The European sun care category has come under attack from other skin care products, including BB and CC creams that have added sun protection to their formulas. These multifunctional products are considered to be just as effective, more convenient and provide extra value for money. As a result, sun protection products are struggling to keep pace with other, faster-growing, categories.
In 2013, Euromonitor estimated growth of 1.4% for the sun care market in Western Europe, valued at $2.7 billion. Italy, Spain and France accounted for just under half of all sales, but have performed sluggishly during the past year. Only the UK posted a gain in sales, up 2.6% to $395.4 million. Germany was the smallest market within the Big 5, as sales rose less than 1% to $218.4 million.
Competition Heats Up
High SPFs in skin care and facial makeup products are becoming more commonplace and are attractive to consumers who dislike the heavier, greasier textures associated with sun protection. Research data from Kantar Worldpanel for the year to September 2013, show that 21% of women in Spain and the UK use a moisturizer with added SPF on a daily basis. Penetration of moisturizers with added SPF is much lower in France (5%), Germany (9%) and Italy (8%), although 11% of Russian and 14% of Polish women include moisturizers with added SPF in their daily skin care regimes. Further analysis reveals that Spanish and UK women are more likely than the European average to use moisturizers with SPF mainly as sun protection, not in order to get a tan.
Further research from Datamonitor’s 2013 global consumer survey reveals that 36% of Western European consumers put a high priority on sun protection benefits in skin care products, against 28% for all global consumers. The question remains whether they use skin care with added SPF instead of sun protection products.
Nicole Tyrimou, a Euromonitor analyst on beauty and personal care, maintains that sun care companies need to educate consumers on the difference between their products and cosmetic products with sun protection as an added benefit.
“If sun care companies want consumers to use their products daily and not only when they are exposed to direct sunlight during holidays or during outdoor activities, they need to differentiate their protection and its efficacy from the protection provided by multi-purpose products,” Tyrimou insisted.
Another point of differentiation that needs stressing is the importance of daily UVA protection, which has not been picked up yet by many sun care brands.
Innovation in Protection
Sun protection holds almost 78% of the European market in value terms and is where sun care players continue to search for competitive advantage through innovation in formats and textures. The latest sun protection launches focus more on cosmetic textures that take away the chore of application that so often deters correct usage.
“Sun fluids with dry touch technology were a breakthrough in the US in 2013 and really addressed a significant barrier for people who found sunscreen too thick and sticky for comfort,” said dermatologist Dr. Sam Bunting, MD.
The technology is becoming more popular in the UK and the newest launch is Piz Buin, which launched Ultra Light Dry Touch Sun Fluid, an oil-free formula that instantly absorbs into the skin, leaving a feeling of weightlessness. As it is dry to the touch, it means no hanging around once it’s applied. Piz Buin Ultra Light Dry Touch Face Fluid is formulated to be a protective base that is light enough that it does not interfere with the user’s daily makeup routine.
“A lot of moisturizers claim to offer sun protection, but I find a sunscreen is the only way to ensure your face is properly protected,” said Dr. Bunting. “Moisturizers often fail to offer the same level of broad-spectrum cover that sunscreens do.”
Leading sun care brand Garnier Ambre Solaire is also launching a dry touch Dry Mist in time for summer 2014. It is formulated with innovative “shaka-shaka” technology consisting of a formulation of mattifying powders, UVA and UVB filters in the lightest possible formula, that needs to be shaken up before applied as a dry, non-oily spray. The mist is designed to melt instantly into the skin with the minimum of rubbing in.
Clarins is also going down the dry touch route with its Sun Care Oil Spray SPF30, which is suitable for both hair and body. It is enriched with a nourishing blend of active plant extracts, including nyamplung fruit (rich in fatty acids and omegas 6 and 9) and senna (rich in flavanoids and tannins to protect cellular DNA from changes caused by UV rays).
Another new technology in sun protection is in wet skin formulations, introduced by Piz Buin in 2013 for its Wet Skin Transparent Sun Spray. This was followed up this year by Garnier Ambre Solaire Wet Skin, which uses hydrophobic water-repelling polymers to help keep the formula from getting diluted in water. They optimize film formation on the skin, even when wet, to create a homogenous water resistant protection barrier.
“With competition running high in sun care, consumer segmentation has become increasingly important,” states Euromonitor’s Tyrimou. “There are now different products available specifically for babies rather than children, for athletes, for extreme sportsmen and for skiers.”
Merck has also launched a Coppertone sunscreen that is specifically for people with tattoos called Tattoo Guard, which protects the tattoo from fading as well as protecting the skin from burning. Euromonitor has also noted products specifically for consumers with acne.
Launching this summer season is Garnier Ambre Solaire Baby in the Shade and is the first sun care product within the L’Oréal group that is specifically designed for babies. It was tested to optimally respect and protect baby’s delicate skin from as young as six months old. The product contains mineral and organic filters in a SPF50+ hypoallergenic formulation.
Product differentiation is vital for sun care brands if they are to stand their ground against increasing competition from other beauty categories. That, and the prospect of a long hot summer, which is the one variable that no one can predict.
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Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher focusing on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles. Every year in April, she publishes The Premium Market Report, focusing on trends in the UK premium beauty markets.