Retail in Asia

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Contact lens industry continues to expand in 5 key Asian markets, finds GfK Asia

The contact lens industry in Korea, Taiwan Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong continue to flourish, closing 2011 with an 11 percent registered growth in total sales revenue. According to GfK retail audit findings across these five countries, the two biggest contact lens markets of Korea and Taiwan were the key drivers in this region with their robust double-digit sales expansion in both unit and value terms over the previous year.

Korea posted the best results with 20 percent growth in value sales, followed by second largest market Taiwan at 12 percent. Singapore and Malaysia similarly reflected hikes in value worth of the industry by 7 and 5 percent respectively.

"We have observed the stark differences in general contact lens trends and preferences in the different markets," commented Jasmine Lim, regional account director for Lifestyle products at GfK Asia. "For instance, Koreans are seen to be shifting their inclination towards daily beauty lenses, and while Taiwan is fast catching up in their demand in the daily modalities, it remains to be seen if the market will mirror a similar inclination towards the daily beauty category."

Overall, 2011 saw very sunny periods, thanks to the increasing consumer preference leading to dynamic growth in contact lens segments of shorter modalities, particularly in the daily disposables and beauty lens segments.

"The contact lens industry has been developing significantly in recent times with new consumer needs that have emerged into the latest trends. Usage of contact lens has evolved to serve beyond its originally intended purpose of vision correction and is now even popularly being used as a fashion accessory and beauty enhancement product," said Lim.

GfK is a sponsor at the MIDO International Optics Fair held on 11-13 March at Fieramilano in Milan, where the company shared the latest insights into the optics industry of European countries including Italy, Spain, Germany and France. According to GfK retail tracking in Europe, the contact lens market remained positive, as in the year before, ending 2011 with an increase in value of 1.6 percent.

"The optics industry in the west, specifically the contact lens market, is considered to be at a mature state as compared to the East, which explains its slower rate of growth in that part of the world," said Lim.

"Despite a negative macro-economic climate amidst the economic depression, there is still much potential for the fast developing contact lens business in Asia, and we can expect continued demands for such products as Silicon Hydrogel, dailies, and cosmetic lenses to keep on driving growth of this trade," concluded Lim.