Americans Use Sunscreen, But They Still Want That Tan

The sun protection market has splintered into a sea of products that provides as many services as a showgirl in Vegas.

You can buy sunscreen for land sports and water sports. You can buy sunscreen specific to faces and other body parts. You can get it for babies, kids, teens, men and skin that's already wrinkled. You can get it with a moisturizer or an insect repellent. You can get continuous sprays, hand-held pumps, oils, lotions ... towelettes.

But you can't make people like it or use it. A new report original to Marketing Daily finds that three-fourths of white American adults think they look better with a tan (among non-whites, the number drops to 44.3%).

Younger adults are slightly more inclined to accept pasty beauty: 69% of people aged 18-24 equate tan with beauty, compared with 77% of people whose skin is starting to move south--i.e., those 35 to 44 years old. The online survey of 1,000 Americans over age 18 was conducted by Synovate eNation June 19-20.



"The people in early middle age--these are the ones who grew up with a tan," says Barbara Deradorian, vice president of Synovate Healthcare. "Protecting your skin wasn't a big issue."

They're also more likely to slather sunscreen on their kids than on themselves, and they use sunless tanners more often than other age groups use them--40% versus 29% of the general population. "This is a key target market for sunless-tanning products," says Deradorian.

Despite dermatologists' warnings to protect skin from the sun's damaging UVA and UVB rays, a third of Americans never use sunscreen, the Synovate study finds. And these folks are feeling the pain: According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 33.6% of U.S. adults got sunburns in 2004--up from 31.8% in 1999.

Half of respondents to the Marketing Daily/Synovate study say they use sunscreen "only when I'm going to be outside for a long period of time." Meanwhile, 9.1% use it every day, 15.3% use it several times a week, and 17.8% use it primarily on weekends only.

Parents are much more vigilant about protecting their children's skin than their own: 42% of parents say they apply sunscreen to themselves as often as they do to their kids. But over 70% of parents say they frequently apply sunscreen to their children--with moms and dads professing to be equally responsible. Northeastern parents are more likely to slather their kids than those in the West and Midwest (77.1% vs. 66.8% and 66.9%).

The good news is that sunscreen brand loyalty is relatively high, at 56%. And as the suntan refuses to fade from the beauty landscape, sunless-tanning products are growing in popularity. The Marketing Daily/Synovate study finds that a third of Americans have tried sunless-tanning products, most often for special occasions and vacations.

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