Sunless tanning: Is there a niche?

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Sunless tanning in APAC

Related tags: Sun tanning

While sunless tanner sales rise in the West, we spoke to Jane Jang, Senior Beauty Analyst at Mintel on why the market remains still in Asia as consumers opt for ‘reverse tanning’ instead.

Although self-tanner sales have stalled in recent years, the rise in popular natural-looking tan launches and hot weather in 2016 has seen sunless tanner and sun protection sales increase by 6%.

Sun care protection: Global interest

Throughout the globe, consumers prioritise protecting themselves against the harmful effects of the sun and the environment. In 2016, Mintel Global New Product Database (GNPD) reported how global launches of skin care products containing claims stating infrared protection have risen to 1 in 4 in 2016 from 1 in 10 in 2011.

Only 25% of consumers report regular use of sunless tanners, announced Mintel in its Sun Protection and Sunless Tanners US 2016 report. With consumers opting for natural and organic items and labelling, US companies are leading the evolution of self-tanner brands, with new launches and product developments focusing on meeting these changing consumer trends.

Natural feel

Embracing natural formulations and adopting healthy messaging are also expected to appeal to consumers concerned about the ingredients contained within sunscreens.

Mintel reports how 20% of sunscreen users believe ingredients contained within sunscreen are unsafe and 10% think the sunscreen ingredients are not safe for the environment.  

TanMeBox prioritises efficiency and convenience by offering an automated purchasing process to its customers, while Cleantan contributes to the customisation trend by enabling customers to personalise their colour and tan by applying as much or as little lotion as required to produce the desired levels.

While global demand remains strong for natural products, and with US brand Tan-Luxe marketing itself as the tanning industry’s first transparent tanning lotion, the market remains still in Asia “despite a series of self-tanner product innovations launched in Western countries,”​ said Jane Jang, Senior Beauty Analyst at Mintel.  

Asia appeal

In Asia, however, producers are not focusing on this area of the cosmetics industry: “Manufacturers for sunless tanners have not fully tapped into the Asian market just yet,”​ stated Jang.

“Some established international self-tanner brands and a small number of indoor tanning salons are currently targeting young Asians who have westernised attitudes towards tanning, especially during the summer season,”​ Jang went on to say.

Skin whitening still remains prominent, with whitening claims in 2016 accounting for 17% of skincare launches in Asia Pacific. These were significantly higher than those in Europe (5%) and North America (6%), Jang went on to report.

While Asia’s beauty market will “see further growth and segmentations in ‘whitening body care’ and ‘after sun care’, some instant sunless tanners can be leveraged to pique the interests of young consumers who are willing to give it a go”​, Jang added.

Tanning in APAC

There is a wide contrast between sun care relating to tanning in the West and skin whitening in the East. 

“The tanning market remains niche in Asia where consumers have deep-rooted desires for fair, pale skin – typically regarded by Asian consumers as the ‘ideal beauty’,”​ Jang emphasised.

In Asia-Pacific (APAC), self-tanning product launches account for less than 0.1% of skincare launches, while it is around 1% in Europe and the US. The tanning market is not forecast to grow further in Asia, however tanning machines with a ‘whitening’ effect have risen in popularity.

“Known as ‘white tanning’, ‘reverse tanning’, or ‘red light therapy’, this trend emanating from South Korea is gaining further traction,”​ Jang goes on to say.

Unlike a regular indoor tanning machine that uses UV light to tan the skin, a whitening indoor tanning machine uses infrared light which boosts collagen and elastin production to help brighten the skin, improve its tone and provide a youthful appearance. 

“‘White tanning’ is not yet considered a mainstream, but this new emerging trend reflects Asian consumers’ demand for fair skin,” ​Jang concluded. 

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