Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Condoms and Consumer Power

Name a condom brand.

Now name a brand other than Trojan.

Okay, Durex, Lifestyles.... Is that it? How many condom brands are there? Well, safer sex supply distributor Global Protection sells 21 brands. Yeah. 21. Did you know that? Hmm, but Trojan is still the best, right? Well, the Women’s Center buy condoms from Global Protection and sells them on campus for 10 cents. The average price for a Trojan condom on the market (from a pharmacy, etc.) appears to be < 40 cents per condom. Price isn't everything, but it's something.

Walgreens, as an example:

$1.49 for ONE Her Pleasure condom
$7.49 for THREE Supra Premium condoms (that’s about $2.50 per)
$4.79 for the same THREE Supra Premiums if you have a Walgreens card (that’s about $1.60 per)
$5.99 for THREE Magnum Premium condoms (~$2.00 per)
$13.49 for 12 Ultra Ribbed (~$1.25 per) OR $9.09 with a Walgreens card (~76 cents each)

 Okay. Maybe Walgreens is just expensive. Let’s try Amazon:

$2.49 $1.40 is the suggested retail for a 3-pack of Trojan ENZ … 83 cents 47 cents per condom
$3.95 for a 3-pack of Fire and Ice means about $1.32 per condom
$16.14 1.65 for a 3-pack of Ribbed

I’m sorry, but the original price is over 16 dollars? Seriously Trojan?

Okay, sorry, so that would have been $5.38 per condom, and instead is 55 cents per.

PRICE CHECK, that means for every Trojan condom you could buy, you could buy at least 4 condoms from the Women’s Center.

And yes, we sell Lifestyles. But, latex is latex, right? Yeah, it really is. Why is Trojan so damn expensive then? Maybe because they need to make up their advertising budget: recent US figures top $33 million. Maybe because they’re fighting off monopoly lawsuits under US anti-trust laws. Maybe because they think they can get away with charging way more for the same product. Maybe because they’re relying on consumers’ fear, discomfort and general lack of knowledge about the product they’re using.

We sell Lifestyles because, of the major three US condom brands (Trojan the Overseller, Durex the Leader of Condom Sales in Europe, and Lifestyles the Lonely Third Brand), Lifestyles is consistently rated highest in safety. The FDA requires a certain level of safety and all three brands exceed it – but Lifestyles does so the most. The Women’s Center prides itself on providing safety and education to the Ramapo student body. And, not for nothing, their unnecessary markups are paltry compared to the other two. Cost effectiveness matters when you’re a small public institution social justice center.

NOW YOU KNOW. Knowledge is power. Check out the brands – check out the options and choices available to you. Remember, you – as the consumer – drive the market for condoms and other safer sex supplies. You deserve safety, you deserve honesty in advertising, and you deserve reasonable prices.

For your reference, here’s a breakdown of the safer sex supplies we sell:

Lifestyles lubricated latex condoms 
Pleasure Shaped are bulbed at the tip, and the extra room allows for a particular sensation versus a standard condom; they are also ribbed
King XL have a larger ring at the base and are a bit longer
Ribbed are ribbed (duh)
Colors are standard, non-ribbed condoms with the basic shape – the condoms themselves are red, blue-green or yellow
Snugger Fit are more anatomically shaped (so yeah, “smaller” than a basic shape), thinner but still completely safe, and allow more sensation than a standard condom (also great for sex toys!)
Extra Strength are standard shape and slightly thicker to further increase safety (kind of the opposite of Snugger Fit)

Lifestyles Flavors latex condoms 
Banana, Strawberry and Vanilla are lubricated
Kiss of Mint are un-lubricated (the only non-lube condoms we sell)

Lifestyles SKYN non-latex condoms are lubricated and are made from polyisophrene – if you or your partner(s) have a latex allergy these are a great alternative to unsafe sex (10 cents at the WC!)

Lifestyles individual lube packets are also 10 cents each; dental dams are 25 cents

To review: for the original price of the $16.14 Trojan 3-pack, you could buy 161 condoms/lube packets (with 4 cents left over) or 64 dental dams (with 14 cents left over).

You now have more tools to be an informed consumer. I know it seems weird, but condoms are a consumer product. You wouldn’t just assume which car brand is best, or which type of car works best for you. It can be the same with condoms and other safer sex tools. Do some research. Take a test drive. Figure out what you like and why. If Trojan is what makes you feel most comfortable and most safe – great. Use Trojans. The most important thing is to be smart and safe. But if you can also be savvy, why not?

Want some more information about Trojan's anti-trust lawsuit? Read the court brief here.

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