Marketing condoms in India is a tricky business: Joy Chatterjee, Mankind Pharma

Joy Chatterjee Mankind Pharma

Mankind Pharma’s Joy Chatterjee tells us about the various facets of selling condoms in India while fighting the stigma associated with conversations around sex.

With a 32% market share, Manforce Condoms is the number one condoms category brand in India. However, their brand image is not as strong as their competitors with international roots, especially in metro cities, as their distribution channel — something the brand has started paying special attention to in the last few years. Joy Chatterjee, GM – Sales & Marketing, Mankind Pharma tells us more about their branding strategy, impact of COVID-19 and the brand’s association with Sunny Leone.

How does Manforce Condoms approach brand image?

In the last two to three years, we have started working on our brand image in terms of digital presence, association with IPL and ProKabaddi. We are also trying to tap onto trending conversations on social media as well. Our objective is to increase brand image and recall for Manforce. This may not convert into sales but its a message to the consumers that Manforce is not just in the market for sales but also to raise voice on important social topics such as child pornography and keeping phones away during intimate times.

Could you tell us more about your target audiences?

As per a recent survey, about 75 to 78% of condom buyers are male and 22 to 25% are female. The percentage share is a little bit higher in metros. We do communicate to females too but the target audience is mostly males above the age of 18.

From a marketing perspective, we spend more budgets on North, East and West. South is a little bit less, but we have started targeting the zone more in the last six months.

Could you tell us about your marketing strategy on digital?

Marketing condoms in India is a tricky business. Selling can be done via our sales team and television but digital communication requires a good message at its core for it to go viral and be effective. We want to keep the communication minimalistic that takes into account the overall target audience on digital platforms, which consists of both males and females.

There is a very thin line between sensuality and vulgarity; we have to be mindful of this thin line at all times.

Also Read: #ChildrensDay: Condom brand creatives play hard to attract users on Instagram

Why do condom brands mostly concentrate on pleasure and not birth control in their communication?

When the subsidised brands were promoting condoms as a measure of birth control, there was very less usage among couples. Then brands started talking about how a condom is not just about birth control but it is an object that increases pleasure for both the male and the female. This helped in increasing the usage of condoms. When we talk about birth control, there isn’t much interest in it. When we talk about pleasure, we are adding on some value for the consumer. This is based on our observation of the market for the last 15 years.

Have you ever had to rethink a campaign before releasing it?

Firstly, it’s the condom category. Secondly, our brand ambassador is Sunny Leone. We have to be a hundred times more conscious about our campaigns for Manforce compared to our other brands. Our legal teams closely look into all our campaigns and communication.

How has Manforce’s partnership with Sunny Leone evolved over the years?

The partnership has been a huge success for Sunny Leone has her own aura, which has benefitted Manforce greatly. As a brand, we have always tried to be one that was approachable and affordable, that it would reach every part of the country because it’s economical. With our effective advertising, we now have a good presence in tier 2, 3 cities as well as metros. We have been able to make such inroads and Sunny has definitely been a big factor in it. She has no substitute!

Could you tell us more about the depiction of women in your advertisements?

From the beginning, in our advertisements, it is the females who take the lead role. We never take a male as a lead character. In the condom category, we consider the product as a means of protection for males and pleasure for females.

A female lead character helps in putting forth this narrative where she is sharing her experience of intimate moments. This has been true from the beginning, even before we signed Sunny Leone.

How did COVID-19 impact the condom category and Manforce Condoms?

There was no major impact on production, distribution or sales. For the condoms category, normally chemists keep stock for three to four months. During the pandemic, due to the financial crisis, they were buying stock as per the immediate sale requirements. So, chemists who were earlier bought 10 or 20 pieces were buying only 3 to 4 pieces. They would order every few days instead of stocking up. Demand is there in the market and overall there has been no impact or shortage.