4 August 2022
Commodity Sectors

Summer and eCommerce: how much is the sunscreen market worth and how to make it more sustainable

This year’s could be the ‘coolest’ summer in years. The extreme heat of these months could in fact be just a foretaste of what the future holds, with increasingly torrid summers and rising temperatures. Faced with this scenario, the market for sun creams and sunscreen products is therefore set to grow, especially considering the increase in UV levels in the atmosphere due to the challenges of climate change.

We therefore analysed this market to understand how it affects the world of online sales and above all how to make it more sustainable.

How much is the sunscreen market worth

According to data from Cosmetica Italia, in 2021 Italians spent over 357 million euros on sunscreen products, 13.6% more than in 2020. In fact, the sector has been growing steadily over the last decade, with an average growth of 9.8%. In absolute terms, 11.5 million units were sold in 2021, with sun creams and lotions making up more than 99% of the market, the remainder consisting of bronzers and lip care products. And that’s not all. Over the past five years, 5,000 patents for sun care products have been filed in Europe. R&D investments in Italy exceed 7% of annual revenue, while recent trends in bio-preservation, organic products and recycled containers keep the market stable and growing.

The export of ‘Made in Italy’ products

Italy is also an important exporter of sunscreen products thanks to the prestige of ‘Made in Italy’ brands. According to data collected by Businesscoot, exports exceeded €500 million, with EU countries as the main buyers, followed by Hong Kong (€99 million) and the USA (€82 million). China and Saudi Arabia are also recently buying many ‘Made in Italy’ sunscreens, with respective increases in purchases of 62% and 55%.

Where sunscreen products are bought 

Of the 357 million euros spent by Italians on sunscreen products, 156.2 million come from pharmacies and 159.7 million from large-scale distribution. The main distribution channels for sunscreen products in Italy are in fact three:

1.Pharmacies and parapharmacies 

2. Supermarkets, hypermarkets and wholesalers

3. Dedicated corners within other commercial structures

However, as stated in the Cosmetica Italia Report of March 2021, the distribution channels for cosmetic products during the lockdown have suffered heavily from mandatory closures and low consumer footfall, leading to a change in buying habits and new sales channels and options, first and foremost online.

Online sales of solar products

As a result of the pandemic, online sales of sunscreen products have grown considerably, so much so that eCommerce has taken fourth place among the main channels for the distribution of cosmetics. According to Cosmetica data, in fact, the growth of the online channel is around 42% with a consumption coverage of 7.3 percentage points. The mix between sales in physical stores and on digital platforms seems in fact to be the path chosen by many brands which, thanks also to social commerce and the possibility of communicating directly with their customers, are increasingly offering new services such as online booking and in-store collection, the so-called Click&Collect, or the opening of virtual shop windows on delivery platforms, and even the launch of eCommerce initiatives through their own e-Shops, i.e. exploiting the advantages of the Direct To Consumer eCommerce model (which we will discuss shortly).

Alternative delivery modes 

Considering the constant growth of the market and the close link with the issue of environmental sustainability, thanks to the search for ever greener packaging and advanced product formulations that do not harm the skin or the environment, the market can also offer interesting ideas from a logistics and delivery perspective. For example, this summer we have noticed more and more eCommerce outlets offering their consumers the possibility of picking up products ordered online at Locker and Pick-up Points. A solution, by the way, that is extremely flexible especially during the holiday period, when one is often away from home or perhaps already travelling and it is therefore more difficult to find one’s trusted products at physical shops. In this way, on the other hand, it is possible to guarantee nationwide coverage, reaching one’s customers anytime and anywhere, with considerable and obvious benefits also for the customer experience.


If you have an eCommerce of solar products and want to integrate your channel with a network of over 45,000 Lockers and Pick-up Points already active throughout the country, GEL Proximity is for you! This way you can reach your customers practically all the way to the beach, or almost there. In addition, the platform also includes some features specifically designed for Click & Collect. Discover our services, or contact us for more information now.

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