Durex Rolls Out Low-Cost Condoms in Africa

(Bloomberg) -- Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc’s Durex is introducing a new condom label named Feels in South Africa, seeking to capture revenue from a region where public health services offer free contraceptives.

The new condoms are priced well below other Durex products, making them more accessible to consumers who might otherwise opt for handouts, Chief Executive Officer Rakesh Kapoor said in an interview in Johannesburg.

Feels started selling in November at 9.99 rand (73 cents) per pack of three in informal convenience stores known as spaza shops -- an effort to make them more widely accessible than the free option, Kapoor said. Durex’s Featherlite sells for 39.99 rand per pack. The new label is also available in Botswana, and will be sold in other African countries such as Nigeria and Namibia.

“This special pack is priced for this market, with the same quality you would expect from any of our other brands,” Kapoor said.

The company aims to normalize conversation about condom use in Africa in the same way that it did in China, Kapoor said. There, Durex used social media advertisements showing a man sheathing his sneakers in condoms to protect them from rainfall, promoting the brand in a market where sex-related topics can be difficult to broach.

Durex and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will each donate $5 million to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Reckitt Benckiser said in a statement. In South Africa, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of premature deaths, with 270,000 new infections every year and 7.1 million HIV-positive people in a population of about 57 million.

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