SUNNY-SIDE UP

The key word in sun care this year is quantity. The market is seeing more of everything, including more brands in more varieties, from tanning oil to anti-aging sunblock. Due to consumer awareness, sun protection factors (SPFs) have gone higher. Thanks to a proposal in August 2007 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Washington, manufacturers are clamoring to get their photostable ultraviolet

The key word in sun care this year is quantity. The market is seeing more of everything, including more brands in more varieties, from tanning oil to anti-aging sunblock.

Due to consumer awareness, sun protection factors (SPFs) have gone higher. Thanks to a proposal in August 2007 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Washington, manufacturers are clamoring to get their photostable ultraviolet A (UVA) protection noticed.

The proposal calls for a new regulation that sets standards for formulating, testing and labeling over-the-counter sunscreen products with UVA protection. Although the public comment period ended in December, the proposal has not yet been adopted.

If approved, it would introduce a four-star system to rate the level of UVA protection from “low” (one star) to “highest” (four stars). Even without the system in place, every major manufacturer is touting UVA protection, from Hawaiian Tropics' “Sun Sure” technology and Banana Boat's AvoTriplex formula to Coppertone's Broad Spectrum UVB/UVA ingredients.

Meanwhile, consumers are using more of every bottle to prevent skin damage while also buying different types of products to customize their sun care routine.

As for delivery systems, continuous spray is king. “Continuous sprays continue to gain share in the category. We expect them to make up over 35% of the sales this season,” said Maria Brous, spokeswoman for Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla.

“Continuous spray continues to be hot,” added Mary McMillen, spokeswoman for Buehler's Food Markets, Wooster, Ohio.

Most of the major manufacturers are moving toward an aluminum can with a continuous spray nozzle, said Nick Barainca, director of nonfood, Scolari's Food and Drug Co., Sparks, Nev.

In addition, lotions and sticks are being used for sport and children's formulations with natural and anti-aging ingredients like aloe, vitamin C and botanical extracts.

The challenge for retailers is to encompass an abundance of advancements and variety without confusing the customer, industry insiders told SN.

“Even though customers want choices, you can still overdo it,” Barainca said.

Accordingly, Scolari's carries just two main brands: Banana Boat, owned by Energizer Holdings, St. Louis, and Ocean Potion, owned by Sun and Skincare Research, Cocoa, Fla.

A relative newcomer, Ocean Potion works in 19-store chain Scolari's for a few reasons. “Banana Boat started the same way as Ocean Potion, as a small brand. Now Banana Boat has grown up and was bought out by Playtex and then Playtex by Energizer. Ocean Potion was founded by some of the people who started Banana Boat.”

After testing Ocean Potion last year with positive results, Scolari's will have a separate rack with the brand in every store, as well as one for Banana Boat. “For a retailer of our size, it is good to choose companies that help out with ad dollars and promotional money.”

BRAND-NAME BASICS

Scolari's will also carry a few Coppertone products as well as some Hawaiian Tropics items, Barainca said. “We're going to test Hawaiian Tropics since they are owned by Playtex, as well. We are trying to find out if that will lift sales or cannibalize the section.”

The customer base at Bashas', Chandler, Ariz., is very loyal to BullFrog, Banana Boat and Coppertone. Coppertone Waterbabies 45 and BullFrog Quik Gel were the retailer's “two top guns for the past three years,” said Sue Vodika, HBC buyer and category manager.

“We have tried new manufacturers in the past with no success, so we stay away from them now,” she said.

A similar situation exists at Buehler's. “Traditional brands such as Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic and Baby Face continue to sell well, though especially with higher SPFs,” McMillen said.

Of the different varieties of sun care products, such as suntan and self-tanning, sunblock sales continue to grow, again especially in the higher SPFs, she said. “Sun care items are growing faster as a category than skin care items, and skin care items with SPFs are growing faster than those without.”

According to figures from Information Resources Inc., Chicago, for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 30, 2007, overall sun care products in the food channel earned $169.2 million, up 5.1% from the same period last year.

Coppertone, owned by Schering-Plough, Kenilworth, N.J., was the top-selling brand, followed by Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropics and private-label brands. The top-selling combination sunscreen/insect repellent was BullFrog, owned by Chattem, Chattanooga, Tenn., followed by Off, owned by S.C. Johnson & Son, Racine, Wis.; Coppertone Bug & Sun; and Repel Sun & Bug Stuff, owned by Spectrum Brands, Atlanta.

Although the combination sunscreen/insect repellent category represented a small part of the overall category, $2.1 million, it increased by 12%.

MULTIPLE BENEFITS

“As with most skin care products, we see sun care products combining benefits. So a product is not just a self-tanner, for example, but also a wrinkle reducer, while tanning products contain moisturizing properties, and so on,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director, Customer Solutions Group, Mintel International, Chicago.

This is a reflection of consumers wanting customization, said Jim Wisner, president, Wisner Marketing Group, Libertyville, Ill. “They see their personal needs as different from those of other people, so they will buy these combination types of products, which are higher margin than the base products.”

There are a growing number of subcategories, such as sport, waterproof and anti-aging, which makes this an attractive category to manufacturers and retailers, he said. “The job of the retailer is to expose customers to the need for all of these types of sun care. It is not necessarily one-size-fits-all.”

Most of the main product trends in the market this year are being driven by consumers becoming more knowledgeable about the effects of the sun, said Ariel Kern, spokeswoman for Banana Boat.

“We see trends toward higher SPFs, toward products with photostable UVA protection, and toward products designed to be used every day because they are formulated to be lighter and less greasy. Plus, products with skin care benefits, such as moisturization and the use of organic botanicals — aloe vera, vitamins A, E and C — are seeing marketplace success as consumers are looking for every opportunity to improve their skin.”

These concerns are also driving additional use of every kind of sun care product, Wisner said. “With worry over melanoma and the publicity that surrounds it in terms of risks, people want to take preventative measures. For a long time, tan was the operative word, that you could stay out in the sun and tan more deeply. While it still applies somewhat today, the bigger concern is protection.”

Logically, the products that have seen the least amount of innovation have been typical tanning products, Dornblaser said. “It makes sense that products with low SPF ratings designed simply for helping consumers get as brown as possible as quickly as possible have seen the least amount of innovation. It is this area of sun care which has seen the least number of new introductions, as more consumers have been more focused on sun protection and self-tanning.”

With such an abundance of products, some may have to be cut back to only the brands that are selling, Barainca said. “We eliminated No Ad all together. Their concept was sound at first as the low-price leader with a bigger pack for less money. But they eventually priced themselves higher, and that didn't work. So we have been extremely successful with just having Banana Boat and Ocean Potion.”