So here we are at the end of another action-packed year – how has this happened so quickly? I do, indeed, ask myself this same question every year; but 2012 has truly flown by. And what a year it has been!
Surviving another year in a recession has been a major achievement and whilst a number of companies across many industries have not been so fortunate, we are delighted and very thankful to be alive and kicking! This, in no small part, is a result of my great team and great products. It’s also thanks to the great British public who against all odds, continue to ignore the tirade of anti-tanning histrionics who infuse our media with benign regularity.
A vital part of my job and my role as chairman of The Sunbed Association is to keep abreast of issues and developments that surround all areas of tanning and UV. In previous years, tanning beds have been the focus of many public and commercially funded negative campaigns. As an easy, commercial target with a high number of individuals using them, it has been easy to pin inaccurate and misleading statistics and scaremongering claims on their use.
Whilst this colossal illusion is frustrating on many levels, we have come to realise that the impact is minimised by our industry’s continuously developing high level of professionalism, ensuring end users get the right information and advice about tanning sensibly. People who don’t want to tan wouldn’t use a tanning salon anyway; but for the millions who do, professionally run salons are undoubtedly the places to do so!
So, we must always strive to rebut the skewed science provided as fact, whilst at the same time encouraging the industry to focus on continuing to provide a high level of customer service within a professionally run facility. This year, however, many UK salons found it particularly galling to come under attack by one of “our own”. A tanning brand (albeit a sunless type), invested heavily in an anti-tanning bed campaign, somewhat conveniently forgetting where it started out – i.e. tanning salons! Certainly, this sort of attack we can do without. I feel sure it is not a situation salons in the USA would find themselves in, where sunless and UV tanning work happily alongside each other. But then again, to be fair, sunless and UV brands do generally work well together in the UK, with many salons offering both options to ensure an appropriate service to as wide a customer base as possible.
Whilst a number of companies across many industries have not been so fortunate, we are delighted & very thankful to be alive & kicking!
Regular readers of this column may be aware of my belief that many anti-tanning campaigns focus on tanning beds as a way of securing ongoing funding – i.e. easy media coverage to convince the bean counters that the message is getting through. But perhaps column inches are no longer proving to be enough, as during 2012 we have come across a number of commissioned research studies attempting to determine who and why people use tanning beds.
Under-age use was never a widespread problem in the UK (although it was more prevalent in a handful of locations). We voiced our concerns loud and clear about the potential to push under-age tanning “underground” with the introduction of age-related legislation. We weren’t listened to and now it would appear that, perhaps, the same people claiming to “protect” may be realising they may very well have achieved the opposite.
But let’s finish up on a happier note. Another study questioned over 4,800 individuals in Germany about their tanning bed usage. I can only hazard a guess at the cost of doing this, but no doubt it must have been a considerable amount as all study is expensive. Anyway, analysis of this extensive research identified that people use tanning beds to relax and look good. Really. Guess what? I could have told them that for free!
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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