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Most Embarrassing Products: Trojan Condoms


Actually, the company's newer products come with a more acute blush factor, and require batteries.

Ecstasy, Her Pleasure, Fire & Ice, Magnum – these are just a few of the varieties of Trojan condoms that adorn the shelves of your local convenience store, and if you've had sex in your lifetime, you've probably picked up a box at least once. But the idea of having everyone knowing you're having sex, that you prefer lubrication, and that you aren't quite blessed enough to fit into a Magnum, are just a few of the insecurities that go along with bringing a box of condoms to the register.

It's no wonder condoms have this stigma. The sale of condoms started as a backroom business in early 20th century. Most retailers weren't interested in peddling sex at the time and a law from the 1870s made it illegal to sell birth control, so condoms were marketed as a protection against disease until after World War I.

It wasn't until the 1930s that the modern latex condom was introduced. Prior to that, most condoms were made of rubber, and before that, animal skins. Early condoms were secured with pink bows – definitely things that one should have been embarrassed to procure.

Condoms today are a multimillion dollar business. Chicago-based market research firm SymphonyIRI Group estimates the total condom market to be worth about $400 million in the U.S. Trojan, whose 70% market share makes it the U.S. category leader, brings in revenues of approximately $270 million annually. Trojan's parent company, Church & Dwight (CHD), also earns another $7 million annually with its sexual enhancement products, including the new Trojan line of vibrators.

Bruce Tetreault, group product manager for Church & Dwight's Trojan, told Minyanville that the company "reaches out across all touch-points" in order to spread the brand's message of trust and quality. "We want to try to improve the state of sexual health in America," says Tetreault.

In an effort to make the condom buying experience a little less awkward for consumers, Trojan advertising has focused on couples going through the experience of buying condoms together. Ads have also featured strong female personalities, characters that resonate with the one-third of condom buyers who are women.

Beyond that, the company conducts frequent customer outreach surveys that help them to better understand their end user. Some surveys ask about having sex in the rain, while others focus on achieving optimum levels of sexual desire.

Scott Piergrossi, VP of creative development for Brand Institute – a branding firm in Miami, says, "Brands can build a relationship to make purchasing a little easier." He points out that a Trojan warrior is a symbol of masculinity and stamina, potent concepts for a product sold mainly to a male audience.

The brand's key market sector is the college demographic, men and women 18 to 24 years in age. Therefore, the brand tries to have a significant presence at popular spring break locales, rock concerts and music festivals. "Trojan is about innovation," says Tetreault. "We overcome perceptions of awkwardness through innovation and communication with our customers. It's about how we talk about our products and the pleasure and protection that they bring." A recent initiative gave consumers a chance to submit their own rap about safe sex and the "Magnum" condom in a contest hosted by rapper Ludacris, who's also playing judge.

But if a recent sex trend to have taken hold in Japan is any indication of where the world market is going, Trojan's marketers might want to take a keen look at an older demographic. Much, much older....

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