Fri, 04 Jul 2003

Durian condom penetrating market

Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

"Wouldn't it hurt?" asked a man, who had the notion that it was a durian-textured condom launched on Thursday and not a condom that has the scent of the spiky fruit.

Why would anyone sell a product with the fragrance of the durian fruit, whose pungent presence is banned in some five-star hotels? It has been called the King of Fruits so maybe the condom will find the same buyers that think there is nothing better than durian.

It started as a joke. Why are there no durian-flavored condoms when other flavors like strawberry, mint and banana can be purchased?

So DKT Indonesia, an anti-AIDS organization in charge of distributing Sutra condoms, developed the idea and came up with Durian Flavored Fiesta Condoms.

Surprisingly when the Washington-based organization launched pre-distributions of the condom in Indonesia mid last month as many as 150,000 pieces flew off the shelves.

"Probably only the new Harry Potter book beat us in terms of sale speed and volume," Teguh Budiono, the DKT product brand manager, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

He said the non-governmental organization is targeting sales at 576,000 durian-flavored condoms in Indonesia by the end of this year.

The biggest market for the condom is Greater Jakarta, which is expected to absorb at least 51 percent of the nationwide market's shares.

The non-profit-oriented organization has been promoting the use of condoms among Indonesians with HIV/AIDS.

Government officials here said there were 3,614 cases of HIV/AIDS reported in March 31, 2002. But independent sources said the number hit some 130,000 cases, with 80,000 diagnosed this year alone.

The quick spread was blamed on the low rate of high-risk groups of people using condoms.

"The problem with condom promotion in Indonesia is that people here are really embarrassed to talk about it. So when you have a durian condom it's just something funny," Budiono said.

"Now we can get people to talk about condoms with their friends and families because it's no longer just about sex," he added.

The new product is sold for Rp 4,000 (approximately 48 U.S. cents) for a pack of three.

However there will be no condom commercials on TV or radio as Budiono believes word of mouth will suffice.

He said his organization is happy to accommodate new ideas if they encourage the use of condoms among high-risk groups.

"Why are there no rendang flavored-condoms?" a customer asked.

"Maybe in the future there will be condoms with rujak flavor or marinated chicken flavor," he smiled.

If so, maybe the only competitor for Sutra condoms will be Indomie's instant noodles.