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Sun Care Radiates Untapped Success

Ursula Horne

Campaigns by manufacturers and government agencies, add drawing attention to the damaging effects that the sun can have on the skin, are coming to fruition. Sun protection products now are being regarded increasingly as a year-round preventive measure rather than as an aid to tanning.

Euromonitor has noted that sun protection properties are becoming increasingly apparent in everyday products such as makeup or moisturizer, facilitating the switch from a seasonal item to an essential daily product. Sporting a year-round glowing tan certainly is more achievable due to developments in self-tanner formulations; celebrities, too, have helped to boost usage by displays of fashionably bronzed skin at public events. However, despite strong growth, there still are plenty of opportunities for sun care to expand further.

User-friendly formulas

Sun protection takes the lion’s share of sales in sun care, accounting for 81% of revenue—a rise from 72% in 2000. Overall, manufacturers have been able to generate interest in sun care by incorporating elements from other cosmetics and toiletries sectors into their existing product lines. Sun protection, in particular, prospered through the addition of skin care properties, whereby sun protection products also acted as antiagers/nourishers or firming products. Such innovations proved highly popular, as these are key growth areas for the industry as a whole. Strong growth also was witnessed in men’s grooming in 2004, and manufacturers expanded gender segmentation into sun care. L’Oréal’s Garnier Ambre Solaire launched sun protectors that were oil and fragrance free, sweat-proof and easy to apply—features clearly targeted at men.

Children’s sun products also had their share of innovation, with high-factor protectors becoming more widely available. Manufacturers also introduced fruity scents and colored formulas to appeal to children and show where the product had been applied. The spray applicator was introduced to the market in 2003, and saw continued success—particularly in children’s products due to its ease of application.

New formats also emerged in adult sun protection during 2004, including Nivea’s launch of Pampering Protection Mousse, which claims to be absorbed more quickly with a light, non-greasy formula that is more user-friendly. L’Oréal, too, proved to be highly innovative during the year with the introduction of Ambre Solaire Clear Protect Spray, a transparent spray sun lotion. The product claims to prevent the white streak marks usually left behind after application, as well as being nongreasy and easily absorbed. Sun care wipes are yet another innovation designed to promote the use of sun protection on the go; one such product was SunX Sunscreen’s, Sunscreen Lotion Towelette SPF30 by CoreTex Products, Inc. The product also claims to act as an insect repellent and moisturizer with aloe vera and vitamin E.

Self-tanners take the limelight

Self-tanning proved to be a key growth area during 2004, particularly in Western Europe and Australasia. Delivery design helped to enhance the effectiveness of products, as sprays and mousses emerged on the market with claims of better and longer-lasting coverage. Products also were characterized by quicker drying times, and color pigmentation that showed where the tan had been applied, thus making it easier to obtain an even tan. The fact that self-tanners enabled the appearance of fashionable tanned skin without the need to sunbathe in harmful rays is another reason for the growth in the sector.

After-sun products managed to generate some growth, as its function became clearer in developing regions and as it combined insect repelling properties or nourishers and firming agents. This generated interest in a subsector that had, before the hot summer of 2003, been slow-moving. Sales soared in 2003, as Western Europeans experienced one of the hottest summers on record and were unprepared for the damage that could be inflicted on their skin. The category also saw significant growth in Latin America, where hydration is regarded as an important element of the skin care regime.

Manufacturers hungry for Latin success

Dynamism for sun care in Latin America can be attributed to growing knowledge of the dangers of the sun, which is promoted heavily by manufacturers keen to increase their presence. Latin America was a particular draw due to the large population base, especially in Brazil, and the hot tropical climate. ABIHPEC (The Brazilian toiletry, perfumery and cosmetic association) was successful in gaining the approval of a decree reducing the Industrialized Product Tax on sun protection from 10% to 0% in November 2004. The successful argument was that sun protectors are not products related to aesthetics or vanity, but to health protection. This clearly reduced the cost of sun protection and raised awareness as to the importance of its use in Brazil. There is a wide variety of products available in Brazil, with Johnson & Johnson alone marketing 25 for the 2004-2005 summer season. During the summer, the company launched the first product designed specifically for dark to black skin types, Sundown Illumine.

Domestic manufacturers were successful in Argentina due to the relatively low unit prices of their products and the fact that Argentines tended to holiday in their own country in the wake of the economic crash.

Complexions dictate fashion

A tan generally is regarded as undesirable in Asia-Pacific, and, therefore, consumers tend to wear very high-factor sun protection. Traditionally, these were not user-friendly, as they had thick, sticky formulas, but developments in SPF50+ products have meant that they are now more easily absorbed and can be used with makeup. The perception of tans also means that self-tanners and after-sun products do not feature strongly in the region, and are, in fact, only present in four of the region’s markets—accounting for less than 1% of sun care sales. Strong growth was achieved for sun protection in Asia-Pacific due largely to the exceptionally hot summer experienced in Japan.

Media messages sink in

A reversal of 2003’s decline in sun care sales was seen in North America in 2004. The hot climate was responsible for increases in sun protection, and self-tanners benefited from media attention that urged consumers to avoid overexposure. North America accounts for 50% (the United States accounts for 46%) of global sales in self-tanners, which also were incorporated into sun protection during the year. Self-tanners provide a safe and increasingly user-friendly alternative for adopting a fashionable tan without damaging sun exposure.

Polarization in Western Europe

The United Kingdom figures as the world’s second largest market (after the United States) for self-tanners, and demonstrated impressive growth in recent years due to advances in self-tanning technology. Manufacturers reduced drying or color development time and eliminated orange skin or the possibility of streaking. An example of this kind of product improvement was Clinique’s Face Quick Bronze Tinted Self-Tanner, which is tinted to let the user catch streaks before the product dries. Additionally, the newer products offer a better scent than previous products, and are delivered in more efficient applicators such as sprays and mousses.

On the whole, Western Europe produced a polarized response to sun care in 2004, with Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and the Netherlands putting in a strong performance, while other northern countries suffered decline. This partly was due to the lack of a good summer after the heat wave of 2003 and the continued preference for sun beds in Germany.

Room for education

Eastern Europe showed solid growth for the fifth consecutive year in 2004, increasing sales by 8%. The most rapid growth in the region was seen in the Ukraine, Romania and Russia, where greater affluence meant that middle and higher income consumers showed an increasing interest in the more sophisticated, premium products. The region, as a whole, remains extremely undeveloped, and there continues to be great scope for education. The majority of consumers prefer to use low-factor sun protection, and have little understanding of the importance of higher SPFs.

In Russia, the dominant market in the region, sun care still is a relatively new sector, with its advent occurring only in the 1990s when multinationals entered the market. Local brands are only now starting to make inroads. Despite being considerably smaller, Poland generates more sales in sun care than Russia, although its market is far less dynamic. Much of the growth in Russia stemmed from self-tanners, sales of which have doubled since 2001.

Cancer societies demonstrate authority

Continued campaigning regarding the harmful effects of the sun has been a major contributory factor to the recent growth in sun care sales in Australasia. A growing number of lobby groups have raised awareness of the dangers of sun exposure, and using sun cream has become a daily habit for many people. The Australian Cancer Society (ACS) actively promotes the use of self-tanning, and the Cancer Society of New Zealand offers a sun protection product that is among the top five brands in the market, and saw significant growth in 2003 and 2004.

Diminished Markets

Sun care remains an underdeveloped concept in most parts of Africa and the Middle East, due to a mixture of culture and economics. In conservative Islamic societies, men and women infrequently expose their skin to the sun, and the majority of sales are to Western tourists and expatriates. What growth was achieved derived from South Africa and Morocco, where rising awareness of the dangers of prolonged exposure to the sun led to increased sales of higher SPF products and self-tanners.

Hidden potential

Despite considerable growth over the past five years, sun care remains one of the smallest sectors within the cosmetics and toiletries industry. Although it appears that messages are getting through to the consumer, there still remains a huge untapped potential for growth. Recent press coverage has suggested that there are two clear consumer groups that have not taken on board the mass of health warnings apparent in the media—men and teenagers. For men, the motive seems to be a “sun protection is for wimps” mentality. Teens, too, continue to tan without using sun protection, perhaps because there are no products on the market specifically designed for them both in terms of packaging and formulation. With teen-targeted color cosmetics and skin care lines proving popular, manufacturers should seize the opportunity to educate them in sun care.

It is worth noting that athletes present another very niche consumer group that are not using sun cream. This is particularly surprising considering that so much of their time is spent outdoors. Coty Inc.’s adidas brand, with its sports heritage, would be the ideal brand to meet the needs of this largely unheard group. Indeed, strong future growth for sun care is anticipated, and monitoring the means employed to encourage uptake among these reluctant adopters will be key in fostering the sector’s growth.

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