Male condom.



This report aims to explore the possible business opportunity of condom manufacturing of a Novelty Condom (Lolly), with particular emphasis on the public and private sector markets for the male condom. In considering the market for male condoms in South Africa, it is prudent to separate the discussion into public sector and private sector markets, and within these markets to consider procurement, distribution and sale of the products.

Executive Summary

Market / Industry/ Description (Makro)

South African condom manufacturers are not competitive in the global market. This has led to their reliance on the government's condom procurement contract, which they are awarded on a preferential basis. It is as yet unclear whether government will continue to show preference to local manufacturers. If it does, this may further negatively impact the manufacturers' competitiveness, and limit their market to the local public sector. If government decides to award future contracts to the most competitive bidders, some local manufacturers may go out of business.

Socio Cultural

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There is no other product on the market apart from condoms that gives dual protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, as well as protection against unplanned pregnancy.

In South Africa, the burden of STIs and HIV is enormous. The Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA), (source: has developed a demographic and AIDS model (latest ASSA 2003) that makes use of data from several sources to project the potential course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the demographic impact that it is having. According to the latest version of the model, some 5.4 million South Africans were infected with HIV in mid-2006. The has escalated to 5, 934, 183 in 2007 (source: Quantec Database and ECSSEC Analysis, 2009). The model further indicates that prevalence is higher for women in the 15-34 age groups, while it is higher for men in the older ages. Furthermore, the ASSA model predicts that the number of people infected will continue to rise, to exceed 6 million by 2015. Accumulated AIDS deaths will be close to 5.4 million by the same year.

In terms of incidence, i.e. the number of new infections occurring, the 15-24 year age group, and particularly women, contributes the highest numbers of new infections. Biology, gender roles, sexual norms and inequalities in access to resources and decision-making power put women and girls at greater risk of infection. Many women have insufficient information about sexual and reproductive health and do not understand the risks associated with their own or their partners' sexual behaviour. Many of those who do recognise their vulnerability are powerless to protect themselves.

Other STIs also take their toll. In South Africa, the prevalence of STIs is estimated to range from 5% to over 30% in various population sub-groups and localities depending on the type of STI (source: ASSA and Quantec Database). It is important to note that, in addition to the disease and disability STIs themselves cause, they also increase the risk of acquiring HIV during intercourse as a result of inflammation and ulceration.

Male condoms are widely available in South Africa, both through public sector condom distribution programmes as well as for sale through retail outlets. The range of products available in the private sector is broad, catering for various user sizes, as well as other novel user preferences such as taste, colour and texture (Our target market: Novel Condom User). The availability of female condoms is much more limited.

And finally, although this is a practice and not a product, male circumcision has recently received a lot of attention as research has shown that the practice can reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Although this method cannot be used on its own to prevent HIV transmission, there are concerns in some quarters that miscommunication about the link between male circumcision and HIV transmission could potentially result in the practice being used as a substitute for condom use.

Adapted from: Outlook, May 2006


Employment potential

Condom manufacturing is both capital and labour intensive. In particular, the sampling and testing of batches of condoms, which is a critical component of the manufacturing process, is facilitated by hand. In Thailand, which is one of the world's leading exporters of condoms, it has been found that young women are best suited to this work as it is repetitive, precise and requires a high degree of speed and dexterity.

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The incumbent local manufacturers employ an average of 100 people. A new condom manufacturing facility could thus potentially provide employment for up to 100 semi-skilled young women.The following inputs are required to set up a male condom manufacturing facility.


In South Africa there are no compulsory regulations governing the manufacturing and testing of condoms. The Department of Health, as the primary purchaser of locally manufactured condoms, acts as an indirect regulator of the industry by requiring that all public sector male condoms be designed and manufactured according to technical specifications set by the World Health Organisation. These specifications include design, performance and packaging requirements, as well as general requirements that specify the safety of constituent materials and other characteristics, such as shelf life. In addition public sector condoms, irrespective of whether they are made locally or imported from overseas, need to be tested to the same quality standards and approved by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

Outside of the public sector, manufacturers may apply to the SABS for a “standardization mark” to illustrate that their product complies with the SABS requirements. Compliance with the standard is however voluntary and not compulsory.

Competitor Review

The South African condom manufacturing industry is an oligopoly made up of four companies, whose main customer is the Department of Health. The manufacturing facilities operate at or below their total production capacity, and further capacity will be created by the end of 2007. This points to a saturated industry that would not welcome a new entrant. Table 5 below is a summary of the operations of the four manufacturers.

Table 3: Local manufacturers of male condoms


Rrt Medcon




Date established










Products manufactured

Male condom

Male condom

Examination gloves

Surgical gloves

Male condom

Male condom

Linen savers


Choice condom (pieces per year)

63,750 000

38,250 000

72,250 000

38,250 000

Own brand condom

(pieces per year)




African Skin

(“very small quantities”)


(1,200 000)


Socially marketed condoms

(pieces per year)

Lovers Plus


(10,000 000)



(pieces per year)


(1,000 000)

Ad hoc

Total manufacturing capacity (pieces per year)

180,000 000

72,000 000

150,000 000

40,000 000






Competing products:

There are currently no other products that have been developed for men to protect against STIs, HIV and pregnancy. The male condom remains the primary prevention tool for men. Newer forms of male condoms include synthetic non-latex condoms made from materials such as polyurethane and styrene ethylene butylene styrene (SEBS), which have a longer shelf life, can be used with oil-based lubricants, and can be used by men who have latex sensitivity/allergy. These products are however not readily available in South Africa.

Foreign manufacturers

In addition to competition from other local manufacturers, foreign manufacturers of male condoms are also important role-players in the South African market. A review of data from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) of all the foreign manufactured condoms available in South Africa shows that India, China and Malaysia are the key competing countries. Table 7 below illustrates the share of the total Rand value of imported condoms for the key competing countries.

Table 5: Percentage share of imports by country - 2006


Rand value of imports

% of total imports


21,045 189



13,948 863



5,192 677


Source: SA Customs & Excise

The key competitive advantages of the foreign manufacturers include:

* Proximity to raw material (natural rubber latex)

* Competitive labour costs

* Output typically greater that 450 million pieces per year, so can benefit from economies of scale.


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Expected margins:

A manufacturer in the industry can expect to realise profit margins between 5% and 20% (General Manager, Karex). Below is an illustration of the estimated revenues for Karex.

Table 4: Case study - Karex

Condom type

Number of pieces sold

Selling price




72,250 000


R14,659 525

Lovers Plus + Trust

10,000 000


R5,000 000

Carex (export)

1,000 000


R900 000

Carex (retail)

1,200 000


R1,200 000

Total revenue

R21,759 525

Given that all male latex condoms are essentially similar in terms of their manufacturing process, it stands to reason that volumes are a major determinant of the margins that a manufacturer can realise. Therefore in the current market, a manufacturer would need to have Government as a client in order for their operation to be viable.

Table 2: Average price charged per 3-pack of condoms

Condom Brand

Average price per 3-pack

Lovers Plus







Company Image /Brand
Management Skills and Resources

Larry Davin CEO – PHD in Nothing

Khuthele Bovu - Director – PHD in business science marketing and Finance


Core Competencies
SWOT Analysis

The above analysis should enable us to determine what variables will have an effect on the success or failure of the business. Potential Internal strengths and weaknesses have been looked at as well as external opportunities and threats.

Ansoff Market Matrix

Key Issues and New Opportunities.

5 Points to be determined from the Ansoff Matrix


(Must be SMART)

PMS objectives

Marketing objectives

Objectives from new opportunities and key issues.

3.3.1 Male condom manufacturing

A new entrant into the male condom manufacturing industry in South Africa would face a saturated industry in which a handful of companies operate.

Furthermore a new entrant would need to compete with foreign manufacturers who are able to achieve cost-competitiveness through scale, cheaper labour and ready access to raw material.

As government is the most significant customer in the market, failure to secure a contract with the DoH would jeopardise the viability of any operation.

In addition, the requirement for a manufacturer to demonstrate existing capacity would mean setting up a facility at risk, with no certainty of securing the major customer.

In the retail environment, the manufacturer would need to compete with well established brands such as Durex and Lifestyle.

South Africa is a net importer of male and female condoms. Import s from the three primary source countries of latex condoms are shown in the table below. South Africa also imports from other countries such as the UK, Thailand, Germany and Korea.

Table 9: Imports to South Africa of rubber sheath contraceptives (Rand value)

Import source




Total imports
















Source: SA Customs & Excise

The Rand value of exports of condoms from South Africa is very small in comparison. Local manufacturers export primarily to other African countries.

Table 10: South African exports of rubber sheath contraceptives (Rand value)

Export market




Total exports




















Source: SA Customs & Excise

It is important to note that these s do not only reflect the value of South African manufactured condom exports, but also those foreign manufactured condoms that are packaged in South Africa and then exported.

Possible reasons for the poor export performance of South African manufacturers are discussed earlier in this report. It remains to be seen whether local manufacturers will become more competitive in the future, or whether the proposed preferential procurement of local condoms by the DoH and the degree of protection that provides to local manufacturers will further jeopardise the success of local condom products in the global market.

Table 9: Inputs required – male condom factory

Input required




Construction and civil works


Automatic dipping line

High voltage dry electronic testing machine

Condom foil sealing machine

Automatic burst tester

Electrolyte water test machine

Tensile tester

Length measuring gauge

Miscellaneous condom testing laboratory equipment

Other equipment and accessories

Motor vehicles


Office equipment and accessories


Rubber latex


Packaging material

Human resources

Factory labour

Management team: must have financial, production and marketing know-how.

Target Market Identification

South African Market for Condoms

In South Africa public sector condoms constitute the bulk of the condoms available. In 2006 approximately 428 million male condoms were distributed through public sector channels, against 36 million units sold in retail outlets.

Source: Society for Family Health, 2007

With a crippled economy forcing millions of cash-strapped Americans to entertain themselves at home, it's not surprising that one particular product is seeing a sales increase — condoms. (Source:

While car purchases plummeted and designer clothes mostly stayed on the racks, sales of condoms in the U.S. rose 5% in the fourth quarter of 2008, and 6% in January vs. the same time periods the previous year. (Source: The Nielsen Co).

South Africans could not be outdone by their American counterparts. According to the research conducted by the IOL (, it has also been a boom time for South Africa's leading condom manufacturers, with sales up 55 percent on last year.

“There has been a 50-percent increase in sales, which is probably a combination of marketing activities together with the Aids message finally filtering through to consumers," said Dave Glass, general manager of Adcock, which distributes the Lifestyles and up-market Contempo brand condoms.
Competitor Durex SA reported a 35-percent growth in its condom sales in the same period, according to its spokesperson J Giles.

While a three-pack of Contempo condoms will cost anywhere from about R20 to R27, Glass said increased sales in the lower-priced Lifestyles brand (about R10 for 3) may have been a sign that people were willing to pay for protection in the wake of last year's recall of government condoms.

Government, through the Department of Health, is the key role-player in the public sector. Private sector condoms are those that are available at commercial prices from retail outlets as well as those sold at subsidized prices through social marketing programmes.

The dominance of the public sector market is likely to continue into the future, given the priority and resources that government has made available towards the fight against HIV/AIDS, and also considering that the targeted end-user (mainly Black youth) generally cannot afford to pay retail prices for condoms.

If a new manufacturer is to enter the South African condom market, five segments of the market will need to be assessed to determine which hold the greatest potential for future sales.
Positioning and strategy

Key ingredients for success

The most critical ingredient for the success of a new condom manufacturer is securing the Department of Health contract. Without this, none of the other potential market segments would be sufficient to render the operation viable. innovation is important (novelty), so that a good quality product is developed which can be sold at a reasonable price. In addition, generating demand for the product is important, so substantial effort will need to be devoted to creating and promoting the appropriate marketing message for the product.

Other factors that will contribute to a successful operation are:

A project management team to ensure sound operations, marketing and financial control.

Close co-operation with national and international organisations working in the area of reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Furthermore, a manufacturer who is bidding for a portion of the government contract needs to show existing production capacity. This will require considerable set-up costs to be incurred, without the certainty of securing the major client.



HIV prevention is the backbone of government's National HIV & AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007-2011. The primary aims of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) are to:

Reduce the rate of new infections by 50% by 2011.

Reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS by expanding treatment, care and support to 80% of all HIV positive people and their families by 2011.

An important intervention to reduce the rate of new infections is the distribution of male and female condoms. The Department of Health (DoH) is responsible for the management of quality control and related logistics for public sector condoms. Male and female condoms are distributed free of charge to various sites. The distribution of male condoms includes hospitals and clinics as primary distribution sites, with secondary distribution extending to non-governmental organisations, workplaces, and other locations. Female condoms are distributed to selected sites and require one-on-one counselling on their use.

Government's male condom distribution pattern and the projected future distribution are illustrated in the table below.

The DoH procures condoms through a tender process. The current two year

contract, which started in October 2005, has been extended and will expire in February 2008. The Department currently procures male condoms from all four of the local manufacturers as well as from foreign manufacturers.

Table 1: Government male condom suppliers


% allocated


Unit price per 200 pieces (R)

Maximum contract quantities ( ‘000 p/a)





72 250





38 250





63 750





38 250

Equity Distributor


Imported (China)


72 250



Imported (Malaysia)


72 250

Supex International


Imported (China)


68 000

Source: Department of Health, July 2007

In the current contract, all four local manufacturers were allocated a portion of the contract, despite a wide variation between the lowest and highest prices, and despite the fact that all the locally manufactured condoms were more expensive than the imported product. Discussions with National Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) give conflicting views of how future tenders will be adjudicated. In Treasury's view, future tenders should be more stringently governed by cost-competitiveness, where the price per unit is limited to a specified range which is benchmarked against international prices. The DTI however believes that preference should be given to local manufacturers, in particular small and medium sized companies (value of assets less than R200 million). Discussions are on-going between the DoH, Treasury and the DTI. It is unlikely, though, that an agreement will be finalised before the awarding of the government condom tender in the first quarter of 2008, and the current preferential treatment of South African manufacturers will remain.

A new manufacturer will need to show existing manufacturing capability, although there will be no minimum level of capacity that be required.

The South African non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector is not a significant segment in the condom market, as many of the organisations active in the HIV/AIDS and reproductive health space form part of government's condom distribution channel and do not themselves procure condoms directly from suppliers. An important exception to this rule is the Society for Family Health (SFH), the South African affiliate of the international NGO network, Population Services International (PSI).

PSI was founded in 1970 in Washington DC, with the intention to improve reproductive health using commercial marketing strategies. With programs in malaria, reproductive health, child survival and HIV, PSI promotes products, services and healthy behaviour that enable low-income and vulnerable people to lead healthier lives. PSI has a presence in over 60 countries around the world.

In South Africa, PSI concentrates on issues related to HIV/AIDS. The organisation, through SFH, uses social marketing to motivate behaviour change with respect to consistent condom use, HIV testing, and other safer behaviours. SFH promotes consistent condom use through its own two male condom brands, Lovers Plus and Trust. The organisation procures 24 million male condoms per year from local and foreign suppliers. In addition, SFH obtains free female condoms from the DoH, which are then marketed under the Care brand and sold at retail outlets. SFH sells approximately 6000 female condoms per month.

SFH also assists the DoH with the distribution of its free condoms. The organisation distributes approximately 8 million public sector male condoms per month in Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal and the Western Cape.


The retail sector accounts for 7.8% of the male condom market in South Africa. Male condoms are widely available for sale in retail outlets. The most widely available condoms are the socially marketed brands, Lovers Plus and Trust. A study carried out by PSI in November 2006 looking at coverage of Lovers Plus and Trust condoms in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg found that most areas of the three cities met the minimum standards for coverage, where coverage was defined as the number of geographically defined areas where at least 30% of outlets stock Lovers Plus and Trust. These outlets included traditional outlets such as pharmacies, top-end retailers and general dealers, as well as non-traditional outlets such as garage forecourts, hair salons and shebeens.

Approximately 36 million male condoms are sold in South Africa per year, with approximately 70% of those sales being of Lovers Plus and Trust condoms. (Senior Marketing Manager, SFH). The balance of the sales is made up by Durex, Lifestyle, Contempo, and various other locally manufactured and imported condoms.


The corporate sector in South Africa has woken up to the reality of the HIV epidemic. Many companies have HIV awareness and management programmes for their employees. However, although corporate HIV programmes include condom distribution as a key element, the majority of companies distribute free government condoms to their employees. A snap survey of 10 corporate members of the South African Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (SABCOHA) found that all but one company, Chevron South Africa, distribute free Government male condoms to their employees. The companies indicated that they saw no need to buy condoms directly from suppliers when free public sector condoms were easily available. The companies do not normally distribute female condoms. Some have bought female condoms in the past for training purposes.


South Africa's export of male condoms to date has been erratic, and local manufacturers have found it difficult to find a market for their products. The global condom market is dominated by low-cost manufacturers from Thailand, Malaysia, India and China, who are located in close proximity to natural rubber latex plantations. Local manufacturers have not been able to compete. Although all four of the local manufacturers have at some point exported their product, particularly to Mozambique, Malawi, Angola and Congo Brazzaville, at present only Karex exports condoms, about 1 million pieces per year, to Congo Brazzaville.
Market Mix Strategy

Target Market Strategies

Global market for condoms

The global condom market is estimated to be worth $3 billion, (source: The public sector is an important market segment globally, with between 6 and 9 billion male condom units consumed by that segment annually

Though the prevention of pregnancy is still an important function of condoms, the driving force for growth is the prevention of STIs, in particular HIV/AIDS. Given the rapid spread of HIV in China, India and recently South Africa (in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa), and the large sizes of their respective populations, it is expected that annual public sector demand for condoms, both male and female, will reach 19 billion units by 2015. (Source: Female Health Company, 2007).