Market Overview

Daily Contact Lenses Surpass Monthlies in US Sales, Account for 38% of Market


(POS) data
from GfK shows continued strong momentum for daily
contact lenses, helping to drive overall dollar growth in the US soft
contact lens market. But the number of new contact lens wearers remains
flat overall.

GfK's contact lens POS panel captures sales data from eye care
practitioners throughout the US, providing the industry with a detailed,
consistent understanding of essential trends and emerging categories.

In January 2017, for the first time, monthly sales of daily contact
lenses surpassed those of monthly lenses in dollar volume, reaching
38.1% market share – up from 31.5% in January 2016. In 2012, daily
lenses accounted for just 17.9% of the market.

In the US market, the daily lens segment continues to grow at a faster
pace than any other modality, increasing 21% in dollar volume year over
year. New products and innovation continue to drive daily lens sales
surges; in 2016, 42% of the growth in the daily category was from
product launches in the prior year.

GfK data also shows that the average price of a single daily lens has
increased by over 10 cents since 2012, driven in part by the growing
prevalence of higher-cost multifocal, toric, and silicon hydrogel lenses
within the modality. Daily multifocal lenses alone grew 45.4% in 2016
over the prior year, with more than three quarters (77.9%) of that
growth driven by products launched in 2015.

New wearers needed

The continued momentum in the contact lens market does not mean new
wearers – those who are prescribed lenses for the first time or after a
lapse in use – are flooding into the space. In 2016, new lens wearers
accounted for just over 21% of all contact lens fittings, according to
GfK's FITS panel, which tracks optometrist visits; that figure is down
slightly versus the prior year and is in line with a four-year trend of
contraction. Growth in total wearers was also negative, down 0.3% in
2016 over 2015.

While the daily contact lens segment continues to experience growth
across the board, weekly/biweekly and monthly lenses are progressively
declining or remaining flat in sales. The weekly/biweekly segment was
down 2.8% in 2016 compared to 2015 – following a pattern of consistent
single-digit declines for the category over the past nine years.

The monthly contact lens segment represents a large piece of the market
that has been growing slowly but consistently. Sales increases in the
category were slower than usual in 2016, though, registering less than a
1% rise in dollars over the prior year. The lack of new products
entering the market in 2015 contributed to this slower growth. The
second half of 2016 saw a deluge of new products in this space and could
portend a growth rebound in the coming year.

Toric lenses ready to take off?

Through its FITS panel, GfK measures patient fittings for contact
lenses, using records provided by thousands of opticians nationwide.
FITS data often gives insight into trends months before they appear in
POS data. During 2016, for example, the FITS panel showed more patients
switching to daily contact lenses from weekly or biweekly SKUs
(switching was up 9,9% over 2015); a similar FITS pattern of switching
from monthlies to dailies also emerged, with switching up 12% in 2016
versus 2015.

According to GfK FITS data, toric contact lenses were the only category
to increase in wearers from 2015 to 2016 (up 3.6%). As other lens types
saw growth in daily lenses at the expense of their reusable
counterparts, toric experienced upticks in daily, monthly and weekly
lenses year over year (18.7%, 2.0%, and 1.7%, respectively) – indicative
of a true increase in toric wearers. This pattern, combined with the new
set of toric products slated to release throughout 2017, may aid in
patient retention by supplying the astigmatic patient base with more

GfK's Optics point-of-sale
(POS) panel
in the US captures contact lens purchasing data from
brick-and-mortar opticians, independents as well as large chains. The
company also maintains a FITS panel gathering prescribing information
from optometrists. The two panels in combination provide a unique
resource for manufacturers and retailers, measuring trends in the
industry, as well as new product launch metrics/exposure.

To learn more about GfK's Optics POS and FITS panels, please contact
James Kennedy at

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