The Sun Care Market

November 9, 2005

Subsegments such as babies, sunless tanning and high spfs help keep the category growing

If consumers didn’t know by now that the sun causes extensive damage to their skin, they probably had their heads in the sand for much of the past 10 years. Magazine articles, news reports and public service messages have been blaring warnings about the damage caused by ultraviolet radiation (UV) for more than a decade. All those messages have certainly paid off for sun care marketers. Consumer concern about UV radiation has proved to be a key selling point for many products. That concern has helped propel sales of high sun protection factor (SPF) products, sun care products for children and babies and sunless tanners.

“The sunless tanning category, along with products for children, should continue to grow,” noted Stephanie Mellen-berndt, product manager, Tanning Research Labs. “People realize how important it is to avoid the sun and sunless tanners have really become a convenience issue. A lot of people just don’t have the time to sunbathe anymore.”

Added Michel Tanguy, senior vice president, marketing, L’Oréal consumer products division, “Sunless is the largest-growing faction of the sun care business because it addresses consumers’ desire to have a tan without sacrificing their skin.”

In addition to higher demand for sunless tanners and products geared especially for children, demand for higher SPF products should continue to climb now that the Food and Drug Administration has pushed back the deadline for publication of the final sunscreen monograph. The original monograph placed the cap on sun protection factors at 30, but marketers insisted that consumers needed more protection. Now that the monograph implementation date has been pushed back to Dec. 31, 2002, more companies are introducing products that provide protection well beyond SPF 30. For now, these new products can include labels such as SPF 70, but once the final monograph takes effect, sun care product SPF claims will probably be limited. FDA is expected to making a ruling regarding the industry’s comments surrounding the sunscreen monograph later this year.

Solid Growth for Several Brands
According to data from Information Resources, Inc., Chicago, sales of suntan lotions and oils rose 6.4% to $515.4 million. IRI tracked sales of these products in food, drug and mass merchandisers for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 31, 2000. As in previous years, Schering-Plough remains the biggest player in the category due to the strength of its Coppertone brand. But Schering-Plough’s sales rose just 3.2% last year, while sales at Playtex jumped 12.7% and Neutrogena’s sales increased more than 19%.

Growth was slower in the prestige segment, according to NPD BeautyTrends, Port Washington, NY. For the first 11 months of 2000, sales increased 3%, the same rate of growth for all of 1999. The top three brands in the category for the January to November period were Estée Lauder, Clinique and Lancôme and the top three SKUs during that time were Estée Lauder’s Go Bronze Self Tanner, Clinique’s Super City Block 1.4 oz SPF 25 and Clarins’ Self Tanning 4.4 oz. Milk SPF 6.

According to Timra Carlson, vice president of NPD BeautyTrends, the total prestige beauty category rose moderately in 2000. Last year, total beauty U.S. department store sales increased 5%, topping $6.8 billion.

Mass Market Leaders
Playtex markets the Banana Boat line of sun care products. During the past five years Banana Boat has consistently grown at twice the category growth rate by meeting consumer needs and offering new and innovative products—products that are technologically advanced with convenient, easy-to-use applications, according to a company spokesperson.

The No. 3 manufacturer in the U.S., Neutrogena (Johnson & Johnson), recorded a sales gain of 19.1%, according to IRI.

Tanning Research Labs, the No. 4 player in the category, enjoyed a sales gain of 7.9% last year, according to IRI data. Ms. Mellenberndt said the company is taking a very aggressive approach to selling and expanding its distribution. “We’re in a huge growth mode right now; we’ve taken over a couple of distributors,” said Ms. Mellenberndt. “We increased our direct service distribution (DSD) and gave them all the tools they needed to carry out sales in the field.”

Among the leading brands, Banana Boat captured the top spot last year, moving ahead of Coppertone. According to IRI, Banana Boat’s sales rose 11% last year to $68.6 million, while Coppertone’s sales slumped 10.3% to $62.7 million. At the same time, however, sales of Coppertone Sport jumped 13.2% to $29 million and Coppertone Water Babies’ sales surged 23% to more than $23 million.

Going Sunless
Although its competitors are making gains, Schering-Plough remains the biggest player in the U.S. sun care category, accounting for more than 29% of mass market sun care sales last year, according to IRI. Schering-Plough will try to build on its lead with the launch of several new products this year.

Chief among them is new Coppertone Endless Summer Sunless Tanning Lotion, which promises to produce visible color in just 30 minutes, compared to two or three hours for traditional sunless tanning products. The product contains a unique, dual chamber pump that Schering Plough executives insist is unlike anything else on the market. Endless Summer contains Hydrosil, a color activator which works in combination with dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and the skin’s own proteins to enhance natural skin tones and create a natural looking color.

The dual-chamber pump separates the Hydrosil and DHA until application. Endless Summer also contains alpha hydroxy acids and special moisturizers to help soften, smooth and hydrate skin.

Playtex, too, has added a new sunless tanning cream. New Banana Boat sunless tanning creme with color indicator contains natural ingredients such as henna to help eliminate streaking and an improved formula to extend the life of a tan.

“The combination of henna and caramel, which make up the visual color indicator, allow the user to see where the product has been applied to prevent streaking,” according to a company spokesperson.

Banana Boat sunless tanning creme is available in two shades: soft medium for lighter skin tones and deep dark for darker skin tones. The self-adjusting color formula lets the user control the shade of her tan by reapplying to increase her color depth. A 3.75-oz. tube has a suggested retail price of $6.99-7.49.

Sun Laboratories, Chatsworth, CA, has introduced Shimmering Ultra Dark, a self tanner that creates a deep tan that lasts for seven days. The product, which retails for $24.50 for 4.5-fl.oz., also helps moisturize skin, according to the manufacturer. Also new from Sun Laboratories is Ultra Dark Self-Tanning mousse.

Keeping Tabs on the Kids
While UV damage can occur at any age, nearly everyone agrees that the bulk (80%) of UV exposure, and ultimately UV damage, occurs before the age of 18. That’s why keeping kids covered has become such an important message that sun care product marketers are trying to convey to consumers. This year, many companies are introducing new sun care products developed specifically for children.

Hawaiian Tropic, for example, has introduced Splash 30 SPF sunblock for Kids, which, unlike some children’s products on the market, contains “no dyes or artificial colors to stain clothes.” Ms. Mellenberndt explained Hawaiian Tropic went that route due to an over-saturation of color products on the market. “Moms might not enjoy all the bad effects (associated with color products),” said Ms. Mellenberndt. “So we went in the opposite direction.”

To help promote the new launch, Hawaiian Tropic teamed up with Gund, a manufacturer of plush toys, to offer consumers free “HT pals.” When consumers purchase Splash for Kids (SPF 30) or Baby Faces (SPF 50), they get a free six-inch bean bag toy. Consumers can choose from a seal, porpoise or whale. Response has been terrific, according to Ms. Mellenberndt. “We’re getting a really good response from drug stores and mass merchandisers—they’ve already reorded twice,” she noted.

Schering-Plough has introduced Coppertone Kids Sport sunblock lotion in SPF 30. The 6-oz. product is an ultra-sweatproof, high performance product that bonds to children’s skin on contact, according to the manufacturer.

More Protection Than Ever
With so many questions surrounding FDA’s final monograph, which isn’t expected until December 2002, marketers are beginning to promote products that provide higher SPF.

Leading the way toward higher SPF protection is Hawaiian Tropic with the introduction of Ozone Sunblock 70 SPF. "We're excited about Ozone Sunblock 70 SPF," said Ms. Mellenberndt. "We experimented in the Caribbean and intended to go national last year, but held back after the monograph controversy. Now that the monograph's been postponed until 2002, we'll keep it out as long as we can. But we will fully comply with the ruling of the monograph when it is made."

Although FDA and some other observers have questioned the value of SPFs above 30, Hawaiian Tropic pointed to a study of fair-skinned people which found that the amount of time before burning is increased from 2.5 hours with SPF 30 to nearly 6.5 hours with an SPF 70 product.

“Ozone Sunblock 70 SPF is for people who need maximum protection. Dermatologists are always recommending high SPF products for their patients,” noted Ms. Mellenberndt. “This is a step above SPF 50 and it gives dermatologists another option for their patients.”

L’Oréal continues to make inroads into the sun care segment following its purchase of the Ombrelle sun care line in 1997. Last month, the company introduced Ombrelle SPF 40 Extreme lotion and Ombrelle SPF 44 for Kids.

“Consumers are increasingly aware of the need to wear sunscreen and are requesting the highest levels of SPF they can get,” noted Michel Tanguy, senior vice president-marketing, L’Oréal consumer products division. “Additionally, dermatologists are recommending higher SPFs to their patients. Ombrelle is the brand most often recommended by dermatologists.”

Ombrelle 40 Extreme lotion contains Parsol 1789. A 4-oz. bottle retails for $8.99. The product is PABA- and fragrance-free and very water resistant (up to 80 minutes), according to L’Oréal.

Schering-Plough is touting the addition of Parsol 1789 in its SPF 30 and SPF 45 products (8- and 4-oz. sizes) as well as Shade Sunblock. The company notes that SPF 45 is the highest SPF in the Coppertone lineup.

“We took the two best-selling Coppertone products and the leading shade products and added Parsol 1789 to them,” said Ms. Agin. “The best selling products now provide the most complete UV protection.”

According to Ms. Agin, Parsol 1789 is easier to formulate with than some physical sunblocks. “We chose 1789 because it provides good long range UV protection and maintains the aesthetic qualities of the product.”

Neutrogena has launched a wide range of oil-free products for 2001. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Oil-Free UVA/UVB Block is available in SPF 30 and SPF 45, Spray SPF 30+ and Stick SPF 30+. According to Neutrogena, all of these products provide effective UV protection along with real skin care benefits that nourish and promote the health and well-being of skin.

An oil shortage is also the key selling point to new Hawaiian Tropic Oil-Free Sport sunblock lotion and Sport sunblock spray. Both products provide SPF 30 protection and are said to be very sweat- and water-resistant.

Convenient Coverage
While high SPFs, products for children and sunless tanners are all important growth categories in the sun care segment, Schering-Plough’s research is also focused on finding ways to make sun protection more convenient.

“Our research has shown that a significant number of Americans use sunscreen only occassionally—if ever,” noted Ms. Agin. “Consumers say they would use sunscreen more often if it was convenient and dried more quickly.”

To meet these consumer needs, Ms. Agin predicted that more sprays and faster-drying alcohol-based products will be introduced to the market during the next few years. In the meantime, Schering-Plough has added several easier-to-use items to its 2001 product lineup.

New Coppertone Kids Trigger Spray sunblock lotion in SPF 30 boasts a “no run formula” that reportedly stays where it’s sprayed. The easy grip, easy-squeeze trigger delivery helps provide fast and convenient sunblock lotion application that won’t drip, dribble or run. According to the company, the product provides UV protection for six hours in and out of the water, making it the longest waterproof protection available in a spray.

But even sun worshippers are looking for aesthetically-pleasing products these days and Schering-Plough is obliging them with new Coppertone Dry Oil tanning spray in SPF 4 and SPF 8. The six-ounce product is said to provide the radiant, glistening quality that oil users want, without the heavy feel and greasiness of similar products.

At the same time, Schering-Plough reformulated Coppertone sunscreen lotion SPF 4 and SPF 8 in a new, lightweight, non-greasy formula that the company insists dramatically improves the skin feel of the product. The fast-absorbing lotion leaves no greasy residue, according to the company, and the products also contain vitamin E and aloe to help prevent peeling and dryness while helping to maintain healthy-looking skin. Schering-Plough has also introduced Coppertone Gel with Parsol 1789 in SPF 15 and SPF 30 variants. The lightweight formula won’t clog pores or cling to hair and is targeted to men who don’t like the residue some lotions leave on body and facial hair.

Sun Laboratories has introduced SPF 2 Glitter sunscreen gel. The coconut scented product is designed for the younger, sun-loving people, according to the manufacturer.

Schering-Plough introduced a sunblock lotion stick SPF 30 to its Coppertone Water Babies line. The easy-to-use sunblock stick makes it easier for moms and dads to apply sunscreen on tough places such as cheeks and ears. Morever, the stick formula ensures that the sunscreen won’t get into the baby’s eyes.

Banana Boat also introduced easy-to-use products this year. New Banana Boat Active Sport is billed as having a hands-free application. A company spokesperson explained that as with other Banana Boat Sport products, the Active Sport Spray delivers effective UVA and UVB skin protection in a waterproof, sweatproof formula. However, the oil-free spray requires no rubbing during application. The consumer just applies the product where he needs protection, such as arms and legs, while his hands remain mess-free. And the quick drying formula absorbs fast, so getting the proper protection won’t get in the way of an active, busy lifestyle, according to the manufacturer.

Playskool Joins the Party
Schering-Plough’s Water Babies is the No. 1 sun care brand for babies, but the line has some formidable competition these days as a variety of marketers try to grab a bigger share of the fast-growing subsegment. One of the biggest newcomers to the category is Playskool Baby Blanket. Last year the company entered the sun care category with the introduction of Baby Blanket Sunblock for Babies.

“The baby sun care category is one of the bigger subsegments in the sun care business, but there are only a few competitive SKUs out there,” explained Mike McAndrews, vice president of sales and marketing for Baby Blanket by Playskool. “We think that there is a terrific opportunity for growth here.”

In addition, the baby sun care segment has the lowest rate of retailer returns in the entire sun care category. When a summer selling season turns out to be cold and rainy, returns can become a sore point for sun care manufacturers.

The Baby Blanket line already includes Sunblock Lotion (SPF 50+) in tube and pump formats and sunblock sticks. This year, the company is adding a sunblock spray (SPF 45+) and Tender Scalps sunblock spray for babies and adults (SPF 45+). All the products are based on zinc oxide and titanium oxide formulas.

“It’s only our second year, but we’re doing incredibly well. There’s a big niche for baby care products,” said Mr. McAndrews. Last year, sales reached $3 million and Mr. McAndrews predicted sales will top $5.5 million in 2001 and jump to $7-8 million by 2002. For now, the company is working on ways to expand distribution and is pushing hard to get into Florida, one of the biggest markets in the U.S.

Although sun care marketers and the medical community have tried their best to get the word out about the dangers of too much sun, there are still too many consumers who refuse to wear sunscreen on a regular basis. But as sun care companies continue to develop more effective products that are easier to use, the number of consumers who continue to get burned by the sun should begin to cool down.

Related End-User Markets:

Related Raw Materials: