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Sun care sales have recovered well in 2010 and 2011 following a poor performance in 2009, the year in which the global recession and economic crisis peaked. Value growth fell to 4% in 2009, down considerably from 8% growth registered in the previous year. In 2010, a return to form was seen for the industry, with global value growth of 7%.

Sun care sales recover following consumer cutbacks on foreign travel

The category’s weak growth in 2009 was largely a result of reduced international holiday travel and the further penetration of private label and mass-market offerings in the category’s key North American market, which saw growth plummet to just under 1%. Australasia was an exception, posting stronger growth in sun care due to health fears concerning exposure to the sun.

Sun care comprises mostly sun protection products, which accounted for around 85% of global sun care sales in 2009. All categories were hit as consumers in key markets cut back on their summer holidays. In markets where private label sun care is well established, the idea of a correlation between price and better protection from the sun has been questioned by consumers in recent times, with many now opting for cheaper brands as a result.

Private label sun care performing well in Western markets

Globally, however, there is still much work to be done to convince consumers that private label products are equally as effective as brands. Private label’s share of sun care was still just 6% in 2009 due to this widespread lack of conviction, but also limited availability in many regions. The key regions of Asia and Latin America accounted for a combined 32% of global sun care sales in 2009. North America warmed to private label sun care during the recession, with a rise in share from 9% in 2008 to 10% in 2009.

Sales driven partially by a return to form in North America

With sun care sales of US$1.7 billion in 2010, North America accounted for 21% of the global sun care market. In 2009, the region posted a 1% value decline, which had a significant impact on the performance of the global sun care industry as a whole. The main reason behind the decline in 2009 was that many Americans opted for “staycations” in order to save money. With consumers spending less on travel, sales of sun care products during the non-summer months declined strongly.

In 2010, however, value sales growth in North America rose to 9%. This was driven almost exclusively by sun protection. Very hot weather in North America during the summer of 2010 was one of the main reasons behind the surge in growth. Summer 2010 was the fourth hottest summer on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

North Americans also resumed their holidays in 2010 after staying at home in 2009 as the economy showed signs of recovery.

Outlook: Sun care manufacturers should look to grow sales in poorer countries

As disposable incomes rise for emerging market consumers, sun care will become more affordable to many. The sticking point remains that as long as people do not view it as a necessity category in the way that most consumers in mature markets do, sales in emerging countries will not reach their potential. Consumer awareness campaigns need to accompany any attempt by manufacturers to grow sales in developing countries.

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