European sun care marketers are slowly winning the education battle with consumers. Even die-hard sunbathers along the Mediterranean coast are starting to realize that sun protection must be taken seriously. Gone are the days when sun worshippers slathered olive oil all over themselves in a bid to deepen their tan.
However, there is still a long way to go. Consumer habits don’t change over night and only now are marketers realizing that if Europeans are to give up on their idea of getting a tan the traditional way, they must offer plausible alternatives.
Unfortunately, the Big 5 sun care markets are very much dependent on the weather, and the increasing availability of cheap flights means that it is no longer the norm to holiday in your own country. Changing working patterns also mean that the Vacances is no longer a guaranteed break for most workers. Whereas once the month of August meant a complete shut down across continental Europe, this tradition is gradually being eroded by the Americani-zation of working patterns and a greater concentration of international firms, which often impose restrictions on the amount of holiday that employess can take at any one time—usually a maximum of two weeks. This means that holidays are now staggered throughout the year. Both retailers and manufacturers, however, have clung to the notion that summer is the time to hawk sun care products and spring sees retailers dedicate a huge amount of shelf space to sun care as manufacturers launch new products to fill this newfound real estate. Throughout the rest of the year, with the exception of specialty products designed for the ski season, sun protection is not widely available in stores and self-tanning products are tucked way back in the body care section.
Sales Fall in France
Despite these difficulties, most of the Big 5 managed to deliver a solid performance for 2005/2006. In France, however, this was not the case. ECM calculations based on statistics from the Federation des Parfumeries estimate that the market dipped by 1.38% in 2005 to $407 million.
The biggest subsector in the market, sun protection, lost 3.56% in value and self-tan dipped 4.06%. After-sun reported a more positive performance, rising a quarter of a percent and baby-specific products were the most healthy, rising an impressive 60%.
Modest Growth in Germany
Germany’s IKW put a more positive spin on the German sun care market, which put on a steady 2.5% in 2006 and IRI Germany valued sun care and after-sun sales at $166 million and self-tanning products to $32 million.
In Italy, the market was decidedly healthy, with Unipro reporting gains of 3.2% for 2005 to $380 million. This growth appeared to be sustained throughout 2006, with Mintel suggesting a growth of 2%, albeit from a smaller base of $375 million to $384 million for the 12 months ending January 2007. Unipro’s figures for 2006 are reported annually at the European trade fair Cosmoprof, but early indications suggest that the Italian market put in good growth overall, which bodes well for the popular skin care and sun care sectors.
In Spain, it was the mass market that saved the day, rising 15% to $127 million in 2005. Selective sun care was considerably less successful, losing 5.6% in value to $22 million.
The UK market was buoyant, thanks to the risk averse Brits and shot up 5% in the 52 weeks ending Jan. 28, 2007 to $250 million. Brits take sun protection seriously, no doubt largely because we’re a pallid nation as a rule, and the sun protection sub-sector was responsible for this rise, as self-tan and after-sun sales dwindled.
Still, instead of wallowing in their misery, sun care industry executives seem to have sat up and taken notice of some of these more disappointing results. In the sun protection subsectors throughout Europe, where manufacturers and marketers have invested heavily in the past, their efforts have undoubtedly paid off and the industry has taken this to heart. Now manufacturers are both keeping up the momentum of the innovation-heavy sun protection subsector and taking on board some of the criticism that has been levelled at ancillary sun care products in the past.
Take the self-tan sector, for example. It is a running joke in Europe that anyone who regularly uses self-tanning products looks like they’ve been guzzling the lurid orange soft drink, Tango, rather than basking in the sun, and manufacturers have finally done something about this. When Johnson & Johnson launched Holiday Skin, a moisturizer with a hint of self-tanning ingredient, we can only speculate whether it knew just how revolutionary this product would turn out to be. Now Unilever’s Dove, P&G’s Olay/Olaz, St Tropez, L’Oréal and stablemate Garnier have all jumped on board and this year it’s the turn of the prestige brands, with LVMH’s Dior launching its own variant. These products really do offer a quick and realistic solution to the tanning problem and have proved very popular with consumers.
It’s not just the traditional tanning brand marketers who have realized that they need to be better and more innovative if they are to convince consumers that self-tan is for real women. Guerlain, for example, is launching an innovative take on its Terracotta bronzing powder in time for the summer season. The powder contains self-tanning ingredient which offers a subtle color that will last beyond the powder’s duration and provide a useful contouring tool for self-tanning pros.
Stablemate Dior is launching bronzing powder in an aerosol spray this month, which will provide immediate color, without the streaks and mess that is associated with the readily available body makeup lotions.
Lancôme (L’Oréal) has also come up trumps and has launched Flash Bronzer Autoabbronzante su Misura onto the Italian market. This is a “made-to-measure” self-tanning product—in that the tinted gel can be seen on application and the company says that the color that you see is the color that you will end up with. If you want a darker tan you can layer on more product until you achieve the color you desire.
Maybelline Enters Sun Care
In the mass market, L’Oréal’s Maybelline has entered the realm of sun care for the first time in the UK and is trading on its makeup expertise to provide several shades of self-tan—just as if it were foundation, so consumers can choose the most realistic and convincing shade.
Sun care marketers are making strides in product innovation—not only is sun protection now available in every conceivable format (mousse, gel, lotion, spray, etc.), it is also available for different age groups, with anti-blemish and anti-aging properties in turn, or special formulations for babies, sensitive skin or for men.
Another trick of the trade is to persude consumers that higher factors don’t mean less of a tan. This is particularly evident in Italy and Spain, where consumers are more likely to pick up an SPF4 than they are an SPF50. Products with an SPF15 or above are now emblazoned with promises to help improve the tanning process. Italy’s Collistar, for example, has developed its sun care range with Unipertan, a complex said to speed up the tanning process thanks to ATP and vitamin B2.
Sun Care for Guys
Men haven’t been left out of the sun care equation either. In Germany, Unilever’s Axe brand brought out Best of the Summer, a face and body lotion that contains self-tanning ingredients and in the UK, Boots has developed a sun protection line designed for men, with a more macho scent in a bid to encourage men to apply sunscreen.
Sun care marketers throughout the Big 5 are working hard to coax the recalcitrant Europeans away from their tanning oils toward adequate protection. The sun care market’s slogan remains “education, education, education,” as incidence of skin cancer is on the rise and temperatures increase every year. But it is best if manufacturers and marketers take a carrot-and-stick approach. Unfortunately, consumers tend to be short-sighted, especially teenagers who are lured by glamorous bronzed limbs without thinking about the distant risk of skin cancer.
Manufacturers and retailers need to drive seasonality out of the market and concentrate on the emerging niches, such as natural products, men’s products and formulas for babies/children if they are to continue the momentum.