Durex Condoms Moves into Adult Novelty Market

Ericka Jensen

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Durex, one of the most popular condom brands in the U.K., manufactured by SSL International, entered the adult novelty market this week when the company unveiled Play Time products, a line of disposable and non-disposable vibrators, lubricants, rings and condoms at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace trade show.

Durex’s Play Time line is offering consumers a broad base of items — everything from disposable battery-operated rings (condom included), variety packs of lube (in single-use sizes), massage oils that double as lubricant and couples-orientated vibrators, all packaged discreetly and bearing the Durex brand name.

Some in the novelty industry say the move is one that will continue to open the market up to an untapped market of mainstream consumers.

And while vibes have maintained a presence in the mainstream market throughout the years, in the 1970s 7 and 10-inch vibrators were sold in drugstores, most recently mainstream retail chains like American Apparel and Brookstone have jumped on the bandwagon. American Apparel listed Hitachi Magic Wands in its online store last month and Brookstone has carried a line of “massagers” for years.

Sexual accessories have found a way into the mainstream as well. Select products from System JO’s lubricant line now graced the shelves of CVS stores nationwide and sexual accessory company Jimmyjane found success with its Wellbeing line of candles and massage lotions with cosmetic giant Sephora throughout France and Italy launched just this week.

Durex took advantage of this week’s NACDS Marketplace, one of the largest and most powerful convergences of drug, food, mass, club, and value retailing in the U. S., to unveil the Play Time line. The trade show brings together more than 250 retail companies representing more than 145,000 stores and 700 manufacturing companies annually.

Screaming O partner Keith Caggiano was there when Durex launched the line.

“If you look at the trends in our industry right now you’ll see that consumers are moving into a new, enlightened direction,” Caggiano told XBIZ. “Mainstream companies like Durex have the ability to breakthrough the taboos that have been associated with adult novelty items.”

“Companies like these are going to help our industry convert customers who might not be comfortable entering an brick and mortar store.”

California Exotic Novelties Director of Marketing, Al Bloom, agrees with Caggiano.

“Anytime distribution within new markets is developed it’s a good thing for our industry,” Bloom told XBIZ. “The face of adult products has certainly changed over the years, and consumers are much more open minded.”

“The stigma, to a certain extent, has been lifted, and mainstream outlets are more receptive to carrying vibrating products based on customer response. I am sure they were careful to test the waters before going chain wide.”

Still, Bloom said the mainstream appeal might not catch on that quickly.

“Even though the product is in a drugstore, it doesn't guarantee that a large percentage of consumers will place it on the checkout conveyor,” Bloom told XBIZ.

“I truly believe that more experienced toy users will still seek out their specific needs in traditional adult products outlets and I believe it will be many years before you will see a Jack Rabbit at Walgreen’s.”