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The #sunpoverty movement gains momentum amid global warming and cost of living crisis

Kelle Salle
23 August 2022

The cost of living crisis is having a significant impact on consumers' spending habits, with a new survey from skincare brand UpCircle revealing that 1 in 5 UK shoppers are worried about being able to afford skin care products.

While skincare products could potentially experience a drop in sales over the coming months, consumers will naturally gravitate towards personal care instead, with necessity, value and a range of other factors in mind. One personal care product that consumers incorporate into their personal care routines is sunscreen.

Although education around the importance of sunscreen has improved in recent years, some consumers who are struggling to make ends meet may be tempted to stop buying it due to higher price points, which is why Escentual is on a mission to make sunscreen accessible for all.

Escentual was launched in 2000 by Rakesh Aggarwal. As one of the UK’s leading online beauty retailers, it has innovated and curated with the world’s most luxury brands. The brand pride itself on quality, satisfaction, service and care, so it’s no wonder it is on a mission to ensure children and adults have access to sunscreen as part of their #SunPoverty campaign.

"We believe that all children should have access to high factor sunscreen. It's vital for their health that they're protected from the sun, and with the summer coming up, children will want to get out and enjoy their holidays. They should be able to do so without the fear of getting sunburn which can seriously increase their chances of getting skin cancer in later life,” Rakesh Aggarwal, CEO and Founder said.

Escentual has been leading the fight against #sunpoverty

According to Statista, 18.68 million people used sunscreen in 2020 and 22.19 million people used it in 2019, so there is still a clear need for brands to emphasise the importance of wearing sunscreen on a daily basis. Escentual’s #SunPoverty campaign has been created with the wellbeing of children in mind. 80% of sun damage happens before the age of 18 and 86% of melanoma cases are preventable, which is why the brand wants to help young people who are unable to access sunscreen to protect themselves.

“We’re passionate about protecting children from the harmful effects of UV rays. The solution we created in response to our findings was to consider where we could add the most value, so we developed our own high-quality, high-protection sunscreen and donated it to school children and low-income families across the country,” Chelsey Edmunds, Escentual Communications & Campaigns Manager, said.

The first #SunPoverty campaign was launched in 2021. The brand donated 20,000 sunscreens to children on free school meals across the U.K and they aim to donate 30,000 sunscreens this year directly to schools as well as through their charity partners InKindDirect UK, Beauty Banks.

“As the cost of living increases, we know that many families are struggling to put food on the table, so sunscreen is less likely to be an option. Our objectives are to provide a solution by supplying sunscreens and to teach children about sun safety. We are also calling on the government to abolish VAT on children’s sunscreen as it’s not discretionary, it’s a necessity,” Edmunds said.

#SunPoverty is a not-for-profit campaign so the brand utilised the power of social media and influencer marketing to raise awareness, which proved to be a great success. “We had no budget for this campaign so we were simply relying on people’s kindness and passion for helping, and as a result, #SunPoverty has made a huge impact, with a social media reach of over 280 million and a PR reach of over 2 billion,” Edmunds said.

To increase the reach of the campaign, the brand used Instagram reels and TikTok, while Instagram live, Facebook and Twitter facilitated conversations, attracting existing and new audiences in the process. In terms of what could be better, the ever-changing algorithms have had an impact on social reach. “In the future, we may need to look at paid social advertising to reach new audiences,” Edmunds said.

Activism has been integral to the success of the campaign. Technology has given us all a voice to share our beliefs and Escentual has been able to capitalise on this as a way of encouraging consumers to do good and be part of the changes they wish to see. “People care about #SunPoverty and want to help,” Edmunds said.

One of the brand’s partners, InKind Direct has supported 249,000 people each week and has distributed £307 million worth of goods. As for what’s next, the brand are looking to partner with like-minded partners in the beauty industry to make a change. “During the summer months, we will be looking to hold pop-up events across the UK and live interview journalist panels where guests can ask our beauty and business experts anything,” Lawless said. 

Skincare expert and author Caroline Hirons is one of the campaign’s many supporters. “Skin cancer is very real, extremely dangerous and on the increase – that’s why I’m supporting Escentual's #SunPoverty campaign. Escentual's initiative to abolish VAT on children's sun cream, educate young people on sun safety, and donate thousands of broad-spectrum SPF50+ to children in struggling families is incredibly important,” she said.

Word of mouth has been another success point of the campaign. “Our audience have been sharing the importance of wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with friends and family via social channels with the hashtag #SunPoverty,” Edmunds said.

Consumers who buy an Escentual Sunscreen SPF50+ will be doing their bit to address the sunscreen gap as for each one sold, the brand will donate an Escentual Sunscreen SPF50+ 50ML to a child on free school meals. Additionally, consumers can support the brand’s call for the government to abolish VAT on sunscreen by writing to their local MP using this template.

For more information about the #SunPoverty campaign, visit the Escentual website.


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