The Competition for Leadership when the Market for Progressive Lenses became global


The following article describes the era following the first appearance of progressive power lenses (PPL) which was a period of remarkable sales growth, and tells the story about competition for market share and for market leadership. This period between the end of the 1970’s until the end of the 1990’s were the years after the breakthrough invention by Bernard Maitenaz of Essilor and the launch of Varilux 2. Competition adopted the new concept and using their distribution channels accelerated the penetration of this innovative lens type. Rodenstock and Zeiss in Europe, Seiko and Hoya in Asia and AO and Sola in the USA created new design ideas which improved further the efficiency and comfort of the progressive lenses. Particularly from the middle of the 1980’s with the entrance of Sola with VIP Essilor’s dominance of the PPL market was under fire, particularly in the US.

As a response Essilor renewed the image of its flagship lens Varilux using the Multi Design concept in association with the “boucle dioptrique” development method. This design loop allowed a continuous improvement by direct involvement of the wearer in the optimization process and was a first step to the personalization of the PPL’s . The launch of the Multi Design Varilux Comfort was a turning point in this battle for market leadership.