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Action Sports Sunglass Usage among US Adults

In August 2014, The Vision Council fielded a short questionnaire (11 questions) originally developed in August 2011 to survey American plano sunglass purchasers and Rx sun users about their action sports habits as they relate to sunglasses.  The questions were appended to the August 2014 VisionWatch questionnaire that was sent to approximately 10,000 US American adults.  The sample was balanced and weighted to be demographically and psycho-graphically representative of the U.S. population over the age of 18.

Among the 8,758 qualified respondents, around 61 percent said they had participated in at least one action sports activity in the past year.  The most common activity was hiking, in which 1 in 4 respondents said they had participated the past year. Close behind were running, camping and fishing.  Age and region tended to be the two major factors that split respondents’ likelihood to participate in action sports in general as well as participate in specific action sports.  Younger respondents tended to be more likely to participate in action sports than older respondents.  We found that around 72.5 percent of respondents under the age of 45 had participated in an action sport in the past year while only 49.7 percent of respondents 45 years of age or older had.

Unaided, we asked respondents to tell us what their favorite action sports sunglass brand is.  The most common brand that was reported was Oakley (18.9 percent of respondents).  RayBan was also a common brand with 9.6 percent of respondents saying it was their favorite action sports sunglass brand.  We also had around 36 percent of respondents who said they didn’t have a preference when it came to action sports sunglass brands and about 14 percent of respondents who said they did not know what their favorite brand was.

In order to test brand awareness we asked respondents which brands they recognized from a list of 21 actions sports sunglass brands.  The most commonly recognized brand was Oakley in which 61.8 percent of respondents said they were familiar with the brand. Respondents who had played an “Extreme sport,” such as ATV Riding, in the past year were especially likely to recognize Oakley (79.4 percent).  The same was true for snow based sports, such as snowboarding, in which 77.6 percent said they recognized Oakley.  Quiksilver was also a brand that was recognized prevalently by respondents. Slightly over 33 percent of respondents said they recognized Quiksilver, with younger respondents being more likely to recognize it (44.3 percent) along with respondents who said they participated in a winter sport in the past year (54.5 percent).  Under Armour was another highly recognized brand (48.2 percent of respondents, especially among extreme sports players). 

There were some brands which had a somewhat lower recognition rate among the general respondent, but had a significantly larger recognition among respondents that played particular types of action sports.  Spy, for example, was recognized by just 6.3 percent of all respondents but was recognized by 20 percent of respondents who had participated in a winter sport in the past year.  Similar occurrences happened with brands such as Dragon (3.9 percent familiarity with all respondents and 10 percent familiarity among extreme sport players), Electric (2.3 percent familiarity among all respondents and 8.0 percent among winter sports players) and Von Zipper (2.9 percent familiarity among all respondents and 10.5 percent familiarity among winter sports players).

Less than thirteen percent of respondents said they had purchased sunglasses or goggles specifically to be used for action sports activities.  Younger respondents and male respondents were more likely than older respondents and females to have ever purchased action sports sunglasses.  Fifteen percent of younger adults and 18.6 percent of men had purchased action sports sunglasses while only 10.4 percent of older adults and 8.4 percent of women had.  Once again region played a significant role in action sports sunglass purchase incidence – with 10.6 percent of respondents from the Midwest saying they had purchased action sports sunglasses and 14.0 percent of respondents in the Mountain Pacific region saying they had.  It is also no surprise that respondents who played action sports in the past year were far more likely to have purchased action sports sunglasses than those that had not.  Respondents that played any kind of mountain sport in the past year were the most likely to have purchased action sport sunglasses or goggles, with 44.6 percent saying they had done so.  Water sports players also were more likely than other respondents to purchase action sports sunglasses, with 23.2 percent saying they had done so.

The majority (70.4 percent) of respondents that had purchased action sports sunglasses said their sunglasses were polarized.  It is no surprise that respondents that had recently played water sports were most likely to have purchased polarized action sports sunglasses (76.3 percent).  Purchasing sunglasses that had a hydrophobic lens treatment was also relatively common.  Among action sports sunglass purchasers, 29.4 percent had purchased sunglasses with a hydrophobic lens treatment.  This was especially common among winter sport participants, of whom 41.0 percent had done so.  Over sixteen percent of action sports sunglass purchasers said they purchased sunglasses that were photochromic.  Around 15 percent of action sports sunglass purchasers said they had purchased their action sports sunglasses with Rx lenses.  This is slightly higher than the general population of Rx sun purchasers, which is about 11 percent.

Data in this article was compiled from  a custom VisionWatch study, the large scale continuous research study conducted by The Vision Council. VisionWatch contains useful industry data on lenses, frames, sunglasses, reading glasses, LASIK, contact lenses and eye exams. For additional information, please contact Steve Kodey at 703-740-1095.

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