Dispatches from Bangkok

Not at in-cosmetics Asia? Here's what you missed from our talk on 'SPF v UVA' for ethnic skin..

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Not at in-cosmetics Asia? Here's what you missed from our talk on 'SPF v UVA' for ethnic skin..

Related tags Ultraviolet

In a packed room of industry professionals on day one of in-cosmetics Asia, Cosmetics Design challenged the myth that SPF based products are the best protection for Asian skin. The talk also included an update on innovation and educational campaigns in the area of UVA protection.

In the marketing trends theatre on the first day of the show, Cosmetics Design delved into the state of the skin care protection segment in Asia to a packed room of cosmetics professionals.

Despite the industry's efforts to educate the consumer on how best to protect their skin from the sun, this publication reported that in 2015, some are still confused about the benefits of UVA protection over a high SPF product for example, particularly when it comes to treating pigmentation. 

Skin care protection in Asia is about obtaining clearer, whiter skin and treating pigmentation irregularities from as young as fifteen.

CosmeticsDesign-Asia.com informed attendees that while UVA based products are key for treating this skin issue over SPF, this has yet to resonate with consumers who have been conditioned to reach for the latter.

Consumers are looking to SPF products based on an ingrained belief that these are the best protection against pigmentation​,” Dr. Alain Khaiat of Seers Consulting informed this publication during our research into the subject.

Are consumers reaching for the right product?

While there are a lot of ‘broad spectrum’ products out there today claiming to provide both UVA and UVB protection, Cosmetics Design informed attendees that the equivalent UVA defence to that of the UVB protection stated is frequently not the case.

On top of this, the marketing of UVA protection products such as the PFA and UVA + (PA ++, +++) systems have been sending unclear messages to consumers. 

There has also been a history where a product that claims to have the highest SPF factor gains competitive advantage and while these ‘Pure Marketing Stories’ have been cracked down on in Europe, there is still a long way to go in standardising claims in Asia.

Marketing hurdles

In fact, even the most genuine ‘Marketing Stories’ can be a major hurdle for both the consumer and the brand if a company doesn’t know its audience, regardless of the formulation being the right fit for a market’s needs.

In Asia, products that promote ‘whitening properties’ are actually recognized as anti-ageing products by consumers, which international players need to get their head around.

Any brand marketing a product as an ‘anti-ager’ in the region will be viewed as offering a treatment for wrinkles – a skin issue that people are only concerned with in their 40’s.

Thus, even the major beauty players will lose out on a key market if they are not on the same page with what the consumer perceives those ‘buzz’ words to represent.

“If you want to launch a product that caters to the biggest skin concern in Asia – pigmentation, you could market it as ‘brightener’ that promotes clearer, younger skin rather than a ‘whiter’ complexion​,” this publication advised the international attendees.

What the industry's doing to clear up the confusion...

In a time where there is still some confusion, there has admittedly been a considerable amount of sun protection awareness campaigns, celebrity partnerships and shade incentives.

Take for example Nivea. The brand widely recognised around the globe and with a sun care range present in fifteen of Asia’s countries launched an international campaign earlier in the year to increase awareness about the risks of UV radiation, stating that there are “still far too many consumers out there who are not aware of the risks.”

The brand teamed up with British artist Thomas Leveritt for the campaign, who uses UV cameras to show how sunlight changes the skin and how the right sunscreen can protect against it.

Cosmetics Design spoke to Nivea corporate marketing director, Michael Lessmann about the brand’s message in this campaign, who said that his team were initially apprehensive about the 'shock factor' of what the ultraviolet camera reveals, but that the impact was imperative in driving home the risks of sun damage even in 2015.

While the campaign was global, Lessmann explained that Nivea’s approach differed when it came to the campaigns for Malaysia and Thailand as its’ people are not frequent beach goers but are exposed to the sun in short bursts – like on the way to work, the supermarket or the park, that many still do not associate as warranting protection for.

And while sunburn may not be the key issue, this corporate marketing director says that the brand recognised that it needed to do something to communicate to consumers that even this daily exposure is enough to develop excessive melanin which, as we’ve established leads to pigmentation problems.

Finally, innovation in this area revealed on the day included ‘broad spectrum’ multi-functional products and sun care protection accessories that track sun exposure and recommend types of sun protection you might need as well as alerting you before your skin starts to burn. 

If you haven't made it to in-cosmetics Asia this year, Cosmetics Design has got it covered for you! Tune in for updates from the show floor throughout the week.

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