Contact lens market in Asia booming

PHOTO: Contact lens market in Asia booming

SINGAPORE - Contact lenses are big business in Asia, with the latest quarter sales hitting more than 131 million pieces and raking in more than US$211 million (S$273 million), global market research firm GfK said.

Although positive growth was recorded across all the seven Asian markets data was collected from, the growth was led in particular by Taiwanese and Korean consumers.

The Taiwanese held on to their number one spot as the largest consumers of contact lenses in Asia, buying an average of 14.5 million pieces each month, but the title of the biggest spenders went to the Koreans, who forked out a combined value of more than US$26 million per month.

The other countries were Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and China.

Consumers have been especially favouring silicon hydrogel and cosmetic lenses, with both posting double digit growths in the Asian region, noted Ms Jasmine Lim, Regional Account Director for Lifestyle products at GfK Asia.

Silicon hydrogel lenses are oxygen permeable lenses, which makes them more comfortable and convenient to wear. Cosmetic lenses are lenses that are designed to change the appearance of the eye. These include eye-enlarging and tinted contact lenses.

Sales of cosmetic lenses in Asia grew by 19 per cent during the first nine months of 2011, raking in nearly U$185 million, while sales of silicon hydrogel lenses grew 22 per cent in the same period - despite its significantly higher price tag - and brought in US$74 million.

Koreans were the biggest spenders for both types, spending U$96 million and US$23 million respectively.

With the increasing prevalence of contact lens usage, Ms Lim said that consumers are becoming increasingly demanding and sophisticated.

She advised manufacturers to closely monitor the evolving lifestyles and preferences of users, so as to continue introducing more relevant innovative new products.