KamaSutra took a bold step in November 2004. It repackaged brand packs by
strategically covering the provocative pictures.This did two things: it ensured
Market Ask an Indian what he associates condoms with and the chances are that he’d respond with “birth control.” That response is possibly the result of years of conditioning and, perhaps, in large measure to the self-denial mode many Indians find themselves in. When KamaSutra was being launched a series of propositions was examined. The one that showed the most promise also had the most amount of hard work built into it. KamaSutra spurned the obvious marketing strategy and sat the entire equation on its head. Rather than make condoms a matter of forced need, 1991 KamaSutra worked on the philosophy that condoms were, in the main, pleasure givers – even as they fulfiled the role of prophylactics. In that sense prevention took on a secondary role and 1993 pleasure, the 104
primary. This was very different from the way they had been perceived all along and accounted for the increased effort that would need to be made to get users to see condoms from another perspective. To facilitate consumers buying into this point of view KamaSutra designed and created a vast range of pleasure-enhancing condoms. This positioning had the disadvantage of eliminating the bottom rung of condom-buyers and focussing only on the premium end of the segment. Since condoms were seen to be pleasure inhibitors the early days were difficult times. In this situation, distribution gained importance and chemists emerged as the most important outlet followed by general and departmental stores and small kiosks. Today, however, thanks to new strategies and initiatives – many of them driven by KamaSutra – the size of the Indian condom market has grown to about 850 million pieces per annum. Of this, 250 million are in the premium segment. KamaSutra enjoys nearly 18% of the total market.(Source: ACNielsen) It is the second largest commercial player in the branded segment. KamaSutra condoms are exported to over 70 countries including Philippines, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Romania. The company also supplies condoms under the European Union and World Bank funded programmes. The condom market in India has come a long way from the 1950s and 1960s when the government encouraged family planning by distributing free condoms and promoting female contraception. In the absence of local manufacturers the condoms distributed then were imported. The 1970s saw a shift in focus from female contraceptives like oral pills to male contraception, with condoms gaining prominence. Today, the Indian market is highly fragmented. There are over 200 brands available in India with the majority of them being regional. Given the challenges of birth control and the emergence of HIV as a serious health threat India is a huge market for condoms. On the face of it, therefore, and with the government strenuously promoting the fact that condoms provide up to 98% protection from AIDS, it would appear that the condom story-of-success can be told literally off the hip.
Achievements KamaSutra dramatically re-positioned the condom industry scenario by striking a bold new posture. It changed people’s outlook from perceiving condoms as merely birth control and family planning devices to regarding them as
pleasure enhancers and passion triggers. Before 1991 condom brands were hush-hush products. They were never boldly advertised. KamaSutra then came out with its daring tagline, ‘For the pleasure of making love’. The condom had finally come out of its confining closet. The communications strategy for the brand now began to focus on pleasure rather than only on protected sex. It also took another far reaching step: it brought youth into focus and converted the condom from a staid married persona to a young, vibrant brand. As another stride in this direction KamaSutra introduced condom variants. This initiative totally revamped the condom market and injected new life into the category. The characterisation of the condom as a catalyst to lovemaking, as opposed to a pleasure inhibitor, took the market by storm. In the competitive condom industry, where every player strives to build brands by titillating the consumer through graphic skin shows, KamaSutra took a bold step in November 2004. It repackaged brand packs by strategically covering the provocative pictures. This did two things: it ensured better retail shelf space and at the same time it reduced customer embarrassment By revolutionising condom marketing in India the brand earned professional respect as well as customer support. Today, KamaSutra is recognised as a high quality product and sold from stores in major international markets. KamaSutra is among the three largest condom brands in the world.
History The name Kama Sutra is familiar across the world as a treatise associated with kindling desire, igniting passion, triggering the senses and unabashed advice on sexual techniques. In the 4th century AD, the ancient Indian sage Vatsyayana wrote the volume on the ‘Science of love’ that was to become the world’s most
comprehensive and potent textbook on lovemaking. This ancient book title became the brand name of one of the most significant consumer product launches in India in the spring of 1991. KamaSutra, the new age condom, changed not only public attitudes but also the product and the product profile. With added features, variants and appeal, KamaSutra became India’s second largest selling condom brand.
Product KamaSutra condoms, made from natural rubber latex with reservoir end styling are available in translucent or clear and plain or textured types, which are 100% electronically tested. KamaSutra was the first brand to launch textured and shaped condoms – dotted, contoured and ribbed and ultra thin; remarkably, all these introductions happened within one year of the brands’ launch. The KamaSutra range also features dotted, ribbed and contoured condoms for evolved consumers; KamaSutra LongLast, Intensity, SuperThin, Xtra Pleasure for mature consumers and KSSmooth for first time users. For fun loving consumers KamaSutra offers flavoured condoms like strawberry, peppermint and mixed berry. A special offering for newly wed couples is the KamaSutra Honeymoon pack.
Recent Developments KamaSutra pioneered a unique packaging style with the introduction of the new IN & OUT and Wraparound packs, which have become a huge success in terms of looks and convenience for consumers. This unique packaging is not only visually appealing, but is also suggestive of the experience of undressing before making love. Keeping pace with information technology, KamaSutra launched a website in March 2001 through which consumers could find and purchase attractively priced sensual gifts, flowers and cosmetics – and purchase KamaSutra condoms delivered discreetly to their homes. KamaSutra further spiced up the art of lovemaking with an innovative concept of sextoons printed on the pack of KSSmooth – the variant designed exclusively for amateurs. With cutting edge humour, a perfect fit for the brand, KamaSutra aims to package safe sex messages to the youth.
Promotion KamaSutra aimed its marketing strategy at the convenience of the consumers by implementing the ‘Just ask for KS’ line which made it the most pronounced and conveniently asked for brand at the
retail level. The product’s advertising has always been unique. Keeping target groups in mind it shunned the prudish ads of its competitors for a more in-your-face stance. Over the years, KamaSutra has been using print, TV, cinema, outdoor, events and NGO associations for promoting the brand by incorporating an aggressive freshness in its approach. The ads feature young male models, famous for their macho personality, specially handpicked to convey brashness and sex appeal, while the female models are the presiding beauty divas of the time. Together they cast an image of desire with their portrayal of lovemaking as a sensual, pleasurable act. KamaSutra uses suggestive photographs instead of nude pictures to attract attention. The ads contain quotes from the original Kama Sutra manuscript to make them authentic and provide a feeling of credibility. Brand signals such as sperm-like squiggles and wavy borders were included to add to the overall effect. Owing to the private and sensuous nature of the product, KamaSutra used print media very effectively, keeping in mind the responsibility it has towards Indian culture and its social obligations. 2004 To seek association with a young and vibrant image, KamaSutra started the concept of sponsoring youth events. Right from its launch in 1991 it has sponsored events such as Valentine’s Day, college fests, live pop or rock shows. At the same time, the company fulfils its role as a responsible corporate citizen by associating itself with NGOs to combat and address the issue of sexrelated diseases.
Brand Values KamaSutra personifies a new liberation in attitude and behaviour that is sweeping India’s youth. An individualistic ‘attitude brand’ and
‘pleasure enhancer’ with its byline, ‘For the pleasure of making love’, KamaSutra has been successful in creating an image different from that of other condom brands which have been highlighting the functionality or medical aspects of condoms, emphasising the anti-HIV/AIDs properties or simply as a family planning tool. KamaSutra condoms have positioned themselves in the premium category reflecting an individualistic persona – sophisticated, glamorous, mature, confident, bold, proactive, charged, sensually indulgent and sexually competent. While the other brands by and large focus on married couples, KamaSutra has evolved a brand personality that associates simply with couples. When history books are written KamaSutra will be recognised as the brand that singularly changed the condom market in India. It will be seen as the brand that brought sexuality out of the closet and placed it firmly in the shelves of millions of shops.
THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT
KamaSutra Much before the print ads made their impact, KamaSutra launched a teaser hoarding that read:The Beginnings of a New Sexual Revolution. After a lot of back and forth offers to Pooja Bedi (the original choice for the female model), the contract was signed with Rachel Reuben (a top model during that time). However, a week before the scheduled shoot Rachel backed out and it was back to Pooja who became the face of the advertising campaign. Debonair’s complete issue on KamaSutra advertisements was an absolute hit and became a collectors’ item. The KamaSutra squiggles were a hot topic of discussion. Were they two snakes, or were they sperms or just a depiction of a man and woman? In reality, when they were created, no one really thought of them in any other way except that of an interesting design concept. The advertising agency – Lintas – refused to present or entertain any alternatives for the brand name and the creative communication. Their only option was KamaSutra – and KamaSutra it has remained.