The UK’s obsession with celebrity is probably second only to its obsession with the weather. Interestingly, the desire to wannabe a celebrity combined with our awful weather this summer has generated a welcomed mini-boom for the tanning industry.
In the U.S., you have the reality TV mega-hit, “Jersey Shore” – in the UK, we have “The Only Way is Essex”, affectionately referred to by its acronym, “TOWIE”. The show follows a group of young, generally good-looking, bronzed guys and girls from Essex, a county in England often inappropriately maligned for the low-level I.Q. of its residents, with their brash, nouveau riche looks and lifestyles. Oh, and as for their accents – well, not quite cockney and not quite like anything else! In certain parts of Essex, rhyming slang is de rigueur.
This unlikely format for a TV show – an endless stream of the same group of guys and girls, wearing the latest designer everything, constantly meeting up at one of a handful of locations, having fun, falling out and always discussing the same topics but perhaps from a slightly different camera angle – has been a huge hit in the UK!
The central characters have turned themselves into celebrities and now some of them even have their own spin-off shows, including one based in Los Angeles. What has further amazed me is that such a clichéd group of Essex youngsters could have such an impact on the British economy. I read with incredulity that the TOWIE show has boosted the British economy by nearly $2.4 billion.
Just about everyone on TOWIE has a permanent tan and whilst they enjoy jetting off occasionally to Marbs (Marbella, Spain to you and me), their love affair with tanning has entered our collective psyche and all things tanning are simply booming. Couple this with one of the wettest summers ever and you can appreciate why the UK’s indoor tanning industry is smiling!
Not content to use one of the established sunless tanning product brands, celebrities are developing their own tanning lotion lines, which seems to be more of a credibility statement than having your own perfume – certainly by the way stock is flying of the shelves, it would appear to be more financially successful! And it’s as though we Brits just can’t get enough of it.
For a while now, many salons throughout the UK have offered a combination of UV and automated sunless spray-tanning.
This business offering makes great sense to my mind, as it maximises the footfall through the salon and with an automated spray-tanning system, there’s no need for additional specialist staff. I predict that with the new generation of automated spray systems, this trend can only continue. Of course, retail lotion sales have always been an excellent opportunity to generate additional revenue alongside UV tanning, but it’s good to see that an increasing range of retail products is being developed to support spray-tanning, too – although clearly, many products can work across both.
So, I wonder what the next step for the UK tanning industry will be. It’s great to see that after what has been a pretty tough stretch on the UV front, business is picking up and with the sunless side going great guns – a year ago and I would never have Adam and Eve’d it (cockney rhyming slang: believed it!) A thought is crossing my mind as I write … a chain of tanning salons fronted by the members of TOWIE called “The Only Way is Tanning” or “TOWIT” – what do you think?
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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