Brits are among the world's biggest users of suncare products and the market growth is expected to continue as fear about the growing incidence of skin cancer also climbs, according to a new report from market analysts Datamonitor.
The UK was the 13th largest market in terms of volume sold per head in 2002 - ahead of Germany in 26th place and Australia in 24th. Still, many fail to protect themselves from the sun, and the UK has the second highest number of malignant melanoma cases - the most serious cancer of the skin - in Europe.
The UK suncare market has shown variable growth in recent years, dependent as it is on the weather, notes the report. In 2001, the market value grew by 9.6 per cent - but sales declined by 6.7 per cent in 2002. Datamonitor has forecast a market growth this year of 3.2 per cent, and the current hot weather is likely to drive this figure higher still.
However, Britain's relative position in the world's suncare ranking has declined since 1997, pushed down by rising sales in countries such as Portugal and Greece. "The market for suncare products is unusual," says John Band, author of the report. "Many sun protection products sold in Greece and Portugal are to British and German tourists."
With this factor in mind, Spain's position at the top is no shock. Some 170ml of suncare products were sold for every person in Spain in 2002, compared to 80ml in France and 70ml in the UK.
The report predicts that by 2007, people will be using even more sun cream. The Spanish per head figure is forecast to be 220ml, with 80ml sold per person in the UK and France. Total British spending is expected to rise to £221 million, compared with £176 million in 2002 - an average rise of 4.1 per cent. However the number of malignant melanoma cases is predicted to rise by 9.5 per cent between 2002 and 2010, to over 6,000 cases.
In some parts of the world, the number of people developing melanoma is increasing faster than any other cancer. In the US and Australia, for example, the number of new cases of melanoma has more than doubled in the past 20 years.
"As global temperatures rise, and as skin cancer becomes an ever-more important consideration in tourists' minds, people's behaviour will continue to change," says Band. "Some of the effect will be to boost suncare product sales - but not all of it. Australia is a good example of why not: Australians are certainly aware of skin cancer risks, but instead of putting on sunblock they keep out of the sun."
Datamonitor's report 'The Global Skincare Market to 2007' provides a detailed analysis of skincare markets around the globe. Covering five skincare categories, it includes data on value, volume, distribution, market share, expenditure and consumption plus a full five-year market forecast.