Global, Niche Opportunities Grow for Sun Care

Multifunctionality has been one of the big themes in beauty in the last five years, driven by consumers’ seemingly insatiable appetite for products that save time and money. SPF is practically the norm in skin care and facial makeup.

Thus, traditional sun care has been squeezed, but not as much as one might think. Indeed, given the emergence of a new generation of SPF-touting beauty products, as well as evidence in Western European markets that people are skimping on using sun protection altogether, the global sun care category has actually proven remarkably resilient.

It is true that global growth for sun care slowed in 2013 to around 5%, down from 6% the preceding year. But, sun care has still been one of the beauty and personal care industry’s best-performing categories during the last five years—outperforming rivals skin care and facial makeup, which have both grown at less than 5% annually.

The outlook going forward is promising, not least of which because sun care has barely scratched the surface of innovation-led growth. The tentative rollout of brands that flex their own multitasking benefits—anti-aging, moisturizing and tinting, for example—is a prelude to the category’s probable strategic direction, along with tailored products for babies, young children, adolescents with acne, and even people with tattoos.

The Global Playing Field

Global spending on sun care products totalled a little less than US $10 billion last year, which is double the amount of a decade ago. Two markets, the United States and Brazil, generate annual sales in excess of US $1 billion in their own right, and they will be joined by China in the next five years. Across Asia Pacific and Latin America, there are a cluster of markets showing strong upward momentum for sun care, including Indonesia, India and Mexico.

The big challenge for the sun care category is in reinvigorating Western European markets, where growth during the last five years has been virtually flat. Middle-class consumers in Western Europe are feeling cash-strapped, meaning they likely are buying fewer sun care products, as well as attempting to make the products they are purchasing last longer. To combat this, sun care brands need to be more vocal about the health care benefits of sun care products, touting their UV protection ingredients and formulations.

Additionally, another big challenge is to scale back costs so that sun care brands can be positioned at more affordable price points without compromising efficacy. Budget-conscious consumers want to make sure the products they are purchasing offer them value, so the products need to work well, but formulations may need to be adjusted to help pass on savings to consumers.

Sizing Up the Demographics

Building stronger positions in countries in the midst of baby booms also makes sense. The global baby- and child-specific beauty and personal care market was worth around US $15 billion in 2013, of which sun care accounted for only 5%. Given parents’ natural predisposition to protect the health of their children, baby- and child-specific sun care brands need to target a bigger share of that market.

Currently, there are only four countries in the world—the United States, Brazil, Italy and the UK—where the baby- and child-specific sun care market is worth more than US $50 million a year. In contrast, there are 13 markets where baby- and child-specific skin care is worth more than US $50 million. The latter generates globally more than three times as much value. The sun care category can realistically narrow that gap.

Eyeing Innovation

An infusion of innovation also is an element that the sun care category could use, helping to excite consumers and draw them back to the sun care category’s many benefits. Segmentation and multifunctionality could be the way forward. Ultimately, successful product innovation would help change consumers’ perception of sun care, fostering success for the future.

More in Consumers/Market