Eyewear Profiteering in China: How Much Do Glasses Really Cost?

Eyewear manufacturing and sales have been widely recognized as a profiteering industry. But how much do they actually make?

According to the World Health Organization, 600 million of the 1.4 billion people who are short-sighted live in China. Based on such large numbers, the eyewear industry has continued to see its revenues grow over time, with a market size of RMB 73 billion in 2017 expected to reach RMB 85 billion by 2020.

In Hangzhou, Mr. Wang's wife bought a pair of glasses at a chain store on Valentine's day for him as a gift. The store manager affirmed that the frame of the glasses was made with 18K gold, weighing 9.8 grams and costing nearly RMB 20,000. 

Mr. Wang loved his gift and cherished it dearly.

However, things began to feel a bit odd when the welding of the frame suddenly changed color. Unsure what may have cause it, he contacted the store which replaced the existing frame with a new one. 

And yet, regardless of how many times he would replace the frame, the color continued to change.

There must be something wrong with the quality, he thought. Maybe its not real 18K gold

Price tags in eyeglass stores can vary greatly, although the production costs are generally very low.

In one of our previous articles, our writer covered Danyang, a small town in Jiangsu province known for being the worlds largest production base of eyewear, accounting for 80% of the country's production and 50% of the world's total production.

The city is even rated as a national AAA scenic zone.

If youd like to read it, click the following link:

 Most of China's Sexy Lingerie Comes from This Small Town!

There was a saying "Danyang glasses use jin to sell", refers to is here.
Danyang glass are sold based on their jin, a weight measurement that can be converted to kilos using the following metrics: 1 Jin = 0.5kg

For some shops, production costs are incredibly low: pure titanium frames can cost only RMB 22 to produce; memory metal around RMB 13, and Plate around RMB 22 as well.

The minimum production cost of lenses is RMB 15, shared one of the managers of such stores. It never exceeds more than RMB 50.

In the end, the total cost doesnt reach past RMB 100 for glasses and eyewear produced in Danyang.

If someone visits Danyang to get glasses, theyll be told: Take it to the market and you can sell it for five or ten times the price!"

Many of those workshops are known for their white plates, which bear no factory name nor ID number on their lenses which are based on an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) production process, hence why they dont have their own branding on them.

But after a while, these white pieces will add a particular brands name and logo to become a world-renowned eyewear brand.

Basically, the majority of the high price assigned to each of those pairs of glasses sold in those shops is due to the brand name associated with them, when in fact, there is no real difference between any of those glasses.

One netizen shared his brothers story on social media, who had bought RMB 200 worth of glasses at a big discount for Double 11 (November 11). And when they finally arrived, he realized that all those glasses were the exact same.

Many consumers go to the glasses shop and listen to what the salesman says,  also instinctively assuming that the more expensive the better.

Instinctively, as consumers, we often assume that the more expensive a product is, the more effective it must be. Thats what many of the salespeople working for eyewear stores will try to tell us, but more often than not, that isnt accurate.

Being short-sighted myself, I bought my glasses from Dongmen in Shenzhen, where many stores sell glasses at their wholesale price. It cost me RMB 180 three years ago, and I still use them!

Even after accidentally sitting on them a couple of times, they never broke.

Have you ever bought glasses in China? What were they like and how long did they last?

Let us know about your experience in the comment section below!

Editor: Crystal Huang

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