The Global Condom Market is Growing, as the Go-To Contraceptive Gets a Facelift

Condoms are hardly the most popular of boudoir accessories, no matter how many varieties of ribbed, lubed and ‘barely there’ versions there are.  However, most people still recognize the value of a rubber as inexpensive, effective birth control and one of the only forms of protection against STIs and STDs (unless you count abstinence, and really, who counts abstinence?).

Nowadays, thanks to a global rise in family planning and knowledge of STDs, as well as an increase in young people waiting to have families, the Global Condom Market is actually experiencing some growth (pun intended), with a CAGR of 8.39 percent from 2014-2018.

This projected growth can be chalked up to a variety of factors, including some recent reinvigoration of the oft-derided sheath by none other than former Microsoft head honcho, Bill Gates. The 2014 Gates Annual Letter talks at length about proper contraception, and its role in improving the quality of life for people in developing countries. The commitments outlined in the letter piggyback on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s pledge to reproductive health. Last year, the Foundation injected the condom manufacturing industry with 11, $100,000 grants, and challenged manufactures and designers with developing the next generation condom, that will “significantly preserves or enhances pleasure”. The idea is simple— if it feels good, people will use it.

Researchers and manufacturers have risen to the challenge, especially in the arena of developing non-latex condoms. Currently, latex is the most common material used in condom production, as seen in the graph below. However, latex allergies, as well as the unreliability of the material (it can only be used with water-based lubes, since anything else will cause the latex to deteriorate and break) have led to higher consumer demand for non-latex condoms.

Researchers have responded with some creative solutions. From polymers and nanomaterials such as graphene, to a one-size fits all anisotropic material that gently tightens during sex to enhance both reliability and pleasure, the solutions represent a re-imagining for a product that has not seen much action in the past 50 years. There is even a South African researcher who, according to the Grand Challenges in Global Health website, is working on a condom applicator with an “easy, fail-safe design that is applied with one motion, thereby minimizing interruption”.

Even so, there are still some factors that are challenging the global condom market. In many rural areas religious beliefs, social stigma and lack of education all seriously hamper the proliferation of prophylactics. On the other end of the spectrum, increased awareness of other contraception methods is also impacting the popularity of condoms as a go-to contraceptive. Nevertheless, other methods of protection are expensive and often require the input of a medical professional. When it comes down to it, condoms are cheap, easy to use and accessible nearly everywhere. It is this accessibility that will contribute to the growth of the market over the coming years.

For more information, view our 2014-2018 Global Condom Market report.

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