Christmas morning. I’m 12, my brother’s 15, and we ascend the stairs to the livingroom for our the traditional morning gift-opening. As always, we start with our stockings. At the bottom of our stockings are a 12-pack of condoms. My parents giggle maliciously as we turn sundry shades of red.
My parents, being liberated sorts, wanted to ensure that we were equipped should we, uh, get the opportunity. The irony was that my Mom, bless her, was too embarassed to buy them, and made my Dad do it instead. Sadly (but, from a developmental perspective, wisely), those condoms expired before I had a chance to to use them.
Tonight, I’m in the local grocery store and I’m buying ear plugs (I’m a light sleeper). Right beside the ear plugs are the condoms, in all their multi-coloured glory. I don’t really need any at the moment, but I peruse them to ensure that, you know, there haven’t been any revolutionary condom developments lately. The latest innovation (and I think it’s been around for a while) is apparently the Performax condoms from Durex. These have a ‘climax control lubricant on inside of condom to help prolong sexual performance’.
Given that, after size, duration is probably the biggest sexual anxiety of the average man, this is a thoughtfully-designed product. While consumer marketers have been playing on women’s hang-ups for generations, exploiting men’s fixations is a relatively recent phenomenon. There is, however, a problem: the purchase.
This article says that 66% of men feel “some level of embarrassment” when buying condoms. This grocery store is staffed almost exclusively by young women. Maybe I’m just sheepish, but the last thing I’d want to do is walk up to one of them and declare “I think I’m sexually deficient” before handing over some cash.
The solution, I guess, is to order online. That’s all fine and dandy, but I’d guess that the vast majority of condoms are purchased and used promptly. This article, for example, shows that half of young British men (admittedly, not a group reknowned for its foresight) only buy condoms after they have successfully pulled (hooked up, for you Brit-slang illiterates).
So, it’s a marketing challenge. How do you make it all right for skittish lads to procure this compelling but shaming product?
Bonus link: The Durex condom selector (do you want extra lubricious or just dotted?)