Intimacy health heats up aisles as retail pharmacies fit consumers’ comfort level

NEW YORK —Intimacy health continues to be a hot commodity throughout retail pharmacy, especially as retailers and suppliers have successfully navigated toward an appropriate comfort level where the category is embraced by consumers in search of tastefully merchandised sexual wellness products in a nonsalacious setting.

For the 52 weeks ended Jan. 24, sales of condoms were up 0.6%, reaching $268.9 million across food, drug and mass (minus Walmart). Personal lubricants also climbed by 16.4%, reaching $159 million in that period, followed by sexual enhancement devices, a $9.8 million category growing by 46.5%, according to Information Resources Inc.

And it’s a combination of sorts across those two categories that’s helping to further drive growth. “We have hit a home run in condoms,” said Jim Craigie, Church & Dwight chairman and CEO, during a meeting with analysts last month. Over the summer last year, Craigie noted, C&D successfully introduced its Trojan Ecstasy line that combines a personal lubricant both on the interior and exterior of the condom. “It is now the No. 1 selling condom in America,” he said. “The best new product launch we’ve ever had.”

This year, C&D hopes to replicate that success with Trojan Fire & Ice, a condom that features a different kind of lubricant on both the inside and outside. “[The] great news is this [innovation] is not only driving our share growth; it’s [also] driving category growth again,” Craigie said. “We have…one huge monster on our hands, and we think we’re launching another one behind it.”

No. 2 condom supplier Durex also has reported significant growth across its intimacy health business—claiming 5.3% growth in worldwide sales across both condoms and its sexual enhancement devices. The Durex Play line, which includes both vibrating rings and personal massagers, is performing exceptionally well especially considering the category didn’t exist not more than three years ago, noted Garry Watts, CEO of SSL International, the U.K.-based parent company of Durex, during a conference call late last year. “A sixth of the total business is now in Play—quite an interesting expansion of the Durex brand that really has driven growth,” he said.

Part of what’s driving that growth is the fact that there is a real need for intimacy health fare in a mass setting, suggested Michael Kane, chief business development officer with OneUp Innovations, which is in the process of introducing the latest possible innovation in the category—a personal massager of sorts for men called the Tenga Egg. “There are people that will never buy in [adult novelty] stores that need other places to buy,” he said. “Their choices are: they can buy online still through an adult site, or as it’s emerging now, a trusted [health-oriented] online retailer.”

Currently, Tenga Egg is being test-marketed online with placements on many of the major online health retailers’ sexual wellness tabs, including Drugstore.com, Amazon.com, Walgreens.com and CVS.com, Kane said. The product is selling so well that one of the aforementioned online retailers, within two months of stocking Tenga Egg, began stocking the product in its warehouse for distribution versus the drop-ship agreements that many of the online vendors currently have in place, according to Kane.

Growth of sexual enhancement devices


*In millions Source: Information Resources Inc. for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 24 across food, drug and mass (minus Walmart)
Vendor Sales* % change vs. year ago
Church & Dwight $6.2 85.2%
Durex 3.0 8.3
Ansell 0.6 -5.9
TOTAL $9.8 46.5%