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Time for Sun Care to Come Out of the Shade

By: Rob Walker, Euromonitor International
Posted: March 24, 2014, from the April 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Beyond education, another big challenge is to scale back costs so sun care brands can be positioned at more affordable price points without compromising efficacy. Small-size travel packs have become popular, but there is a risk they are working against the category. Indeed, in markets such as the U.K., travel packs help foster the notion that, first, sunscreen is only for vacations and second, that sunscreen is something to be used conservatively. These are the opposite of the messages the category should be promoting.

Sizing Up the Demographics

Building stronger positions in countries in the midst of baby booms also makes sense for sun care. The global baby- and child-specific beauty and personal care market was worth about $15 billion in 2013, of which sun care accounted for only 5%. Given parents’ natural predisposition to protect the health of their children, baby- and child-specific sun care brands need to be targeting a bigger share of that market.

Currently, there are only four countries in the world—the U.S., Brazil, Italy and the U.K.—where the baby- and child-specific sun care market is worth more than $50 million a year. In contrast, there are 13 markets where baby- and child-specific skin care is worth more than $50 million. The latter also generates more than three times as much value globally. The sun care category can realistically narrow that gap, but currently, it is an opportunity going begging.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

The time is ripe for sun care brands. One of the world’s biggest sun care brands, Merck-owned Coppertone, is likely to be sold in 2014, possibly to Reckitt Benckiser. That type of high-profile deal could help fast-track innovation in sun care. A move like this would likely hugely benefit sun care, helping it shake up with an injection of new ideas, including in terms of the way sun care brands are advertised and marketed.

Crucially, sun care brands need to find ways to recruit new consumers and get current consumers to use their products more regularly. Segmentation and multifunctionality could be the way forward. Ultimately, successful product innovation would help change consumers’ perception of sun care. It would be little short of a game-changer for the category.

Rob Walker, senior fast-moving consumer goods analyst, Euromonitor International, can be contacted at