Sun care – The heat is on

UV containing skin care and make-up is adversely affecting sun care sales. But the sun care category is innovating to survive. Sun care is increasingly segmented, with products specified by target consumer, target body part, format, application method/packaging, protection type and protection level. Benefits like anti-aging, whitening and melanin enhancing are being added to UV protection products with many boasting multifunctional effects on several levels

Sun care sales are suffering as a result of the surge in skin care and make-up with UV protection. But the category is innovating to survive, says Julia Wray

The sun care category is under attack. The aggressors? An unstoppable army of BB creams, CC creams and UV filter containing skin care and body care products, all of which are tempting consumers away from traditional sun protection.

“The sun care market grew 5.9% in 2012 to $9.1bn, which was a small decrease on growth in 2011 [6.5%],” says Nicole Tyrimou, Beauty and Personal Care Analyst at Euromonitor International. “The last year has been gloomy across a lot of sectors, but sun care has been particularly hard hit because there are now all these other products claiming sun protection competing with sun care in skin care, colour cosmetics and even ingestibles.

“In the past, consumers might have selected skin care with SPF,” she adds. “Now they are coming to expect sun protection as standard from both skin care and colour cosmetics. And in regions like Europe and Asia Pacific, where [skin care and make-up] manufacturers are allowed to claim protection over SPF15, you are now getting products with claims of SPF30 and higher. The result is there’s a danger that the sun care category will become a ‘holiday’ category, or one confined to sports use.”

The sluggish economy in western Europe (responsible for $2.7bn of sun care sales) also negatively impacted the category, as Chris Lindsley, Global Skincare Analyst at Mintel, tells SPC. “Among the European big five, only the UK saw an increase in product launches in 2012 – by 1%. The rest decreased,” he says. “In Italy and Spain, 38% and 39% of consumers respectively said they’d cut back on sun protection purchases and were using leftover product from the previous year and this has affected sales.”

The outlook proved little brighter in North America or Asia, which also experienced a slowdown in growth. The North American sun care market grew just 4.4%, compared with 6.4% in 2011, while Asia’s grew 6.7%, down on 8.6% in 2011.

Australasia was the exception to the rule, exhibiting stronger sales growth in 2012 (5.9%) than in 2011 (1.8%), which Tyrimou attributes to the change in Australia’s sunscreen regulations. “Until recently, SPF30 was the maximum SPF value a sun care product on the Australian market could claim. But from November 2012, the Australian government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration raised the benchmark to SPF50+ and of course this means consumers are upgrading to the highest possible factor,” she explains. “Also, in Australia, colour cosmetics and skin care products are not allowed to label anything over SPF15, which is the maximum SPF claim for a non-sun care product. This limit not only means there is less competition from other sectors, it also means that in Australia it is the sun care brands rather than the skin care ones who are answering consumer demand for multifunctional products.”

In Australia the SPF bar has been raised from 30 to 50+

But the sun care category is not about to surrender market share without a fight. Instead it is evolving and diversifying. “We’re seeing more body specific sun care products – ones for the lips, face, body and hair,” explains Tyrimou. “And as well as body parts, we’re seeing more segmentation by consumer type, format and protection level too. It’s making sun care more multifunctional as a way of adding value.”

As Louise Hardman, Assistant Brand Manager at Piz Buin owner Johnson & Johnson, notes: “People prefer a range of choices because everyone has their favourite. It’s all about expanding that range in a variety of SPFs. Lotions and sprays are our biggest format. But we’re also seeing the introduction of completely new formats. You’ve got mousse spray, you’ve got oil and you’ve got mist. The mousse spray doesn’t tend to go as far as other formats but it is non-greasy.”

“You have to have products that fill every niche,” adds Consultant Dermatologist Dr Sue Mayou. “Some people look for things like Piz [Buin] which lasts for six hours because it’s convenient and some people like transparent sprays because they’re cosmetically acceptable and quite easy to apply. Then there are ones containing a tan accelerator for those who really want to get brown.”

In addition, formulations are becoming more sophisticated, according to Tyrimou. “Creams are more easily absorbed, oils are drier, sprays are transparent, you’re getting products that can be applied to wet skin and ones which dry quicker or last longer between applications,” she tells SPC.

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