Weathering the Storm in European Sun Care

By Katie Rodgers, European Cosmetic Markets | March 31, 2009

Sun care has always been a category prone to changeable fortunes and the past year has proved no exception with mixed results across the Big 5. Italy, Spain and the UK all basked in the sunlight of value gains while France and Germany were given the cold shoulder as sales fell in both countries.

Figures from French industry body Febea showed that clouds were gathering over the French sun care market as sales dipped 0.32% in 2007, dropping to $489 million. The direct sales channel took the hardest hit, tumbling 11.6% to $35 million. Even in the traditionally popular pharmacy channel, sales declined 1.2% to $158 million. However there was better news in the mass market, where sales rose 2.5% to $225 million.

Despite some reluctance on the part of the French to wear sunscreen, those who do tend to prefer more protection. Manufacturers have responded to their needs with an array of products. Vichy (L’Oréal), for example, launched Renovated Hydra Milk body and Hydra Cream Face both with SPF50+, while Vichy’s new Capital Soleil Adult Multi Spray contains SPF30. The products are said to be paraben- and fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. Also from the L’Oréal stable, La Roche Posay launched Anthelios XL Spray SPF50+. It contains Senna alata extract, which is said to safeguard the body’s DNA against UV rays. The technology has also been added to three of the brand’s existing SPF50 products.

Under a Cloud

After a dismal 2007, German sun care sales dropped again in 2008, falling 3.4% across the sun protection, aftersun and self-tanning sub-sectors. True, the decline was not as severe as 2007’s 8% drop in value terms but it certainly did little to restore confidence. According to IRI Germany, the German sun care market now totals $218 million and of this, the self-tanning sub-sector was hit particularly hard, declining 7.3% to $33 million.

The decline may have been aggravated by the fact that very few manufacturers launched more than one product in Germany last year, hardly spoiling consumers for choice.

However, if you looked hard enough there was new product development. Aveda, a very popular brand in Germany due to its natural and organic credentials, concentrated on protecting the hair from the sun’s harmful rays last summer. In March 2008 Aveda launched two hero products for hair—Sun Care Hair & Body Cleanser and After Sun Hair Mask. Both reportedly help cleanse and restore hair from the damaging effects of the sun, salt and chlorine, without the harsh chemicals often found in sun hair products. The products combine a unique antioxidant blend with green tea extract, organic sunflower seed oil and vitamin E to help defend and protect the hair from free radicals.

Bella Italia

Italy, on the other hand, had much more success as sales jumped 7.1% in 2007 to reach $470 million, according to data from Unipro. In terms of market share, suntan lotion sales accounted for 78.2% of the market, followed by aftersun (19%) and self-tanners (2.8%).

Launch-wise, the Italians—famous for their love of the sun—were treated to a plethora of product innovations. Italian manufacturer Deborah led the charge in 2008 with Spray Protettivo Capelli, which is said to keep hair shiny and moisturized while protecting against UV damage. Next came Gel Scintillante Esaltatore dell’Ab- bronzatura, an innovative gel that can be applied to tanned skin. Its golden microparticles and golden red reflections are said to make the skin shine with color.

Sunny Side Up

Spanish companies too, reported particularly good results last year. Sales rose 7.4% to $200 million, while volume inched up 1.9% to 16.5 million units, according to data from AC Nielsen. One retail channel not to be ignored was that of pharmacies, which make up a small, but important niche offering more select ranges, often with a higher price point.

One of these more prestige ranges is Coty’s Lancaster sun care line. Lancaster has launched a three-phase sun care program called the SunSlim Body Program. Step 1 is based on two products—Tan Perfecting Smoothing Scrub, an exfoliating product that improves tanning and prepares skin for reducing agents, and Celluli-Breaker Tan Stimulator which is applied at least three weeks before sun exposure to stimulate melanin production. Step 2 consists of Celluli-Burner Tan Booster in SPF15 and SPF30 for sun exposure. It not only protects skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays but also acts to firm and shape the body. Step 3 comprises Celluli-Drainer Tan Prolonger, which is be used during and two weeks after maximum sun exposure to prolong both the tanning and slimming effects.

Fair Weather Friend

Although the UK is not exactly renowned for its sunny weather, consumers do take the issue of sun protection seriously and that is reflected in sun care sales. According to TNS Worldpanel, the UK sun care market overcame the unseasonably poor summer of 2008 to put on 2.2% to reach $373 million. Breaking this down further, sun protection products accounted for 79.3% of the market, followed by aftersun products (11.2%) and self-tanning products (9.5%).

In the premium sector, Estée Lauder launched a new range called Bronze Goddess Skincare Collection. The products adhere to the need for glamour in the sun with sleek yellow packaging and provide broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection that stick to the European Commission 1:3 sunscreen ratio. Products include two products for the face and two for the body in SPF15 and SPF30 variants. As a full goddess range it also includes self-tanning lotions and self-tanning milk for the face and body as well as a firming body créme.

Sunny Days Again?

Weather is one of the few things in life that nobody can predict and bad weather always has an effect on sun care sales. But while 2008 has provided mixed fortunes for the Big 5 countries, it can be seen that sun care innovation is still as diverse as ever with certain key trends emerging strongly—natural sun care protection and higher SPFs to name just two—so let’s hope the skies clear and 2009 proves to be sunny and fruitful for all.

About the Author
Katie Rodgers is editor of European Cosmetic Markets, which is published monthly by HPCi Media Limited. It provides in-depth data and analysis of the European cosmetics and toiletries market. For subscription details contact HPCi Media Limited, Tel: (44) 20 7549 8626. Fax: (44) 20 7549 8622