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Hong Kong optical fair continues its upward trajectory

03/12/2018By Matthew Woodley
Last month’s Hong Kong Optical Fair attracted thousands of visitors, and showcased the latest optometric equipment and trends. MATTHEW WOODLEY was there to relay the highlights from the world-class event.

A record 810 exhibitors from 23 countries and regions attended this year’s fair, in the process attracting in excess of 16,800 buyers to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from all over the world.

The three-day fair, which ran from November 7–9, continued to draw in buyers from emerging markets such as mainland China, Malaysia, The Philippines and Russia, however a surprising number of attendees from mature markets also made the trip. Representatives from the US, Australia, the UK, continental Europe and local areas such as Japan and South Korea were conspicuous in their numbers, and indicated the fair’s growing reputation as a sourcing platform for the global eyewear industry.

Overall, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC)-organised event saw a 4% increase in buyer attendance, which helped justify the emphasis placed on new technologies and high-end brands at this year’s fair.

“Despite the current uncertainty in the global economy, this year’s optical fair confirmed there is still ample demand for eyewear in the market,” HKTDC deputy executive director Mr Benjamin Chau said.

"Despite the current uncertainty in the global economy, this year’s optical fair confirmed there is still ample demand for eyewear in the market,"
Benjamin Chau, HKTDC deputy executive director

“It also highlighted the value the industry places on new designs and technologies that help to reduce costs.”

According to the HKTDC, Hong Kong exported around US$2 billion (AU$2.75 b) of spectacles, lenses and frames for the first nine months of 2018. While the majority of these products were sent to its main markets – the US, Italy and mainland China – Australia is the autonomous region’s fourth largest trading partner in this segment, comprising nearly 9% of its total exports in the first nine months of 2018.

This prominent position is indicative of the greater volume of business Australian companies have been engaging in with Hong Kong, which has seen total exports increase from US$98 million (AU$134.8 m) in 2015, to US$215 million (AU$295.75 m) last year.

Up until September, the US$176 million (AU$242.1 m) worth of goods sent to Australia represented a further 28.1% increase on the same period in 2017. Conversely, in the first ninth months of this year Australian businesses have only exported US$14 million (AU$19.26 m) worth of spectacles, lenses and frames to the region.

The fair

Mainland Chinese companies were by far the largest number of exhibitors on display (344 out of 810) and were mostly located on the exhibition centre’s first two floors. However, that didn’t mean there was a lack of intercontinental variety.

Face A Face

The ‘Brand Name Gallery’ located in the Grand Hall on the third level showcased some of the latest styles and technologies Europe and Japan had to offer.

Independent and up-and-coming brands, such as family-owned Italian spectacle maker Frenk Eyewear and New York-headquartered Blanc & Eclare – established in 2014 by Korean-American K-pop star Jessica Jung – joined a variety of major companies including France’s Morel and Essilor Italia.

Lighter frame materials, such as stainless steel and wood were popular, while cat eye shapes and eyewear featuring colourblocking in a range of different shades featured heavily.

On the technology side, US company Smart Vision Labs had a stand showcasing its telehealth platform and ‘5-minute vision test’, while 3DNA Eyewear displayed its ability to offer on-demand frames that customers are able to design themselves. The Hong Kong-based company’s app allows users to upload a 2D or 3D rendering of their face, before selecting from a range of frames that they can then customise with different materials, shapes, sizes, tilts and more.

Away from the showrooms, a number of different presenters covered diverse topics that ranged from how to effectively target Millennial customers and patients, through to upcoming trends emanating out of the US and Europe.

The in-house optometric conference, with the theme “The Contemporary Role of Optometrists in Primary Care”, canvassed multiple issues including gene therapy for vision restoration and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for eye disease diagnosis. The two-session conference attracted more than 1,000 participants, while GfK’s Mr Fabricio Medeiros also drew a large crowd for his presentation on Asia in the global context of contact lenses.

The interest in contact lenses was obvious, with the dedicated ‘Contact Lens & Accessories zone’ indicative of the increasing prominence organisers and buyers alike are placing on the segment.

Overall, the fair provided a wide variety of stands, displays and presentations for attendees to enjoy, across the whole spectrum of the optometric sector.

Hong Kong Optical Fair Gallery

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