Covid-19, Delayed Travel Plans For Inflation, Ignore Sun Care Sales

Sales of sun care products in Europe have been hit hard in the past two summers. Consumers have been confined to their homes during the lockdown due to Covid-19 restrictions. Only in the spring of 2022 did things start to improve, although a return to pre-pandemic levels is not expected until 2023. Despite these setbacks, sun care brands continue to innovate with exciting new developments in sustainable formulations and packaging as well as the emergence of products designed to deal with Blue/invisible/infrared light, plus possible release that includes probiotic claims.

Back at the start of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that sales of European sun care products suffered a double-digit decline in value year on year, according to GlobalData. The ban on travel abroad meant Europeans were unable to take vacations, and sales of sun care for home use were far lower than would be expected in an average year.

Sales of European sun care products are finally recovering, according to GlobalData, with sales expected to rise 1.7% to $2.77 billion. Italy ($462 million), the United Kingdom ($430 million), France ($366 million), Germany ($291 million) and Spain ($277 million) are the largest sun care markets. By 2023, GlobalData expects a return to 5% growth in the UK, with Germany (3.2%) and Italy (3.1%) also posting gains. Recovery is expected to take longer for France (-1.1%) and Spain (-0.9%).

Europeans are aware of its impact on the environment and make more informed choices when purchasing sun care products. No wonder so many new products make specific environmental claims. Euromonitor International indicated that 4,682 sun care products were launched in Western Europe claiming to be environmentally friendly, 1,364 recycled, 1,006 coral/ocean safety claims, and 877 claims for recycled materials. Euromonitor consultant Amy Rawleson notes that the overconsumption of plastic in the beauty industry is taking center stage, with alternative packaging materials being used by L’Oréal across its La Roche-Posay and Biotherm brands.

“The company teamed up with Albea to produce tubes made of biological and paper-like materials, which entered the market in June 2020,” she explains.

Despite consumer demand for plastic alternatives, “plastic squeezable tubes” grew by the most units sold between 2020 and 2021: plastic remains a reliable and inexpensive option.

“Instead, brands can look to post-consumer recycled resin (PCR resin),” Rawlinson suggests, citing REN Clean Skincare. Their packaging for Clean Screen Mineral SPF30 is made from 50% recycled plastic, while the cover is made from 100% recycled plastic. According to a product claims and positioning study by Euromonitor, claims for recycled ingredients for sun care grew 32% last year in Western Europe.

Mineral sunscreens are becoming increasingly popular, as concerns about the chemicals’ impact on oceans grow. Rawlinson notes that products containing oxybenzone and octinoxate are banned in Hawaii and Thailand due to coral bleaching theories. As a result, Avene reformulated to exclude these ingredients and British retailer Holland and Barrett no longer sells sun care brands that contain sunscreen chemicals.

“There are concerns about the effect of chemical sun creams on sensitive skin and suspicion of endocrine disruption due to some of the ingredients,” she adds.

Examples of coral/ocean sun protection include Boep Sensitive Fragrance-free Sun Cream (Germany). It claims to have a natural mineral filter and calls itself coral-friendly.

Juliette Coyle, Associate Analyst, GlobalData, comments, “It’s also free of parabens, synthetic fragrances, paraffin, mineral oil, and silicone, and is suitable for vegans, thus capitalizing on the desire for natural, eco-friendly formulations.”

All Green People sunscreens claim to be reef safe and contain natural ingredients like green tea, rosemary and edelweiss.

“The Blue Light Sun Cream has become an attractive proposition for consumers who have increased their screen time during the pandemic,” Coyle says.

She cites the brand new Gisele Denis Facial Sun Cream (Spain) with SPF30. It prevents the appearance of dark spots caused by exposure to sunlight, pollution and blue light. Meanwhile, retailer Cult Beauty has a blue-light facial and sun care section on its website. Moreover, awareness of the potential dangers of infrared rays boosts sales of brands such as La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Invisible Fluid SPF50, which provides protection from ultraviolet A (UVA), UVB (UVA) and infrared rays.

“There will probably be demand … now that … consumers are vacationing abroad again,” Coyle says.

The health benefits of probiotics for the gut are well documented and consumers seek probiotic formulations across beauty and personal care products. According to GlobalData’s Q1 2022 consumer survey, 52% of European consumers find probiotics in beauty and personal care products somewhat or very attractive.

“While this claim is not prevalent in the sun care industry, there is an opportunity for brands to formulate products that contain probiotic ingredients and communicate their benefits to consumers,” Cuell affirms.

Meanwhile, Euromonitor noted that claims of probiotics in sun care soared in Eastern Europe, where they grew 34% between 2020 and 2021.

The outlook for sales of sun care products in Europe for 2022 looks muted as consumers remain wary about vacationing abroad. However, other factors are likely to play a role, not the least of which is the impact of the war in Ukraine on rapidly rising energy prices that are driving inflation much higher than it has been for several years. Rawlinson believes that consumers will be looking for more value-for-money bare-bones routines as a result, leading to competition for sun care from skincare and color cosmetics.

“This will also provide an opportunity for suncare to ‘stand out,'” she asserts, citing hybrid suncare/priming products like Supergoop! Glow Screen, or a sunscreen with added skincare benefits, like probiotics, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid.

Imogen Matthews

Headington, Oxford, UK
+44 1865 764918

Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher who comments on trends in the beauty industry. Regularly contributing to many of the world’s leading beauty trade titles, she has served on the Board of Executive Women’s Cosmetics (CEW UK) and won the prestigious Cosmetics Executive (UK) Achiever Award. Founded in 1993, Imogen’s Premium Market Report remains the only in-depth report examining trends in the luxury cosmetics, skin care and fragrance industry.

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