Safe Sex: Chinese buy condom business as savvy youth spur demand

Fri May 26, 2017 6:46am EDT
 
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By Adam Jourdan

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - April Zhang, a 21-year-old student from Shanghai, reflects the fast-shifting attitudes of China's younger generations toward sex. She's confident to talk about a topic once taboo here and is well educated about the risks.

Zhang and her young contemporaries - though far from uniform in their views - are much more open in their attitudes to sex than their conservative parents and increasingly aware of the need for protection against sexually-transmitted diseases.

This sex savvy generation is set to spur sharp growth of the country's condom market, a key driver behind a deal by Chinese investors to buy the world's no. 2 condom business for $600 million from Australia's Ansell Ltd.

"Attitudes are certainly changing. We're increasingly open," said Zhang, adding her friends mostly chose brands like Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc's Durex and Japan's top-selling brand Okamoto due to their reputation for high quality as well as their visible marketing campaigns.

"This is a very important product, if it goes wrong just once then the consequence is severe," she said.

In China's big cities, condoms are now available in plain view: convenience stores on urban high streets often have condoms on display by the till, while brands like Durex have millions of followers on their China social media platforms.

On supermarket shelves Ansell's brands Jissbon - named to sounds like James Bond - and the higher-end SKYN brand sit alongside an array of local offerings with names like "Endless", "Pleasure More", "Double Butterfly" and "Donless".

Durex is by some distance the best-selling condom brand on Chinese online shopping platform Taobao, followed by Jissbon, Okamoto and local brands SixSex and MingLiu, according to data from Daxue Consulting.   Continued...

 
FILE PHOTO: Boxes of Ansell condoms are displayed for sale at a local pharmacy in Sydney, Australia, May 16, 2016.    REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo