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Designing Luxury Brands: the Grand Optics Case

By Prof. Diana Derval

By Prof. Diana Derval (Derval Research)

Shawqi Ghanem built Grand Optics, a luxury eyewear empire in the Middle-East, with over 70 outlets from Dubai to Cairo. In addition to a great understanding of their brand target personas, the right malls to be present in, and a flair for the trends that will mark the coming season, Shawqi based the three following strategic decisions, related to positioning, visual merchandising, and assortment, on neurophysiological insights shared by DervalResearch.

To better understand our target Middle-Eastern personas, let’s dig into the neurophysiology of luxury. Why are some people attracted to luxury while others couldn’t care less? Does it simply come down to disposable income? Probably not. Consider Norway: a super wealthy country with multiple resources including petrol. Most men and women casually wear Northface jackets, ready to go trekking. On the other hand, in China people can’t get enough of luxury products from LV bags to Hermès belts.

Research has shown that people counting more dopamine DRD2/DRD3 receptors, and people more influenced by prenatal testosterone, are more into status and use luxury ornaments to serve their urge to climb the social ladder.



A super luxury positioning

The Middle-East is a paradise for luxury eyewear due to the obvious sun, sand (sand erosion encourages frequent replacement of the glasses), the need for status, and the traditional clothing which concentrates differentiation on accessories such as eyewear, bags or watches. 

Measurements conducted by DervalResearch with the help of the Hormonal Quotient® segmentation tool based on the infl uence of prenatal hormones, revealed that the fashionable target personas, both men and women, were clearly very-testosterone driven and eager to buy super luxury products. Grand Optics operated a successful repositioning from luxury to super luxury, switching from premium brands like Rayban to exclusive brands like Tiffany – even proposing golden frames and other products made of
rare and precious materials.

Black and white with a pop of color

Many brands wonder which color to use but the real question is should they use colors at all? Putting Grand Optics brand codes under scrutiny – white to convey the medical care values and orange as the historical brand color – it appeared that a more contrasted and less colorful mix would appeal more to the target personas.

Using the Derval Color Test™, showing different color nuances, DervalResearch discovered that the target fashionable crowd was more into contrast than into actual colors. Typical Zara clients, as opposed to Uniqlo fans. The same pipe transports  contrast information coming from our rod receptors and color information coming from our cone receptors so that people counting more than 39 color nuances are dominated by their rods, tricked into counting the separation lines in between the color nuances rather than the color nuances themselves.

Grand Optics increased the contrast of its visual merchandising, accentuating black and white – favorite Emirati colors you fi nd in the local dress code – adding just a touch of orange for contrast, making the shops visually comfortable places to hang out and buy for their target shoppers.

Customized lenses

Assortment wise, Carl Zeiss, a specialist in corrective lenses, proposes customized lenses that correct the vision exactly in the spots where the eyes need it, rather than simply in the center of the retina. The superior vision correction is particularly beneficial for people with many chromatic aberrations on the retina, such as bumps and holes as shown on the retina on the right.

Given that the price of these customized lenses is three times higher than traditional lenses, and that playing the status and luxury card is difficult in that case as lenses are not visible and hardly showoff material, this could be an certain strategy. DervalResearch performed measurements combining Carl Zeiss i.scription technology with the Hormonal Quotient® (HQ) and discovered that people with a greater need for customized correction due to higher chromatic aberrations also have a more testosteronedriven HQ – like the man whose retina is displayed on the right – while estrogen-driven people – like the man whose retina is displayed on the left – would benefit less from such a solution as they have less chromatic aberrations.


This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2017. Did you like it? Order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2018 here!