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The popularity of tanning beds is growing. That is a fact – a gloriously welcomed fact and one that we as an industry should maximise upon for all the right reasons and irrefutably, in a professional and responsible manner.
Driving this popularity are predominantly those aged 18-25, with recent data by a UK charity suggesting as many as 42% of this age group have used a tanning bed. And it is this age group that we need to connect with, in particular, to ensure they are receiving the correct advice and information about tanning responsibly, thereby helping the industry grow organically and aiding retention of their custom going forward.
Alongside the provision of correct information and protocols in salons, social media is undoubtedly key to achieving this objective and, as mentioned last month, I would love to see our industry commission a globally-blended campaign that takes our established in-salon professionalism and focus on responsible tanning directly onto the platforms engaged with by this age group.
Generally, successful salons will already have a well-honed social media presence and the influence of good content on increased salon footfall is undeniable.
Generally, successful salons will already have a well-honed social media presence and the influence of good content delivering increased salon footfall is undeniable. And for those yet to dip their toes in the social media water, it never is too late! I know of a salon that has just ten videos on their account but one of those has attracted just under 1 million views! Many of this salon’s new customers visited the salon after seeing the video and almost without exception, they were ages 18-25.
Social media influencers are also continuing to drive salon footfall. With many appearing tanned and seemingly on perpetual holiday, their collective millions and millions of followers of course aspire to look just like them; but inevitably, this needs to be achieved via a significantly more affordable route and, as such, the tanning salon firmly ticks that box.
Reaching out toward the other end of the age spectrum, we find an increasing body of published research and subsequent media coverage that surely demands a dynamic shift in the existing erroneous thinking around the long-standing sun-avoidance message. The research speaks for itself: those who have more regular UV exposure and avoid burning live longer than those who avoid the sun.
And so, the alignment of the stars seems to be in play for our industry. Yet, this will not be without challenge nor without need for further education, even within some of our own ranks. A classic example of a message that needs clearer understanding is that UV light is the same, whether from the sun or a tanning bed. There are those who would have our customers, and indeed potential customers, believe that the UV light generated in a tanning bed is somehow different – and not in a good way – to that generated by the sun that reaches the Earth’s surface. This is, of course, scaremongering nonsense from people typically overcome by ideology and self-obsession. We know that, unlike sunbathing in the sunshine, a tanning bed session is a controlled UV exposure designed to tan and not burn.
And this is just one example of the misinformation we need to continue addressing as part of our ongoing education about responsible tanning.
Exciting times ahead, I think, and as an industry we need to ensure the volume is turned up fully to ensure we are heard.
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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