Brand Building Differentiation Eco-brand Innovation Social Responsibility Storyboard

When Did Condom Brands Start Ignoring Cultural Trends?

April 29th, 2011

Why are condom and tampon brands so far behind the eco-friendly times?

A cultural shift has happened and it’s made us all increasingly aware of our social and environmental impact. The 2009 Global Edelman goodpurpose* study found that “83% (of consumers are) willing to change consumption habits if it can help make the world a better place to live.”

In 2009, 71% of consumers thought brands wasted too much money on marketing and advertising and reported that they’d like to see brands spending more money on good causes instead- a 10% increase from 2008.

Even the household cleaning aisle at our local grocers has reacted to our growing concern with eco-impact and social-consciousness, so we were shocked to realize how few environmental impact indicators appear in the feminine hygiene aisle.

When it comes to tampons, pads, condoms, personal lubricant, and panty liners it’s the (extremely) rare exception when the packaging indicates whether or not it’s recyclable, identifies whether it’s made from recycled materials, or actually helps consumers to make brand decisions based on eco impact.

Of all the different brands of tampons, pads, and liners carried by our friendly neighborhood Wegman’s- only 1 brand indicated that their boxes were made from recycled materials (credit here goes to O.B.). We understand why the feminine hygiene industry may be confused- pad wrappers and tampon applicators comprise the vast majority of the trash that finds its way into wastebaskets in ladies rooms the developed world over. That does not, however, mean that packaging shouldn’t be made from recycled materials. If toilet paper can be hygienically crafted from post-consumer materials, why can’t boxes and applicators?

It’s 2011, it isn’t a secret that women menstruate, and eco-conscious women will probably be willing to put tampon boxes out with their recycling, but condom boxes present an entirely different recycling challenge. Do you really want your neighbors to know how frequently, or infrequently, you’re running through your supply? Do you really want them to know whether you’re using Magnums or Snugger Fits? The new plastic packaging on LifeStyles Thyns does happen to indicate that the package is recyclable, but are mindful lovers going to put their vibrant eye-catching blue condom box out with the recycling? Or will it be discreetly nestled in the trash?

The new LifeStyles Thyns’ packaging may be recyclable, but it isn’t made from recycled materials- we checked. So, do plastic condom boxes have a greater or lesser environmental impact than cardboard boxes? The presence of recycling symbol isn’t actually an indicator of a products’ environmental impact. An eco-aware, customer-centric, socially responsible condom manufacturer would be using recycled materials, would be finding ways to overcome our recycling hesitations, and would be driving their industry through thought leadership.

The condom, lube, and feminine hygiene industries have failed to keep their finger on the pulse of our cultural evolution.

Once a condom manufacturer creates eco-friendly packaging and a corresponding advertising campaign that promotes their green values, the competition will likely follow suit. Price and function are the easiest differentiators to duplicate but Constant Innovation and Commitment to Values are highly unique differentiators that can’t be faked, contrived, or easily replicated. Thought leadership ensures that you won’t just be the first on the market- you’ll the first brand that comes to mind.

*goodpurpose. “Despite Prolonged Global Recession, an Increasing number of people are spending on brands that have social purpose: According to the 2009 Global Edelman goodpurpose™ Study.” New York, 2009; 21 (October).

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