analysis by Sheila Eggleston Poor weather may dog our summers but this has barely affected the steady growth of the UK suncare market. Holiday makers take off to exotic and far away places all year round and even here at home the public is being made more aware of the care they should take if their skin is exposed to sun. Manufacturers have tried to satisfy every consumer need by offering a choice of products in a variety of formats from oils, lotions and creams to after sun gels and sophisticated artificial tanning products. Many have revamped and rationalised their ranges this season to concentrate on the bestsellers. The biggest slice of the market is sun protection. Waterproof, sandproof, sweatproof and towelproof have all been considered in npd as well as the trend towards higher sun protection factors (SPF) which continues as people become more aware of their benefits. Own label dominates the market with Boots the major player with its Soltan brand. The company has also moved its No7 cosmetic label into suncare. With some mainstream products as high as £16 each, price is an issue, especially where it rises each time the SPF number does ­ a policy which retailer Asda is against. However manufacturers say these high costs are justified because of the ingredients, and are counterbalanced by promotions and discounts during the summer season. The biggest innovation in the market has been the introduction of sprays. Worth £12.8m, sprays were up 106% year on year, and in volume by 116% [Infoscan, October 2000]. These have particularly appealed to younger consumers wanting quick and easy sun protection solutions. All the major manufacturers have responded to this demand. Laboratoires Garnier group product manager Sarah Marsh says: "Sprays for adults have performed so strongly, we have now moved into sprays for kids." A major breakthrough for the company, which doesn't produce anything below SPF25 for children, has been to produce a children's spray with a light, peachy fragrance and an SPF25. "The filter we use, Mexoryl XL, has been very difficult to get into a spray format for technical reasons, but now we have," says Marsh. Available from March, it will retail at £13.99 for 200ml. In addition, it has launched a kids version of aftersun called Ambre Solaire kids bedtime skin comforter which will be available from April. The company, which moved into children's suncare in 1997, now claims a 50% share of the sector. Children's suncare has been one of the success stories in the market. The sector, worth £7.5m, is up 9% [Information Resources, October 2000], and offers extra profit potential for manufacturers and retailers alike. They have been able to capitalise on pester power to bring in hip, cool and trendy colours and smells in bold packaging specifically aimed at kids This year, Novartis, which distributes Piz Buin and Johnson & Johnson suncare gave the Johnson & Johnson range a complete overhaul. New formulations and packaging have been introduced and it has been switched from a family brand into a kids only brand. The lowest factor is SPF15 and for babies it is SPF40. "Last season Johnson & Johnson did not work in the family category," says Novartis brand manager Lisa Sharratt. "In consumers' eyes it is perceived as a children's brand. We've rationalised the range completely from a 28 strong family range to just six as a kids range." Beiersdorf UK which manufactures the Nivea brand has split its range into sections ­ moisturisers and lotions, protection sprays, children's and sensitive and self tanning. Its best seller is SPF20 sun protection spray. As well as a trend towards higher factors, it says there has also been a skew towards smaller pack sizes. This is confirmed by Infoscan data which shows 100ml-200ml as the most popular sizes and SPF 15-20 the most popular factors. Product manager Melanie Hitchcock says: "Last year the skew was towards large packs but this year we have noticed decreasing purchases of 400ml and increases in 200ml." Value brand Calypso made by Manchester based Linco Care has repackaged its dry oil sprays and reformulated its sun protection lotions. It claims dry oil sprays are proving to be one of the biggest growth areas, encouraging new and reluctant consumers because it is easy to apply. A raft of products are making their debut in 2001, including an aftersun gel, sun protection sprays and 25g handy sun protection packs. The new Calypso coloured roll-on sun lotion for children is designed to be a must-have to take to school. Its pale blue colour makes it a fun lotion for children to apply and keeps parents happy because the colour disappears soon after it is absorbed. This SPF20 retails at £2.99 for 75ml. Novartis' Sharratt says Piz Buin is the Levi's of the suncare market, appealing particularly to men who prefer oil free products. "Our research shows it has more loyal male users and is seen as a trendy purchase," she adds. The range, relaunched last year, will have no new additions this year. After a rationalisation programme it comprises 56 lines. Piz Buin accounts for 10% value share and 6.8% volume share, while J&J has 1.4% value and 1.3% volume. "We need to make sure these lines perform well in the market," says Sharratt. "Last year's innovation was very strong. We are now working on new products for 2002." Last year it launched the Complete range with anti-ageing properties and vitamin E. It is also one of the few companies to include an aftersun anti mosquito repellant, and one that's endorsed by the Swiss Tropical Institute. Trustin Unimerchants took over the distribution of the US brand Banana Boat owned by Playtex just over a year ago. Although Playtex has a 21% share of the $560m US suncare market, Banana Boat is a smaller player here worth just under £2m. Its 2001 range includes Faces sunblock lotion sun protector plus moisturisers, 180ml ultra sunblock spray and waterproof, sweatproof and rub proof Active Sport Spray. Trustin's sales development director Colin Wright says it has had spectacular growth in Boots and made progress in the multiples. Its award winning aloe vera after sun gel has just won a listing in Waitrose. He says: "Bestsellers vary from retailer to retailer, but we have been innovative in offering sun protection for kids which is coloured and in spray formats which makes them more acceptable. "The Cool Colours blueberry sunblock and grape and blueberry foaming mousse are both coloured and scented." It is currently trialling a children's protection pack offering a kids spray, lotion and lip balm in a transparent waterproof bag with a zip top. "It's a one stop shop which could be developed into other areas such as sports and family packs," Wright says. Another buoyant sector is artificial tanning. Better performing products providing realistic fake tans have relegated the streaky look to yesteryear. Novartis claims this category grew 11% over the 2000 season and predicts it will grow 12% this year. Last year it launched National Fake Tan Week which fell the week after Sun Awareness Week, usually held in the first week in June, and it plans to promote self tanning again this year. Laboratoires Garnier's heritage in this market is Ambre Solaire Duo Tan, launched in the UK more than 15 years ago. Ambre Solaire now has eight self tanning products, its latest being Instant Shimmer Bronzer self tanning cream. Retailers and manufacturers hit the promotional trail from March onwards creating sun protection awareness through instore promotions, bogofs and campaigns such as Sun Awareness Week. Laboratoires Garnier has had a link with Marie Curie Cancer Care since 1999, and is an ardent supporter of sun awareness and the charity. It has a £4m marketing spend for 2001 which includes TV, radio, press and the Marie Curie charity, with a further spend on instore demos. Linco Care plans a major media assault this year when a £500k regional TV campaign in June and July will focus on its Calypso dry oil spray, while press ads will focus on its new handy sun protection packs. Total support for the Nivea brand will be £5m this year which includes more than £2m on suncare. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}