The new VP of marketing at sports eyewear maker Bollé Brands, Chris Abbruzzese has a rich history in the optical arena. At Bollé, one of his main areas of focus is on developing retail programs that are crucial in a time where many brands are dedicating efforts to online sales.
Here, he tells us a bit about Bollé, his new role, and that fresh focus—including how it can help ECPs define stronger business performance.
EB: Please tell us about your own professional background in the sports eyewear arena.
CHRIS ABBRUZZESE: I started my career right out of college working with a family-owned optical distributorship that specialized in premium brands like Ray-Ban and Serengeti. Later, I joined Maui Jim, where I had a 16-year stint and ran global marketing.
I’ve also had an opportunity to spend some time consulting, which put me in contact with some great brands both inside and outside of the optical business. Joining Bollé Brands, which also owns Serengeti and Spy Optics, is really fun as it’s giving me a chance to close out my career the way I started it.
EB: Please tell us a bit about the DNA of Bollé.
CA: This brand has tremendous heritage. It was founded in 1888 in the Alps, a beautiful but unforgiving place if you don’t have good eye protection. That was the genesis of Bollé and at the heart of everything we do today. It’s always been about performance, first, but also about style. I like to call it “Performance With Panache.”
EB: What is the focus of Bollé's new retail program?
CA: This consumer wants an experience, and that includes digital information, but it also includes being able to provide a branded setting where consumers can pick up the product, touch it, feel it, and try it on.
It’s important that digital and physical meet, and that is why retail is always going to be so important for a brand like this. If a company has a retail presence, they typically only see about 20% of their sales online, so it’s imperative we invest in developing our retail partners and give them impactful tools at point of sale.
EB: How can Bollé’s retail programs help eyecare professionals?
CA: Retailers are looking for brands that will support them. Brands that will help drive qualified traffic and convert. We need to be creative about how we reach the consumer, the message we deliver, and how we deliver it. Most brands speak about discounts and what’s covered by the patient’s healthcare plan. We’re going to speak to the consumer about benefits and performance.
EB: Why is sports sunwear + the Bollé brand a solid choice for ECPs?
CA: Bollé, and Serengeti for that matter, are loaded with technology, and ECPs are best equipped to talk technology. We make it easy for a retailer to distinguish themselves with a portfolio of sport-specific eyewear for skiing, biking, tennis, and golf that can’t be found everywhere. Our brands help ECPs stand apart. We’re also available in prescription, which is another great story.
EB: What are some of Bollé’s key initiatives for 2020 and beyond?
CA: Our new EPIC Center, located at our headquarters in Lyon, France, is at the foot of the world’s biggest playground—the Alps—and it’s one of the ways we are able to quickly develop concepts and rapidly turn them into reality.