Condom: A Growing Business

Karex, the world’s largest condom maker by volume, produces four billion annually, more than any other single manufacturer. Industry consultants estimate the global condom market is worth US$6 billion (RM19.68 billion) in 2015, or about 27 billion condoms.

Karex’s condoms make up 15 per cent of the global market. With heightened awareness of safe sex, global demand is expected to grow at eight per cent annually.

When it comes to brand recognition, leading labels Durex (marketed by Reckitt Benckiser), Trojan (owned by Church & Dwight) and Lifestyles (by Ansell Ltd) make up 25 per cent of the world’s condom market. Apart from selling on volume, like all businesses, it is far more vital to add value so as to sell at premium pricing. This is underpinned by product produce condoms in an assortment of colours, texture, shapes and flavours.

However, it is believed, that the “feel” of the condom keeps the customers coming back. The challenge is for manufacturers to come up with thin and yet durable condoms that can withstand punctures. 

According to the Guinness World Record, the Aoni condom is the world’s thinnest rubber measuring 0.036 millimetres. China’s Guangzhou Daming United Rubber Products Ltd, that makes 200 million Aoni condoms annually, taking this “barely-there” tantalising title from Japan’s Okamoto Industries Inc’s thinnest variant of 0.038mm.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded US$100,000 in grant to the University of Manchester to develop nano composite materials for next-generation condoms. They are experimenting with a “miracle material” called graphene to make thinner and stronger condoms.

Graphene is 1 atom thick and 200 times stronger than steel.
Last week, Karex bought a 55 per cent stake in Boston-based Global Protection Corp for US$6.6 million. As brand owner of the ONE condom, Global Protection Corp granted exclusive rights to Karex to expand this “fun-loving” sensation into Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. ONE condom is now the fourth most popular brand after Durex, Trojan and Lifestyles.

In ramping up its capacity to six billion pieces by the end of 2015, Karex’s RM80 million eco-friendly factory is being built on a 7.3ha plot in Pontian, Johor. “When we combine utility savings and convert them to the all familiar carbon calculation, it’s a staggering 9,900 tonnes of
carbon dioxide avoidance into the air. That’s equivalent to the emissions of 29,000 cars in a year,” Karex said.

/Business Times, 05-10-2014

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