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Sunburnt no more? More Aussies buying sunscreen

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2013–September 2014 (n=16,176) and October 2014–September 2015 (n=15,668).

Australia’s reputation as the “sunburnt country” is legendary — almost part of our national identity, really — but the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal that we may slowly be losing our toasted rosy glow, as sales of sunscreen and sunblock increase.

In the 12 months to September 2015, 11.6% of Australians 14+ (2.3 million people) bought sunscreen in any given four-week period, up from 9.0% in the year to September 2014. This represents well over half-a-million additional sunscreen-buyers per average four weeks year on year.

It seems fitting that the Sunshine State leads the country in sunscreen-buying, with 13.6% of Queensland residents making a purchase in an average four weeks, up from 10.2% in 2014. Meanwhile, the greatest proportional growth in sunscreen buyers over this time occurred in South Australia (from 6.5% to 10.3% of the state’s population) and Western Australia (from 8.1% to 12.5%), taking them past Victoria (9.4%, up from 9.1%).

% of Australians 14+ who buy sunscreen/sunblock: state by state, 2014 vs 2015


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2013–September 2014 (n=16,176) and October 2014–September 2015 (n=15,668).

This growing tendency to buy sunscreen coincides with a slight increase in the proportion of Australians who are ‘worried about getting skin cancer’: from 57.9% of the population in 2014 to 58.9% in 2015 (an additional 307,000 people). 

As well as being the country’s most avid sunscreen-buyers, Queenslanders also happen to be the most concerned about getting skin cancer: 60.5% of them say they’re worried about it, a smidgeon ahead of people from NSW/ACT (60.4%) and Western Australians (58.9%).

With the country’s lowest purchase incidence of sunscreen, it’s not surprising that Tasmania is also home to the lowest proportion of skin-cancer wary folks (47.6%).

Andrew Price, General Manager – Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Australia has come a long way in terms of skin-cancer awareness and sun protection since the days of the original ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ campaign. In fact, the latest data from Roy Morgan shows that the proportion of Australians 14+ buying sunscreen has grown by almost 30% in the last two years alone. Given that non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common kind of cancer in Australia, and melanoma is in the Top Five, this is surely good news.

“However, there is still considerable difference between the states, with Tasmania lagging dramatically behind the rest of the country. Tasmania’s UV index can be as high as any of the mainland states, so there is no logical reason for Tasmanians’ low sunscreen-buying rate, although the fact that Tasmanians are less likely to be worried about getting skin cancer may have something to do with it.

“Obviously, geography is not the only factor influencing whether or not someone buys sunscreen: age, gender and socio-economic status all make a difference. For example, not only are women more likely than men to be concerned about getting skin cancer, they’re also markedly more likely to buy sunscreen in an average four weeks. (It should be noted, however, that this doesn’t necessarily mean women are more likely to use sunscreen: after all, far more women than men are their household’s main grocery buyer, and nearly half of all sunscreen purchases are made in a supermarket.)

“By first gaining a detailed understanding of Australians who buy sunscreen and/or are worried about getting skin cancer, health authorities can then pinpoint those who do not fit into either category, and tailor their campaigns to resonate with this at-risk segment of the population.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%