Business

India’s eyewear gold rush

Selling prescription glasses and contacts has never been this hot. At stake is a ready market of hundreds of millions.

Some of ClearDekho’s advertising tactics can make you chuckle.

For brand ambassadors, this three-year-old company partners with local milkmen in Delhi NCR. They are told to wear ClearDekho glasses and introduce the company in households where they deliver milk every morning. In return, the milkmen earn a small commission. The company also sets up eye camps at the strangest of locations. Like a temple where it solicits the vast masses whose feeble eyes can see a god in all her splendour but struggle to read time from a wall clock.

In neighbouring Delhi, Bollywood celebrity Katrina Kaif speaks from countless optical shops saying “I’m hooked”. She’s the brand ambassador for Lenskart, another eyewear company, founded in 2010 and which has raised a total of $186 million in funding from several venture capital investors. This includes the likes of PremjiInvest (the investment vehicle of Wipro founder Azim Premji), TPG Growth and World Bank arm International Finance Corp. Speculation is rife that Lenskart is set to receive another $350 million from Japanese conglomerate and venture investor SoftBank, which will put it in the exalted unicorn club of startups valued at $1 billion or more.

It would be appropriate to say eyewear has never been more visible in India.

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