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Sports Sunglass Usage among US Adults

In March of 2016, 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 March 2016 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 10,382 respondents, around 82 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 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 84.8 percent of respondents under the age of 45 had participated in a sport in the past year while 79.8 percent of respondents 45 years of age or older had.

Unaided, we asked respondents to tell us what their favorite sports sunglass brand is. The most common brand that was reported was Oakley (22.6 percent of respondents). RayBan was also a common brand with 12.3 percent of respondents saying it was their favorite sports sunglass brand. We also had around 24 percent of respondents who said they didn’t have a preference when it came to sports sunglass brands and about 20 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 22 sports sunglass brands. The most commonly recognized brand was Oakley in which 67.7 percent of respondents said they were familiar with the brand. Respondents who had played a mountain sport, such as rock climbing, in the past year were especially likely to recognize Oakley (79.8 percent). The same was true for road sports, such as moto cross riding, in which 78.9 percent said they recognized Oakley. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they recognized Under Armour, with younger respondents being more likely to recognize it (61.5 percent) along with respondents who said they participated in a “road” sport in the past year (64.3 percent). Quiksilver was another highly recognized brand (34.2 percent of respondents, especially among winter 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 sports. Spy, for example, was recognized by just 7.6 percent of all respondents but was recognized by 22.5 percent of respondents who had participated in a winter sport in the past year. Similar occurrences happened with brands such as Costa Del Mar (8.5 percent familiarity with all respondents and 17.6 percent familiarity among people that participate in “road” sports), Electric (2.2 percent familiarity among all respondents and 10.4 percent among winter sports players) and Von Zipper (3.2 percent familiarity among all respondents and 12.2 percent familiarity among winter sports players).

In general men were slightly more familiar with sports brands than women. There were a few exceptions for this however. One exception was in the case of Quiksilver and its female-oriented brand, Roxy. In the case of Quiksliver, 35.3 percent of women were familiar with the brand and 34.0 percent of men were familiar. It’s no surprise that the split was even more dramatic in the case of Roxy with 29.3 percent of women saying they were familiar as opposed to just 10.4 percent of men.

Some brands tended to have more familiarity in specific regions of the U.S. Spy, for example, was familiar to 15.0 percent of respondents in the Mountain-Pacific region, while only 5.1 percent of respondents in the Midwest were familiar with the brand. Costa Del Mar was a brand familiar to 15.5 percent of respondents in the Southeast, yet only 4.5 percent of respondents in the Midwest region said they were familiar with the brand. Quiksilver, Oakley and Arnette were all more popular among respondents living in the Mountain-Pacific region than they were to respondents living in the Northeast. Stüssy was a familiar brand to 14.7 percent of respondents in the Mountain Pacific region but only 5.1 percent of respondents in the Midwest.

Less than fifteen percent of respondents said they had purchased sunglasses or goggles specifically to be used for sports activities. Younger respondents and male respondents were more likely than older respondents and females to have ever purchased sports sunglasses. Over 18 percent of younger adults and 21.7 percent of men had purchased sports sunglasses while only 11.6 percent of older adults and 8.3 percent of women had. Once again region played a significant role in sports sunglass purchase incidence – with 12.1 percent of respondents from the Midwest saying they had purchased sports sunglasses and 18.2 percent of respondents in the Mountain Pacific region saying they had. It is also no surprise that respondents who played sports in the past year were far more likely to have purchased sports sunglasses than those that had not. Respondents that played any kind of winter sport in the past year were the most likely to have purchased sport sunglasses or goggles, with 44.6 percent saying they had done so. “Road” sports enthusiasts also were more likely than other respondents to purchase sports sunglasses, with 30.0 percent saying they had done so.

The majority (72.6 percent) of respondents that had purchased sports sunglasses said their sunglasses were polarized. It is no surprise that respondents that had recently played road sports were most likely to have purchased polarized sports sunglasses (80.2 percent). Purchasing sunglasses that had a hydrophobic lens treatment was also relatively common. Among sports sunglass purchasers, 23.9 percent had purchased sunglasses with a hydrophobic lens treatment. This was especially common among winter sport participants, of whom 34.9 percent had done so.13.7 percent of sports sunglass purchasers said they purchased sunglasses that had photochromic lenses. Around 15.3 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 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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