1. In terms of ROI, it can make quite a difference in which need you want to grow. For example, the least competition is on "Good experiences" and the most competition is on "Wide assortment. Using this competitive analysis, it becomes clear for each CEP whether you have a small or large mental battle to wage in the minds of consumers. For example, for the smaller optician chains Eye Wish and Eyelove, it makes sense to pay attention to relevant CEPs where there are relatively few competitors and focus long-term communication here, such as 'Good experiences' (2.6 competitors, 80% relevance). An example of a brand that communicates this very well is Coolblue - "everything for a smile."

What does the competition score high on?
What is even more important is to know what the competition is doing. An important part in growing in mental market share is clearly mapping the competitive umbrella and what is happening here. On which CEPs does the competition score mentally higher or lower than your brand? In Figure 3, we zoom in on the CEP "Economical" on which Hans Anders scores high. This means that when another optician wants to communicate 'Advantageous' in campaigns, there is already one competitor (Hans Anders) that has strongly claimed this CEP. So it becomes more difficult for other opticians to link this association to their own brand.



Growth opportunities for brands in mental market share
Recently, Validators developed the Brand Growth Matrix as a validation on prioritization of growth opportunities on credibility/strength brand link, competition and relevance. The result is a matrix that makes it clear to brands where opportunities for growth in market share lie.

For the following example in Figure 4, Hans Anders was analyzed with the Brand Growth Matrix. Growth opportunities lie mainly in the yellow area where high relevance meets a medium brand link, in this case 'Good eye measurement equipment' (relevance 85%). Only independent optical stores are strongly linked to 'Good eye measurement equipment' - no large optician chain has claimed this CEP. If Hans Anders wants to grow in mental market share, the brand would do well to link itself more strongly to the need 'Good eye measurement equipment'. That is the direction of communication for the long term, rather than focusing on the moderately relevant CEP 'Inexpensive' - which, by the way, did produce a strong brand link.

Figure 3: CEP advantageous

Figure 4: Brand Growth Matrix Hans Anders

What is the media budget spent on?
The Share of Voice (SOV) tells us how much a brand has spent on media relative to total media spend in the overall market, in this case the opticians' market. Specsavers takes a whopping 52% of total media spend over the past 4 years, which should mean significant growth in market share.

When we examine the communication of this brand, it appears that Specsavers mainly focuses on the need for 'Promotions and discounts'. This is also evident from the strong brand link that Specsavers has with this CEP. Despite this, focusing on 'Promotions and discounts' will not make the brand conquer the market, given its mediocre relevance (71%). If Specsavers were to invest more in a CEP with a higher relevance with this budget, this increases the chance of gaining market share. The highly relevant CEP 'Expert staff' is a good example of this – competitor Pearle is the only one to focus on this in its media communications, but has a significantly smaller SOV (24%).

Do you have questions about this study? If so, please feel free to contact

Set-up Brand Review
In 2018, VU Amsterdam and Validators launched the Institute for Brand Analytics. The goal of this collaboration is to make brands steerable and market shares measurable in the minds of consumers. After four years of research on over 300 brands, we arrived at a method that could measure the strength of brands and make predictions about market share. Starting in August, a specific industry will run each month as part of the Consumer Behavior Monitor. First, an online qualitative preliminary survey tests consumer needs (CEPs) and then a Brand Review measurement.

This article also appeared on MarketingTribune.