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Sport Sunglass Usage among Consumers

In August 2015, 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 sports habits as they relate to sunglasses. The questions were appended to the September 2015 VisionWatch questionnaire that was sent to approximately 10,500 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 10,241 respondents, around 81 percent said they had participated in at least one sports activity in the past year. The most common activity was walking, in which 65 percent of respondents said they had participated the past year. Age and region tended to be the two major factors that split respondents’ likelihood to participate in sports in general as well as participate in specific sports. Younger respondents tended to be more likely to participate in sports than older respondents. We found that around 85.3 percent of respondents under the age of 45 had participated in a sport in the past year while 78.0 percent of respondents 45 years of age or older had.

In general we found that respondents from the Mountain-Pacific region and the Midwest region of the U.S. were slightly more likely to participate in sports than respondents from the Northeast and the Southeast regions. Participation in specific sports was contingent on region as well. Camping, for example, was far more popular in the Mountain-Pacific (28.3 percent of respondents) than in the Northeast (16.8 percent of respondents). Similarly, 22.3 percent of respondents in the Midwest said they had taken part in fishing in the past year while only 15.8 percent of respondents in the Northeast had. Respondents from the Mountain-Pacific regions were more likely to take part in snow skiing and hiking than respondents from the Southeast. Jet skiing was the most common in the Northeast region at 4.2 percent while all the other regions had 2.5 to 3.9 percent of respondents participate in jet skiing.

The majority (75.2 percent) of respondents that had purchased 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 sports sunglasses (81.3 percent). Purchasing sunglasses that had a hydrophobic lens treatment was also relatively common. Among sports sunglass purchasers, 23.7 percent had purchased sunglasses with a hydrophobic lens treatment. This was especially common among winter sport participants, of whom 35.9 percent had done so. Fifteen percent of sports sunglass purchasers said they purchased sunglasses that were photochromic. Around 15 percent of sports sunglass purchasers said they had purchased their sports sunglasses with Rx lenses. This is slightly higher than the general population of Rx sun purchasers, which is about 12 percent.

In order to assess purchasing motivation for sports sunglasses or goggles, a question was added to assess what qualities were the most important/valuable when making a purchase. On a scale between “Not Important At All” and “Very Important”, respondents rated certain features that were valued at the time of their purchase. Almost 3 in 4 respondents stated that comfort was very important. Durability and UV protection were the next most important features for sports sunglasses (about 65 percent for each feature). Mirrored lenses were voted the least important feature when purchasing sports sunglasses by 16.0 percent. Polarization and UV protection were a strong preference for water sports participants whereas comfort was the strongest preference among mountain sports users.

Data in this article was compiled from VisionWatch, the large scale continuous research study conducted by The Vision Council. VisionWatch contains useful industry data on Rx lenses, ophthalmic frames, plano sunglasses, OTC reading glasses, LASIK, contact lenses and eye exams. For additional information, please contact Brin Miller at 703-740-2251.

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