The nation’s widening generation gap seems to be an issue not just in politics, but also in condom use.
According to a recent survey by Durex, a condom brand owned by the U.K.’s Reckitt Benckiser, the usage rate of condoms among those in their 20s has reached 79 percent, but for those in their 40s or older, the figure is in the single digits.
“I haven’t seen that steep a decline: Almost everyone using it to almost no one using it between generations,” Arjun Purkayastha, marketing director of Reckitt Benckiser Korea, said in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.
|Arjun Purkayastha, marketing director of Reckitt Benckiser Korea|
Sexual satisfaction was also found to fade with age. Only 24 percent of Koreans said they were fully satisfied with sex with their partner, with the youngest age group showing the highest figure at 35 percent. The figures compared to the global average of 44 percent.
Aiming to spice up Koreans’ sex lives, Durex, the biggest condom maker with more than 80 years of history, made its official Korea debut in March. And behind the ambitious goal is the marketing chief.
When the company considered the entry two years ago, he said, all he heard about was the market’s supposedly closed nature.
“Everyone said: Koreans don’t like to talk about sex. It’s an evil subject there. And it’s a very conservative society,” he said.
“But what we found (in the market research) was a surprise. Almost 80 percent of people do talk about sex to their friends. They are actually very open.”
Sensing a business opportunity, the company entered the market and also decided to do an unprecedented experiment ― run the nation’s first condom commercial on TV.
The two-part commercial, aired only via cable channels late at night, features a young couple showing the different expectations of sex between men and women.
Even though it was also the first time for Korean regulators to review a condom commercial, the changes they required were minor, Purkayastha said.
The commercial was a success, elevating the brand awareness of Durex and its sales overall. But more importantly, he said, sex has become a topic for open discussion here.
After six months in Korea, the marketing chief showed confidence in expanding the brand’s presence here.
According to him, the company’s Fetherlite ultra, an ultrathin condom, has already become the best-selling product across segments.
“Compared to China and India where people want more basic products for reliability and assurance, Korea is a very developed market and wants higher benefits such as thinness and sensation.”
Even though he declined to further elaborate on specific sales numbers, he said Durex was fast catching up with the market leader, Japan’s Okamoto Industries, which is said to be enjoying about 30 percent of the local market share.
“In the condom industry, brand name is more important than anything else,” he pointed out, saying that brand name represents the company’s history, experience and product safety.
“As people can enjoy sex without worrying about unwanted pregnancy or other safety concerns, they start to enjoy more sex, feel deeper a connection with lovers. More satisfying sex, closer relationships lead to healthier life,” he said.
He added the company was willing to work with the local authorities on sex education at schools as it does in other markets.
Durex also plans to launch three massage gel products ― thus far absent from Korea ― in the coming weeks to add more fun to people’s bedroom escapades.
By Lee Ji-yoon (email@example.com)