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A Sun-kissed Segment

Rosemarie Downey, Euromonitor International
  • Sun care is the second most dynamic beauty care category with retail pack sales experiencing a compound annual growth rate of 5.7% 2005 to 2010.
  • Sun protection drives global demand for rigid plastics up 4% in 2010.
  • Lighter product formulations combined with consumer need for ease of application proves a boon for pump and aerosol sprays.
  • Dispensing efficacy intrinsic to tube’s success.

According to Euromonitor International, retail demand for packaged sun care formulations rose a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.7% 2005 to 2010, second only to hair care—up 7.3%. The positive performance of sun care products is due, in part, to consumers’ growing awareness of the need for sun protection—and this awareness is further apparent in the widening array of other skin care and facial cosmetic products on the market that provide substantial ultraviolet (UV) protection for everyday use. Consumers’ awareness of the correlation between sun exposure and the appearance of premature aging skin and skin cancer will no doubt continue to develop, driving product innovation with multifunctional skin care and sun care products becoming more commonplace.

After Sales Drop in 2009, Sales Continue to Rise

Despite heightened consumer knowledge about the dangers of unprotected sun exposure and widespread product and packaging innovation, 2009 proved to be a particularly weak spot for sales of sun care lines, largely impacted by the global economic downturn and the consequent drop in global leisure travel (with the number of leisure trips taken down 3% amidst the peak of the recession).

However, 2010 proved more buoyant, with sun care up 3.7% in packaging unit volume terms to reach 953 million units. A further 4.1% growth in sun care sales is expected in 2011, partly commensurate with consumer concerns about the harmful effects of the sun and further bolstered by the ongoing recovery in the travel industry, with the number of trips made for leisure purposes forecast to rise by 3% in 2011.

Brand owners are continually looking at ways to aid consumers in their sun care use/purchasing decisions, and smart phone apps are gaining in presence. In 2010, core brands such as U.S. sun care brand leader Coppertone launched Coppertone MyUVAlert, a downloadable smart phone app that provides consumers with sun protection information and local UV index forecasts, while L’Oréal’s Instant Beauty de L’Oréal de Paris app enables users to scan bar codes for more information on specific L’Oréal products to help in sun care purchasing decisions, and more such apps are likely in 2011.

Sun Protection’s Impact on Related Categories and Packaging

Within sun care, sun protection remains central to the category, accounting for 85% of all sun care sales in 2010, and rigid plastics in the form of HDPE bottles and squeezable plastic tubes are the leading packaging formats. Western Europe ranks as the leading regional destination for sun protection purchase, accounting for 35% of global packaging demand.

The U.S. remains the single largest country consumer for sun care packaging, with HDPE bottles retaining position as favored pack format for sun protection, though sales rose just 1% in 2010 as pack and dispensing closure developments abound to facilitate product application and dent sales of HDPE bottles. In this vein, continuous spray aerosol cans continue to make particularly strong gains in the U.S. while pump spray fitments on HDPE bottles are serving to slow down the overall fall in U.S. sales of HDPE bottles for sun care.

Product formulation developments have resulted in a number of higher SPF sun protection products, including the launch of Aveeno’s Continuous Protection spray SPF70 product and Neutrogena’s SPF 100 line.

Sun care has had stellar performances in China and Brazil, with retail sales up 5% and 9% in 2010, and rely heavily on HDPE bottles. In China, the traditional aesthetic preference for light skin has manifested in the widespread popularity of skin-lightening products across facial skin care products, and this very specific passion for pale skin offers very good ongoing potential for packaged sun protection lines, especially those that contain anti-aging and skin-whitening attributes. For the same reason, self-tanning products are likely to remain negligible across the Asia-Pacific region, with usage largely remaining centered in Western Europe and North America where sun-kissed skin remains a popular look.

Innovation Through Delivery of Lightweight Formulations; Boon for Products Delivered Via Pump Sprays and Aerosols

The launch of lightweight, non-greasy sun care products that are both easy to apply and absorb into the skin is a clear product formulation trend evident in sun care, and is spurring packaging development. In response to a common complaint that many products are too greasy and difficult to absorb into the skin, particularly about facial sun care products with high SPFs—characteristics that can put people off from using these products on a daily basis—new lighter formulations are being launched. A good example is Beiersdorf’s Nivea Light Feeling Daily Face Sun Fluid.

Across both mass and premium sun care, less viscous sun protection milks and lotions are packaged in HDPE and PET bottles that increasingly employ pump closure mechanisms in place of the more traditional screw cap or flip-top dispensing cap. From 2010–2014, consumer demand for pumps on HDPE bottles is forecast to rise by 6% CAGR as opposed to a far more conservative 1.1% CAGR outlook for the plastic dispensing closure, with developed North America and Western Europe to head up growth potential for pumps.

Developed world regions, led by North America, are additionally showing strong development for sun care distributed in metal aerosol cans. Ease of application is a primary factor of this format’s success. Launches in 2010 include premium launches from Clarins and Clinique in Turkey, and Johnson and Johnson’s Neutrogena sun care line in the aerosol format was launched in Taiwan. Additionally, U.S. brand Hawaiian Tropic recently launched Hawaiian Tropic Kids Sunscreen Clear Spray SPF60 in an aerosol can in 2011, and the format has gained fans for its suitability for use on children.

Sun Care Delivered by a Simple Squeeze Account for 25% of the Market

Squeezable plastic tubes account for 25% of global sun care products, with sales up 6% in 2010 and forecast an equally strong onward development—with retail sales forecast to grow 5.1% CAGR 2010–2014. All world regions have demonstrated good performance of this format, and the dispensing efficacy of the tube has been intrinsic to the success.

Piz Buin Mountain 30mL tube of sun screen, targeting skiers and snowboarders, was an interesting European development in 2010. The product features a dispensing head similar to that on lip gloss tubes to further facilitate application. This is very much an added-value and niche end-use application, but is indicative of the segmentation and added-value opportunities that exist for squeezable plastic tubes in sun care.

Asia-Pacific, led by China and South Korea, is forecast to provide the most lucrative regional volume gains for tube-dispensed sun care through 2014, and further positive development is expected for Western Europe and North America, key developed regions, with the U.S., Spain and France leading growth.

Look to Emerging Regions for Forecast Volume Gains

Heightened consumer awareness will see sun care products move from being seasonal to year-round products.

In volume, global sun care demand is forecast at a healthy 4.4% CAGR growth 2010–2014—with efficiency and efficacy of application likely to continue to be featured in packaging advances to simplify product application. Leading packaging formats of the HDPE bottle and squeezable plastic tubes will lead volume gains, while lesser used aerosol cans continue to gain in stature (forecast for 4.3% CAGR growth through 2014). In absolute sun care volume growth, the dynamism of Asia-Pacific and Latin America will shine through, respectively forecast to show 5% and 7% CAGR 2010–2014. For important added-value growth opportunities, demand will, however, remain strong in the developed regions of North America and Western Europe, particularly pertinent to the development of high-end mass brands and premium sun care lines.

Rosemarie Downey is packaging research manager for Euromonitor International.

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