In traditional parenting, parents are more likely to consider sun exposure as a useful source of vitamin D, as well as a helpful way in promoting the absorption of calcium. They tend not to take any skin protection measures when taking their children out. Compared with the parents of the previous generation, millennial parents, generation born in the 1980s and 1990s, attach importance in protecting their children against the sunburn, as they developed sun protection awareness since they were young.
Children spend much more time on outdoor activities than adults. The UVB radiation that an average child receives per year is three times larger than an adult. 1 However, compared to adults' skin, children appear to have thinner epidermis and stratum corneum as well as weaker melanocytes and immunity system. Therefore, children's skin is more vulnerable and prone to allergies. Since children and adults have different skin types, their needs for sun protection are also different. Millennial parents are well aware of this difference, so they understand it is necessary to choose sunscreens specifically designed for children.
In this context, children sunscreen is becoming an inelastic demand for parents, as well as a promising growth force of the sunscreen market.
A Rising Market with Considerable Development Potential
According to Bloomberg, China’s sunscreen market accounted for 5.4% of the world in 2006, while in 2020, its scale reached 14.439 billion yuan, accounting for 19.3% of the global sunscreen market and second only to the United States (19.4%). Based on such market performance, the Euromonitor consulting data estimates that in 2020-2024, the scale of China’s sunscreen market is expected to maintain a double-digit growth, and the market size will reach 24.4 billion yuan by 2024. 2
Rooted in such a competitive and stable development environment, the segmented category children sunscreen has been capturing constant attention from skin care brands and entered a period of rapid growth. According to Tmall Global, in the past two years, the number of brands that entered the Chinese market for children sunscreen category grown at double-digit growth rates. In addition, the sales volume of imported children sunscreens via Tmall increased by nearly 10 times in the past four years. 3
Local sunscreen brands in China had a late start, so the R&D and innovation level of brands is less mature than overseas brands. With the improvement on these two aspects, local sunscreen brands are rising rapidly in recent years. However, in terms of the current market share, the Chinese sunscreen market is still dominated by overseas brands by virtue of their technological advantages. 2
Millennial Parents Follow More Delicate and Scientific Rules for Parenting
1. Millennial Parents Express More Needs when Choosing or Purchasing Products
Though the millennial parents become aware of the importance of sun protection for young children, they are prudent to applying the products in direct contact with children's skin. They prefer sunscreen products with simple ingredients and safe formulations. Giving priority to product's safety, when choosing product, millennial parents also have demands for sunscreens could achieve skin nourishing effect other than basic sunscreen effect, and address the needs for sun protection under different scenarios.
Having gained deep insight on parents' needs, Japanese children care brand AIREE is popular in the children sunscreen market. This brand has pioneered Silasoma technique in production, which could effectively prevent sunscreens from penetrating into skin and show stronger sunscreen power with the same SPF value. To provide comprehensive care for children's tender skin, AIREE has launched three sunscreen lotion products for kids with different SPF values - SPF15, SPF30 and SPF50+. Containing substances EXO-P and Citystem, this series of sunscreens could protect children from sunburn, city pollution as well as blue light in different usage scenarios.
2. Millennial Parents Value Scientific Evidence when Choosing and Purchasing Products
A report released by iReseach shows that, "professional consumption" is more likely to be seen on millennial parents. In the research on the factors influencing decision-making, millennial moms are proved to rely more on recommendations from friends, experts and beauty influencers on social media. 4
Being aware of this trend, Baby Elephant, the first Chinese children care brand that launched pure physical sunscreen, has established a multi-form and multi-dimensional platform to link with consumers. They invited well-known doctors to endorse their products and invited bloggers to try the products and make recommendations. They also collaborated with one of the influential health knowledge media Dingxiang Doctor to launch set products. With these promotion methods, Baby Elephant has been consolidating the professional endorsement of its brand. Since 2019, it has been ranking TOP 1 in maternal and children care category on Tmall, and a leading brand of baby care in China for three years.
(Baby Elephant's Products)
Stable and healthy development of the market is inseparable from effective supervision. To ensure the safety of children cosmetics, China havs issued Supervision and Administration Provisions on Children Cosmetics (Provisions) as well as the draft of Technical Guidelines for Children Cosmetics (Guidelines), establishing a separate regulatory framework for children cosmetics. As special cosmetics, children sunscreen products have always been a core category of supervision in this framework. The Provisions require all children sunscreen products to be labeled with children cosmetics' logo, and the draft Guidelines set down stricter requirements for them in three aspects, namely, ingredient use, claims and labeling.
According to the draft Guidelines, the SPF value of children sunscreens shall be determined and the result shall not be less than 2. In addition, the sunscreen agents shall be filled out in product formulas. There should be no more than 3 types of chemical sunscreen agents in children sunscreen and the usage amount shall be lower than that in adult cosmetics.
Regarding claims, it is not allowed for children sunscreen to claim "strong sun protection" and not recommended to have claims that may encourage exposure to the sun, such as "effectively resisting XX hours of UV radiation" or "providing XX times sun protection". If the product claims to be waterproof, the waterproof performance shall be tested according to the claimed water resistance degree or time.
For labeling requirement, precise instructions shall be labeled to ensure that the consumers can use it correctly to achieve the expected sunscreen effect. For example, the application method shall specify relevant suggestions such as the usage amount, the time of application in advance and reapplication, and the contents shall be scientific and reasonable. For children sunscreen spray, they should be labeled with warnings such as "do not spray directly on the face", "please spray on the palm before applying to the face" and "avoid inhalation".
The release of the Provisions, children cosmetics' logo and the draft Guidelines indicates that the regulatory authority is placing growing importance to the further development of the children cosmetics market. Therefore, for cosmetic stakeholders who intend to explore this prospective market, it is necessary for them to pay attention to the requirements of governments in addition to satisfying consumers' needs.