German Condom Company set to Balloon | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 03.12.2001
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German Condom Company set to Balloon

A Cologne based condom manufacturer, Condomi, has plans to cash in on the AIDS epidemic by launching Africa's first condom manufacturing plant.


Condomi, a popular brand in Germany

The world wide demand and market for condoms is increasing rapidly. An additional 500 million prophylactics were needed this year alone. The need for protection is greatest in Africa, a lucrative and untapped, emerging market.

Volker de l'Homme, the head of Condomi, comments: "Africa is clearly the number one place to be. If you come to think of it, there isn't a condom manufacturing plant on the entire continent, which is shocking. Especially when one considers that two out of three people infected with HIV live on this continent."

Condomi's first factory will be based in South Africa. The German condom manufacturer plans to bring 100 million condoms into the market annually by teaming up with local companies to distribute the products. The manufacturing process begins in Erfurt, East Germany.

The plan is to ship the unfinished products to one of South Africa's major harbor cities, East London. There the condoms will be refined, quality checked and packed for distribution. According to analysts and health officials, the African continent needs several billion condoms per year

Previously, prophylactics for the African market have always been imported from Europe or Asia. For l'Homme, the entire process needed to be rethought and improved upon. He said, "We realized that the foreign policies for third world countries have not run very smoothly. Health organisations and states all over the world brought condoms and simply dumped them into the country. This clearly isn't effective. This strategy is not very proactive."

Proactivity and the use of the condoms as a preventitive measure is especially important in Africa, where any talk of sexual practice is a taboo. Therefore, Condomi also wants to help develop centers for sexual health and family planning.

The South African government, in conjunction with an association of non-governmental organizations, have put various projects out to tender. If Condomi plays its cards right, it will undoubtedly see a boost in sales and increased brand awareness in this untouched market.

Bussiness success is only guaranteed when a company adequately fulfills a market need. For the German based condom manufacturer, these needs where somewhat different from what it was accustomed to.

According to l'Homme: "Condoms from Europe and Asia are generally flesh colored. But, according to our market research, darker and golden colored condoms are more widely accepted and even represent something of value in Africa. The black and gold color, coupled with a pleasant smell and good shape will undoubtedly be a smash hit in South Africa."

80 percent of Condomi's turnover is generated through the sale of prophylactics. The remaining 20 percent is generated through the sales of erotic adult toys and x-rated internet services. In the last financial quarter the company increased its turnover by 44 percent in comparison to previous years.

The once small Cologne based company has ambitious goals. It plans to take on the likes of Durex by focusing its energy on being number one in emerging markets.

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