Article

TRENDSPOTTING Q&A

THE EB CONVO WITH… BRILLENEYES’ ECKHARD WIRTZ

Eckhard Wirtz, CEO, BrillenEyes

Across the retail market, from hand soap to bacon, private label products are a fast-growing force. In fact, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association, private label in the U.S. grew 4.4% in 2018 to reach $129 billion in overall sales.

How can ECPs get started with a private label program? Here, we catch up with Lake Forest, CA-based BrillenEyes CEO Eckhard Wirtz, whose company (brilleneyes.com) offers varying levels of private label eyewear programs for independent eyecare professionals.

“We need to know a few things from the ECP: target cost, sales price, demographic, inspiration, and their chosen brand name [which is often the business name],” says Wirtz. From that point forward, BrillenEyes does all the work with the ECP’s involvement. “From conceptual to technical drawings, to the first prototype and color sample production, along with the brand DNA—once the ECP signs off on the finished color sample collection, the production begins.”

EB: What is the inspiration behind BrillenEyes?

Eckhard Wirtz: BrillenEyes was founded on a product opportunity to bring European-quality, affordable, high-quality eyewear with a boutique touch to the American consumer. We created our brands to have edge, color, and interesting details to get the end consumer excited about wearing BrillenEyes’ frames.

EB: Why is private label eyewear a good option for independent ECPs today?

EW: It is an excellent way to show the end consumer that the ECPs listen by creating a collection that is based on salability. And, the biggest component to consider is the ability to have a much higher margin on product assortments.

Private label collections give the ECP:

 A vision of growth for their practices because they have their own brand to market and advertise.

 Their own creation—which does not allow the end consumer to price shop this product online or at the local competitors.

 Product quality, because without a licensed brand, you eliminate the branding/royalty costs. The ECP’s own private label brand allows them to pass on high-quality value to the end consumer.

 Financial independence and margin growth, as the ECP can price their private label collections based on their particular market's demands and needs.

EB: What are today’s market factors that make it a great time for private label?

EW: Private label is growing at about 20% annually in eyewear, as an advent of the Warby Parker phenomenon. The end consumer is savvy and understands a “brand name” does not necessarily mean high quality, but it does mean higher prices. Thus, they are looking for new brands that deliver on quality, styling, and pricing.

EB: What is the profit margin on private label products from BrillenEyes?

EW: Private label margins can range from eight to 10 times markup.

—ERINN MORGAN