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New Dawn for Sun Care

By: Irina Barbalova, Euromonitor
Posted: December 3, 2008, from the December 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • Growth is anticipated to remain solid in the next five years, and the category will continue to outpace the rest of the C&T market.
  • Scientific/medical positioning for the category has helped market growth, and new technologies are also emerging.
  • The recent participation of large multinationals with their higher brand equity justifies higher price positions and supports values across the market.
  • Sales of self-tanning products in a number of markets have been lost to tinted or active moisturizers with bronzing properties.
  • There is strong demand for glamour-aligned brands in both protection and self-tanning, alongside clinical positions.

Long gone are the days when sun care meant getting as brown as possible. Consumers are increasingly aware of the link between UV exposure and skin cancer, and the top end of the market emphasizes protecting skin, rather than bronzing. The category has seen great technological improvements in the last several years, and looks set to push on and achieve further success.

Sun care was the most dynamic category in global cosmetics and toiletries in the 2003–2007 review period, according to Euromonitor International. Growth was partially exaggerated by its relatively low base (total sun care sales generated 2% of global value in 2007), but use of these products is becoming increasingly commonplace. This means that growth is anticipated to remain solid during the next five years, and the category will continue to outshine the rest of the market.

Necessity Primary Driver

Sales have primarily been driven by heightened consumer awareness of the dangers of exposure to the sun. Unlike in any other segment of the cosmetics and toiletries market, use of these products has been driven by necessity and products increasingly marketed with an emphasis on protection. Usage in some parts of the global market has been partly driven by public health campaigns. In Australia, for example, the Slip-Slop-Slap (slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat) campaign has significantly lowered the incidence of the most common skin cancers, and helped grow volume sales of sun care products.

However, in true cosmetics and toiletries style, the emphasis on cancer prevention has increasingly been superseded by a focus on the link between unprotected exposure to the sun and premature skin aging. In a variety of markets, this has changed consumer attitudes toward tanning. International consumer beauty magazines such as Elle and Marie Claire push a fairly consistent line on reader education and the dangers of unprotected exposure to the sun. A 2007 poll by iVillage.com, a women’s lifestyle Web site, found that 53% of Americans did not believe that they looked better with a tan, while 63% stated that a tan does not make someone look more attractive. In fact, an anti-tanning trend has emerged. The number of poor self-tanning products or tanning salons that turn out leathery-looking consumers with orange skin has undoubtedly helped drive this trend, although the tanned look does remain extremely popular.