India oblivious to sun safety: 65% of consumers don’t use sunscreen

August 1, 2019

While consumers claim to know the importance of using a sunscreen, new research from the world’s leading market intelligence agency Mintel reveals that as many as 65% of consumers in India* have not used any form of sunscreen in the last twelve months. In fact, a quarter (25%) do not understand the terms used for sunscreens like SPF and PA; meanwhile, 22% of consumers say they do not know what level of SPF is best for them.

Another challenge that the sun care segment in India continues to face is application frequency products. Mintel research highlights that only 24% of consumers use sun care products on sunny days rather than every day and 27% apply sunscreen only when they step out of the house.

Mintel discussed the current and future trends of India’s sun care industry at this year’s Cosmo Tech Expo (22-23 July).

Minu Srivastava, Beauty and Personal Care Analyst, India at Mintel, said:

Sunscreen usage in India is at a nascent stage and can be attributed to low consumer awareness. Not only do consumers not understand the terms used in sunscreen, or the appropriate quantity of sunscreen required for adequate protection, but the concept of reapplication is not clearly communicated by brands. Therefore, even if consumers are using sunscreen, they are most likely not using enough, both in terms of frequency of application and amount of product, to get adequate sun protection.”

“It is important to educate consumers about usage and re-application of sun care products. Brands need clear, educational campaigns about the potential side effects of UV exposure. Impactful imagery, shocking statistics and scientific facts can be used in retail displays and on product packs to grab consumers’ attention and get the message across effectively,” explains Minu.

The blurring of categories with multi-functional benefits

Indian beauty and personal care consumers prefer products that offer multi-functional benefits over having to apply many products. The top five benefits that sun care users look for when buying a new facial or body sun care product⁠ include moisturising (33%), anti-pollution (29%), long-lasting protection (28%), natural ingredients, and brightening/lightening skin (25%). Today, protection against lifestyle stressors is a common theme seen in India along with anti-pollution; 17% of sun care users say they would like to try sun care products that protect from visible lights like blue light from screens.

“With rising pollution levels across the country, some skincare brands are already incorporating anti-pollution claims, but the sun care category seems to lag in this regard. The sun care category is most connected with skin damage, but incorporating anti-pollution and blue light protection claims has the potential to be well-received by consumers. While blue light protection is fairly niche in India, there is an opportunity for brands to educate consumers and gain trust by offering guidance on this topic. These added benefits and innovations can elevate products’ benefits and drive usage. Although, consumers who look for multi-functional benefits will need to be assured that the primary function of sun protection is not compromised,” said Minu.

Mintel research indicates that colour cosmetics represent an opportunity for sun protection claims as 11% of sun care users have used a makeup product with SPF, while 14% are interested in trying sun care products in powder format. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), of all beauty and personal care products launched in India between 2016 and June 2019, 16% of face colour cosmetics like foundation and highlighters, and 9% of lip colour products, carried the ‘UV protection’ claim.

“Our product innovation research indicates that the makeup category is blurring with consumers seeking additional benefits when looking for cosmetics. For example, sun care products in a powder format would serve the dual purpose of sun protection as well as makeup benefits. Brands have an opportunity to offer product segmentation to focus on hybrid products with both skincare and makeup benefits to effectively cater to different usage scenarios and consumer demands,” suggests Minu.

Aftersun creates a whitespace opportunity for beauty brands

According to Mintel GNPD, of the total launches in the sun care category in India between January 2016 and December 2018, only 4.4% of products were designed for aftersun care. While the aftersun category in India is still niche, Mintel research reveals that 24% of sun care users say that they would be interested in trying sun care products with a cooling effect.

“While India has seen a few existing products that claim to soothe skin, the aftersun care category remains largely untapped, accounting for just a fraction of all sun care product launches in India. A whitespace opportunity exists for brands to target non-sunscreen users with post-sun exposure products that offer cooling benefits. Brands can venture into aftersun care products with ingredients that offer cooling benefits, like aloe vera, and highlight claims such as ‘contains DNA repair enzymes’ or ‘helps rebuild the epidermis’ on the pack. These claims need to be backed up with wider marketing campaigns that educate consumers,” concludes Minu.

*3,000 Indian adults aged 18+, February 2019
**July 2018 – June 2019

Press review copies of Mintel’s Skin Protection/Sun care report Indian Consumer 2019 Report and interviews with Minu Srivastava, Beauty and Personal Care Analyst, India at Mintel, are available on request from the Mintel Press Office.

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