Marketing best practices on display: How Sunglass Hut became a leader in eyewear

by | Dec 11, 2023 | Public Relations

In a groundbreaking move that resonated through the fashion and technology spheres, Sunglass Hut has forged an innovative collaboration with Ready Player Me, introducing digital sunglasses for avatars in September 2023. Here, customers only need to scan a QR code on the SmartShopper digital screens within various Sunglass Hut retail locations to apply these accessories to their avatars. 

This forward-thinking initiative showcases Sunglass Hut’s commitment to staying at the forefront of industry trends. However, the venture into digital fashion for avatars is just one facet of Sunglass Hut’s multifaceted approach to marketing. Below, we exemplify how strategic partnerships and technological innovations contribute to its undisputed leadership in the dynamic world of eyewear. 

Marketing best practices on display: How Sunglass Hut became a leader in eyewear

Sunglass Hut as a leader in eyewear

Founded in 1971, Sunglass Hut has evolved into an international retail giant, boasting over 3,000 outlets worldwide. In 1998, the brand made a significant move into e-commerce, introducing the ability to purchase sunglasses online through its US website. 

This strategic decision opened up new avenues for customers. Online shoppers can access coveted styles like Versace’s Biggie or Ray-Ban’s Aviator Total Black in the company’s online catalog of women’s sunglasses, which are only part of its broader selection of diverse brands. The inclusion of online-only offerings like Oliver Peoples’ Kierney Sun or exclusive models like Michael Kors’ Academia additionally appeals to customers seeking a purely online shopping experience. Yet, Sunglass Hut has effectively balanced its online presence with innovative drive-to-store tactics, as exemplified by the collaboration with Ready Player Me that links virtual merchandise to physical locations. This engages customers in a unique way and drives foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores, reaffirming Sunglass Hut’s position as a consistent trendsetter in the eyewear retail industry. 

The marketing best practices of Sunglass Hut

  • Innovative use of reality technology

Sunglass Hut’s foray into augmented reality technology demonstrates a keen understanding of evolving consumer preferences. Beyond Ready Player Me, the Sunglass Hut Utopia virtual reality store, developed in partnership with Emperia in 2022, is a prime example of this innovative approach. This immersive online experience combines gaming and try-on technology, allowing customers to virtually explore and try on exclusive summer eyewear from renowned brands. 

Rather than create an entirely new platform, other businesses can start small by leveraging augmented reality to create an engaging customer experience. Whether through virtual try-ons, interactive games, or immersive storytelling, incorporating AR technology can generate buzz around your products across various platforms. 

  • Influencer marketing done right

The brand’s recognition as a finalist for Best Use of Influencer Partnerships at Marketing Interactive’s Hashtag Asia 2021 Awards attests to the success of its influencer marketing strategy. The campaign Shades of Xiao Ming focused on a single influencer, Hepmil Media Group CCO Xiao Ming, whose distinct social media personality focused on wearing sunglasses. Users got to join Ming’s journey as he settled on his new look from Sunglass Hut, and this had a significant impact on boosting sales in Singapore, a market that usually focuses on local brands.  

For brands and businesses seeking to replicate this success, the key lies in choosing influencers judiciously. Consider the quality of an influencer’s followers, ensuring they align with your target audience’s needs so that your collaboration can turn into authentic, attractive connections. 

  • Strategic brand collaborations

Sunglass Hut’s collaboration strategy extends beyond virtual realms to include physical retail spaces. The introduction of Sunglass Hut shop-in-shops at Hudson stores exemplifies the brand’s prowess in strategic collaborations. By expanding its presence in well-known travel retail locations, Sunglass Hut has become an eyewear shopping destination inside travel convenience concepts, enhancing accessibility and strengthening its brand visibility across North America.  

This shows us how forming collaborations that align with the target audience’s preferences can be a powerful marketing tool. Strategic partnerships with organizations of separate, yet similar, niches help reach a broader audience and establish a stronger market presence. 

By embracing these strategies, Sunglass Hut continues to set the benchmark for other businesses aspiring to make a significant impact in the world of fashion retail.

Jesse Bench
Before she was a digital nomad, Jesse Bench worked in marketing for over five years. Today, she spends her days traveling the world and lending her expertise in outsourcing marketing functions by various global businesses.