According to Euromonitor International, sales of sun care products in Western Europe grew 2.1% to top $2.8 billion last year. The UK is the largest market for sun care in Europe at $518.2 million; followed closely by Italy at $479.3 million. Elsewhere, sales reached $426.3 million in France, $328.3 million in Spain and $209.3 million in Germany.
In terms of sales growth, Italy pulled ahead of the rest with a 3.9% rise in 2016, while Spain and the UK managed just 1.5% and 1% increases, respectively. The slow sales growth can probably be traced back to changing consumer habits and Europeans’ use of moisturizers containing sun protection. Kantar Worldpanel reports that 21% of Spanish and 19% of UK consumers use an SPF moisturizer, compared to an average of 12% for all Western Europeans. By contrast, Italian consumers are far less engaged and just 7% opt for an SPF moisturizer.
Cancer Concerns Fuel Sales
There is strong evidence that Europeans are increasingly more mindful of the need to protect their skin against harmful rays. As a result, more consumers opt for high SPF formulations. Mintel’s 2015 research into the UK sun care market showed that 45% of adults used sun protection with a high SPF in the past 12 months, compared with 42% in the previous year. Roshida Khanom, a senior beauty and personal care analyst with Mintel, attributes this to a high level of media attention surrounding rising skin cancer rates in early 2015.
“Brands can further build on existing educational sun care campaigns by creating advertising that helps consumers to better understand what the different SPFs do and which level is right for them,” Khanom explains.
While instilling the importance of using a high SPF number is paramount, some brands have been adding broader protection claims. IR-A protection was adopted by a couple of niche brands in the past couple of year, including Ladival Advanced Infrared-A Protection System Lotion. Also, Institut Esthederm launched Bronze Impulse Face and Body Spray, which reportedly protects cellular DNA.
Yet, Mintel research suggests that there is still a lot of confusion as to what the various terms mean; for example, 58% of UK consumers consider that high SPF products protect from UVA and UVB rays. This suggests that broader protection claims may not resonate with consumers and that educational initiatives are needed to facilitate understanding.
Claims Add Value
Anti-pollution claims in facial skin care have risen 2.5-fold to account for 10% of all facial skin care products with a UV protection claims, according to Mintel. The trend is gaining traction in sun care, especially among premium brands. Two multi-protection sun care products for city living are Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution SPF50 and Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart SPF50 Hydrating Shield; both offer a barrier to help prevent the penetration of harmful pollutants.
Another newcomer is Murad Luminous Shield SPF50, which contains grape extract to neutralize UV rays and pollution. It also contains light diffusing microspheres to fill in fine lines and improve their appearance. Anti-aging claims such as these hold sway with consumers looking for more from their sun protection product. “(Anti-aging claims) give consumers more compelling reasons to use sunscreen on a regular basis, instead of reserving usage for hotter summer months,” maintains Khanom.
Meanwhile, interest in natural and organic ingredients in sun care is gaining ground as consumers consider them to be safer and healthier. Mintel also believes that natural sunscreen alternatives will capture younger consumers’ attention. Natural formulations often contain mineral sunscreens (micro zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) and can also include natural ingredients such as oils, waxes or plant extracts.
German brand Lavera launched a new sun care range in 2016 formulated with 100% organic mineral UV filters that it claims are more resistant to sunlight and provide skin with a higher and much safer level of protection than chemical formulations.
However, Khanom thinks brands taking a natural stance will need to dispel any skepticism and be forthcoming about effectiveness and safety information.
“A third party approval will effectively back up the claims,” she states.
It may not be an innovation, but centuries-old thanaka from Burma is a natural sunscreen that’s expected to grow in popularity. It is an effective sunscreen agent and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can improve skin health. Khanom believes it could potentially be leveraged across many product categories from sun care to facial skin care to color cosmetics.
At $239.7 million, self-tanning products account for less than 10% of Western European sun care sales, according to Euromonitor International, yet product innovation is fueling consumer interest. As shoppers seek more sophisticated looks and fashion-driven trends, modern self-tanners are expected to do much more than tan the skin. Today, they offer similar skin care benefits to ones found in other types of sun care products. For example, Fake Bake Flawless Coconut Tanning Serum for Face and Body contains coconut oil for its moisturizing and reputed anti-aging properties. St. Moriz boasts salon quality formulations that combine skin care and tanning ingredients in four product types featuring finishes such as fast tan, instant and gradual.
Self-tan and natural are words that are not often used together, but Dr Organic Moroccan Glow Medium Self Tan Mousse is an exception. Described as bioactive and formulated with organically certified and natural ingredients, including argan oil, it promises an even, believable tan that will last up to a week. Another is Lavera Self Tanning Lotion based on 100% plant-based ingredients and self-tanning ingredients derived from sugar.
And there is more to come. The convergence of cross-category technologies will create further opportunities for product innovation in sun care and ensure future sales growth.
About the Author
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 the trends in the UK premium beauty markets. www.thepremiummarketreport.com