Sunless Tanners Burning Up The Market

The days are getting shorter and moods are perhaps a tad darker, but Americans are as golden as a summer lifeguard thanks to the popularity of sunless tanning products.

With brand names such as Endless Summer, Natural Glow and Sublime Bronze, it's no wonder these products are burning up the skincare industry. According to an industry report from Mintel International, sunless tanning product sales reached $185 million in 2006, up 65 percent from a year ago and representing a five-fold increase from 2001.

Much of the growth comes from new products that have made it easier, faster and safer to spray or rub on a tan of varying shades. This is important, because deep bronzing has faded in popularity. In its place is a preference for a golden tint, according to Mintel--and sunless tanning products are delivering.

Kao Corp.'s Jergens Natural Glow self-tanner is so popular that it ranks No. 3 among all hand and body lotions, according to Information Resources Inc., which does not break out sunless tanners from other skincare products. Sales grew nearly 37 percent to $44.5 million in the 52 weeks ended Oct. 8, 2006. Kao spent nearly $19 million on advertising for Natural Glow from January through June 2006, reports TNS Media Intelligence.



Mintel points to Jergens Natural Glow as a particular success story in the category. When the brand was launched, demand exceeded supply and the product was sold on eBay for a considerable markup.

Johnson & Johnson's Neutrogena brand also is casting a long shadow over the sunless beach, with products such as Micro Mist, Build-A-Tan and Instant Bronze. The Mintel study found that 29 percent of users of sunless-tanning products prefer Neutrogena brands; 10 percent--the next highest percentage---named Banana Boat.

Today's sunless tanning products are easier to apply than previous versions, and they no longer make skin look like it's just been rubbed in Cheetos. The category is getting a halo effect from physicians and groups such as the American Cancer Society, which are discouraging people from baking their bodies and are informing them of the inherent skin cancer risks and wrinkle factor. Mintel found that more than half of product users cite convenience as a reason for using sunless tanners, while 39 percent do so because they are concerned about the effects of sun exposure on their health.

Indeed, ads for sunless products tend to appeal to health issues as well as convenience and vanity. Neutrogena takes advantage of consumers' fears and desires in its advertising by billing itself as the No. 1 dermatologist-recommended brand in sun care. It also has a partnership with the ACS to promote issues related to skin cancer, according to Xtreme Information, a provider of ad-industry intelligence.

Sales of sunless tanners occur at all retail levels. According to IRI, drugstores have more than 42 percent of sales while supermarkets have nearly 30 percent. Mintel surmises that drug stores devote more space to skincare products of all kinds, whereas supermarket have less available shelf space and tend to promote sun-care products on a seasonal basis. (Sunless tanning products are a year-round purchase.) Sales at mass merchandisers are 9.2 percent; and department stores and direct-sales account for 21 percent of the category.

Mintel predicts a rosy future for the category, expecting sales to grow 185 percent to more than $500 million by 2011.

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