This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Chinese Condom Market Heats Up

The average person probably thinks of abortion when thinking about family planning in China, partly because of the fuss that Republican administrations in the US have made over the implementation of the one-child policy in China, and partly because a wide range of other forms of contraception have not been so readily available to Chinese couples (few couples use the pill, for example). In truth, however, the abortion rate in China is not much higher than in the United States, and married couples have a very high rate of contraceptive use, with the IUD being most popular (and abortion as a backup if that fails), and then couples are likely to go for sterilization after their one child is born. Few couples have been using condoms, however, and a Chinese firm is trying to reverse that trend. According to this week's Economist, Safedom is producing a new "virus-safe" condom that claims to outperform condoms made in the West, and it is aimed not just at married couples, but at an increasing number of people engaging in premarital sex.

Even with its claim to produce the first entirely virus-proof condom—yet to be verified by international bodies—Safedom reckons it needs a European brand for success outside China. Joining a list of Chinese companies recently striking deals in Europe, it will shortly announce a partnership with a European firm.
Safedom then aims to take on Durex and other giants in Europe and elsewhere. Founded in 2006, it has grown rapidly at home. It expects to sell 1 billion condoms in China this year, giving it about 8% of the domestic market. Most Chinese used to take free condoms from the government. Now, those who can afford to buy their own. When in a party mood, who trusts the Party?
Brian Fu, Safedom’s boss, praises European brand expertise and business management, but has his own clever strategy to raise sales: targeting women. Four-fifths of customers for Safedom’s condoms in China are women, whereas in most big markets, including China, only an estimated 40-50% of condom-buyers are female.

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