Size matters in sexcare… pack sizes, that is. supermarket condom sales have surged 7.3% to £49.3m ahead of volumes (measured in packs) up 4.3%. The March rollout of 14-condom (instead of 12) packs by Durex, which has 79% of the market, has driven this.

That’s not all. Brits seem to be getting over their hang-ups about sex, splashing out more on premium condoms and lubes. Sales of the latter have surged 12.3% on volumes up 4%, thanks mostly to pricier NPD such as Play Perfect Glide Gel (rsp: £9.99) from Durex.

The February launch of Durex Real Feel condoms, backed up with a Reel Feel lube in September, has also helped raise prices: a pack of 14 Reel Feel condoms, developed for a “natural skin on skin feeling,” has an rsp of £16.99 versus £11.49 for other ranges.

Nevertheless, Durex’s growth of 7.1% on volumes up 3.3% across condoms and lubes is dwarfed by an 18.3% rise in value, 9.8% in volume, for Mates, albeit from a much smaller base. Owner Ansell puts the performance down to NPD, including the 2013 launch of Skyn Intense Feel and Skyn Selection in January this year. Further growth is predicted on the back of “NPD still in the pipeline.”


A decline in promotional activity also contributed to volume lagging behind value growth, says Nielsen client manager Ayelen Arlla. “Promotions continue to be an important factor - about 30% is sold on deal, but it is not the only one,” she says. “Some brands have seen promotional de-escalation but have grown anyway.”

This is because, increasingly, Brits are not as uptight about sex as they’re often perceived to be, says category marketing director Mark Pearson at Durex brand owner Reckitt Benckiser, though he does add we’re still not as “nonchalant as some other countries” when it comes to purchasing condoms and lubes as part as our weekly grocery shop.

“Apart from innovation, the most important driver of growth is the increasing normalisation of sex and the increased understanding of sexual wellbeing,” he says. “With 62% of sales via just 20% of regular users - and 57% of those not always using a condom - clearly there is huge room for growth by increasing usage occasions amongst current users.”

Penetration can be increased, says Jane Bowles, founder of Skins Sexual health, which launched its first retail range in February, with products aimed at issues such as premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. “Pleasure and comfort for older men and women is an opportunity,” she adds.

It will take more to put the buzz back into sex device sales, down 3.9% to £2.1m, despite suppliers’ efforts to make products such as vibrating rings more mainstream. It seems there’s a limit to how much pleasure Brits are prepared to seek in the grocers.


Top launch: Reel Feel by Durex

Ooh er, Missus. In February, Durex rolled out Reel Feel condoms with the aim of setting his and her pulses racing during those intimate moments. Made with a non-latex material to replicate that ‘skin on skin’ feeling, the launch also had retailers in mind, offering a significantly higher price point than other Durex products. In September, a Real Feel lube was added to the line-up to help enhance sensitivity, says Durex. The launch was backed with a £3m ad push.