Italian eyewear firm Marcolin Group discusses design collaboration and the importance of differentiation in a saturated market.
It is often said that accessories make an outfit – and the data backs it up.
The global eyewear market was estimated to be worth around $131 billion in 2018, and forecasted to reach $211 billion by 2025, according to Statista, making eyewear brands primed for a market that is ready.
For companies such as Marcolin Group, differentiation is key, as the fashion eyewear company is recognized worldwide for its design expertise in eyewear and a well-established production, distribution and operations structure that is inclusive of factories, warehouses, customer service and after-sales service in the global eyewear industry.
And it is Marcolin Group’s ability to embed a brand’s attributes into highly crafted eyewear that truly sets the company apart from the rest. With headquarters in Italy’s Veneto region and an office in Milan, the company told WWD Studios that its “unique capability to faithfully combine design and Italian craftsmanship with the core values of each brand is a relevant identifying feature. The brand portfolio we represent is made of global well-known brands, with a clear positioning and a strong reputation, not overlapping.”
The company has a diversified brand portfolio that features Tom Ford, Bally, Moncler, Sportmax, Ermenegildo Zegna, Longines, OMEGA, Victoria’s Secret, Victoria’s Secret PINK, Roberto Cavalli, Atelier Swarovski, Barton Perreira, Tod’s, Emilio Pucci, Swarovski, Dsquared2, Guess, Diesel, Just Cavalli, Covergirl, Kenneth Cole, Timberland, Gant, Harley-Davidson, Marciano, Catherine Deneuve, Skechers, Candie’s, Rampage, Viva, Marcolin and Web. Each eyewear product is made of high-quality materials, streamlined processes and an intimate, highly collaborative design process with each brand.
Eye on the Market
Marcolin Group employs a minimum of 50-steps for every pair of eyewear, and its manufacturing method is exceedingly meticulous to ensure the outcome of high-caliber products. By the use of materials such as wood, synthetic diamond and leather, the firm creates desirable, uncommon effects in eyewear, in addition to lenses where a wide range of colors, thicknesses and finishing options are offered to clients.
Visual branding expertise, it seems, is Marcolin Group’s core differentiator. “The company is very close to each licensee represented for eyewear in order to properly reflect it in this category,” the company said, while emphasizing that much of its success in securing and maintaining long-term relationships with well-known fashion and luxury brands is its tight focus on the changing dynamics of the market.
“All the steps concerning the eyewear process from the design to distribution, as well as communication, are done together, closely, to be aligned and enabled to promptly respond to every market need or change. Today, the context is more volatile and fast-changing than before. Marcolin Group, as a partner, is able to promptly adapt and respond to this perspective, with an international structure.”
The firm added that time-to-market and omni-channel are “key words” when competing in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace. “Our partnership set with L Brands for Victoria’s Secret and Victoria’s Secret PINK represents the perfect expression of our capability to quickly responding to digital transformation and our ability to capture the needs of increasingly demanding and connected consumers,” they noted.
“The ultimate challenge for companies is to effect digital transformation in every aspect of the organizational culture, closing the gaps between customers’ expectations and the service and experience they receive. Nowadays, it’s about merging online and offline channels, and finding new ways of collaborating.”
But there are other factors at play. Marcolin Group said of equal importance is speed, and possessing the requisite agility needed to move at lightning speed to meet the needs of both clients and consumers. “We constantly work to reduce the gap and moving closer next to our partners – which includes worldwide distributors, key accounts and opticians – and consumers, in order to speed up the reception of online and offline items concerning our brands and company, to automate the information process,” the company explained.
Regarding the growth and changes in the market, Marcolin Group has made various investments, notably with a new website, and via social media channels – all inclusive of refined graphic design, branding and a desire to offer consumers a more engaging and dynamic user experience. “The website has been conceived as an updated container enriched by the latest brands’ news, eyewear collections, fashion trends, and technical information to remain aligned with both consumers and B2B needs and requirements,” the company said.
And part of its differentiating strategy is keeping in line with current consumer demands and trends – which includes a renewed emphasis on sustainability. For Marcolin Group, this means changes in its production and distribution processes.
“We are stepping up our research and development in sustainable materials, such as the use of bio-acetate and bio lenses. Production is the first step, then distribution. This means to only sell to channels and customers that are compliant with the eco-friendly approach.”
Raising the Bar
Trends aside, the company is vibrant from a business perspective: Since January of this year, Marcolin Group has secured several landmark partnerships, including an exclusive agreement with eyewear brand Barton Perreira for broad-based international distribution of Barton Perreira sun and optical eyewear; an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with the Max Mara Fashion Group for the design, production and distribution of sunglass and eyeglass frames for women, under the Sportmax brand; the addition of MAX & Co. to its brand portfolio; a design collaboration with Omega SA and Longines Watch Co. Francillon Ltd. for sunglasses and eyeglasses; a licensing agreement with Adidas; renewed licensing agreements with major brands such as Emilio Pucci and Harley-Davidson Motor Company; and an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement for the design, production and distribution of sunglasses and eyeglass frames for BMW, BMW M and BMW M Motorsport labels.
But perhaps the biggest testament to its quality and reputation within the industry is the extension of its agreement with Tom Ford International, signed in 2015, which is the longest eyewear licensing agreement that ever occurred in the industry. Marcolin Group’s contract includes the design, production and worldwide distribution of Tom Ford Eyewear sunglasses and optical frames until 2029.
Also bolstering its business is the opening of its new branch, based in Singapore, which is expected to boost Marcolin Group’s growth in the Asia Pacific region, and “reinforce the commercial synergy with the already existing regional office in Hong Kong, acting as a commercial hub for the entire network of wholesalers and taking care of the distribution of the brand portfolio in the area,” the company explained.
“The aim is to strengthen sales and marketing activities and provide a dedicated customer service to better serve the Singapore region, Malaysia and South East Asia. The Marcolin Group Singapore branch is located in the Marina Bay Financial Centre, a business center designed to ensure Singapore’s place as the financial capital of South-East Asia and a global key hub.”
And as far as future thinking, the company aspires to “be the number one alternative to Luxottica and the best eyewear player to work with,” they explained. “We offer a balanced, not overlapping brand portfolio ranging from luxury, to fashion, premium and sportive, combined with a complete level of service – to match all of our customers’ needs.”