Tartila / stock.adobe.com
First quarter results are in and the tanning season is well underway. From where I am sitting, 2023 is looking good. In fact, as one of my favourite TV actors, Larry David would say, “Pretty, pretty good!”
After the bounceback bonanza of 2022, I guess there was a line of thought that accepted 2023 could very well see things settling into pre-pandemic levels. But as things are turning out, this is simply not the case. With 2022 proving to be our best year ever – as I understand this was similar for many companies in our sector – I would not be surprised to see 2023 surpass 2022 records!
The indoor tanning industry certainly appears to be a business sector that has shown resilience and growth despite a long list of challenges including the pandemic, impact of the energy crisis, rising interest rates and cost of living crisis for consumers. It is undoubtedly a complex situation that we can see impacting other business sectors differently. But for the indoor tanning industry and to some extent the personal care sector as a whole, I suggest there can be no doubt we are benefitting from the consumer behaviour phenomenon known as the “Lipstick Effect.”
We must continue to use this upward trend in salon footfall as an opportunity to educate and inform about responsible tanning.
A term first coined during the Great Depression in the 1930s when despite widespread economic hardship, sales of cosmetics remained strong and, in particular, sales of lipstick. The idea behind the Lipstick Effect essentially is that during times of financial uncertainty, consumers are likely to feel anxious and even uncertain about their future. A consequence of this is that they will be less likely to invest in big-ticket purchases. However, they will still choose to indulge in small luxuries or activities that make them feel and look good, such as lipstick, or as we are clearly seeing in our sector, a tan.
The Lipstick Effect really is a fascinating example of how consumer behaviour can be influenced by economic conditions and how small indulgences can provide much needed comfort and security during uncertain times. And I have no doubt we are all thankful for this.
But I do not believe the success of our bounceback is purely due to the Lipstick Effect and this was a belief reinforced at SHINE, the UK and Europe’s only dedicated B2B event for the tanning industry. From consumer research content through to salon owners’ and managers’ own feedback from the public, we know for a fact that consumers are not only using tanning beds to tan, they are also using them for health benefits they see for themselves. Whilst we cannot and do not promote health benefits as a cosmetic tanning industry, there can be no doubt that the public now understands, probably better than ever before, the benefits of regular, responsible UV exposure.
This is likely to be another reason why we are seeing the tanning season starting earlier in the year than pre-pandemic times as consumers crave sunshine after the long, dark winter months that we experience in the UK and across northern Europe.
Whatever the reason behind the choice to tan, as an industry we must continue to use this upward trend in salon footfall as an opportunity to educate and inform about responsible tanning. That is good for business and importantly, good for consumers, too!
In the tanning industry since 1982, Gary is Managing Director of the UK subsidiary of Ergoline, and runs Ergoline Plus, the exclusive distributor for a wide range of sunless products and spray systems. He is also Chairman of the Media Committee for the UK’s Sunbed Association & a European Sunlight Association member.
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