As with other seasonal products, suncare is an interesting category to research. Will there be a rush to buy and will the shoppers find sufficient stocks? And when should the promotions commence? Or will it be a slow and gradual response where the shopper is of the belief that one sunny day does not mean summer has arrived?
The week we conducted the fieldwork was hot with long, sunny days. We interviewed on a Thursday and Friday and found shoppers were planning for the weekend.
For 55% of the shoppers we spoke to, this was the first time they had bought any suncare products this year. The sunny weather had meant that shoppers had planned to buy before coming into the store, with intention to buy a high 91%. Some were buying for specific reasons - holidays, sports days or outdoor jobs - whereas others had just been prompted by the hot weather and wanted to make sure they had some. These shoppers tended to have children.
The shoppers who had not planned were attracted to buy by the offers on their usual brands, so 79% ended up with a branded product, although one shopper said: “I have read in magazines that the shop’s own brand is just as good as the main brands.”
Some 28% bought a product because they had used it before, 15% were influenced by a recommendation and 13% by the fact the product had the highest factor. Other reasons given were that a product is good for sports, non-allergenic, not greasy, the packaging appeals to kids and it was handy for keeping in a glove compartment.
Brand loyalty is stronger among shoppers with families who felt the product worked well last time they used it so, as it was on offer, why change?
But the high number of offers on the leading brands meant 64% of shoppers did consider other brands.
A third of all shoppers were prepared to leave empty-handed if their preferred brand were not available.
As for the display, 72% said nothing had caught their eye, but just over a quarter said they had seen either the half-price signs or the colour of packs had caught their eye.
Some 72% considered factor level first when buying suncare products, while 14% mentioned price and 14% whether the product was a cream or spray. Factor level was deemed to be the key piece of information closely followed by some reference to UVA or UVB levels. Water-resistant and moisturising attributes were looked for by a couple of shoppers.
A confident 73% of shoppers said there was no information on bottles/tubes they did not understand. However, 27% said they were unsure what the stars meant and a couple never understood the ingredients.
The majority of the shoppers were satisfied with the display and liked the choice. In fact, a fifth felt there was too much choice and too many promotions, meaning they had to take longer to make their decision. Several shoppers felt the display could be better arranged by having the different types of products grouped together, ie after-sun products/soothing products together rather than within the brand. Several shoppers complained about gaps on the shelves.