Q&A: With recent acquisition, LifeStyles is in 'growth mode'
With news that Ansell's condoms unit would soon be sold to CITIC Capital and Humanwell, Drug Store News spoke with Jeyan Heper, new LifeStyles CEO, and Carol Carrozza, VP markting sexual wellness, at the recent National Association Chain Drug Stores Total Store Expo to get a sense of what retailers and the industry can expect from Ansell in the coming year.
Here's what they had to say.
Drug Store News: Who is CITIC Capital and Humanwell and what's their interest in LifeStyles and the intimacy health market?
Jeyan Heper: We sold the [LifeStyles] business with a high, it’s public information, $600 million [or] 16 times EBITDA, which is very high for the category. CITIC Capital and Humanwell is a Chinese consortium that is a healthcare company and big private equity. They want growth.
DSN: What does that mean for the U.S. market? And what’s the timeline?
Heper: We have new product ranges coming. [For example], Lifestlyes Zero is the new product that’s being launched now. It’s the thinnest that we have and that is going to be [a significant point of differentiation] for our consumers in the market.
Carol Carrozza: It’s latex, but it’s the thinnest latex on the market.
Heper: And we have it now in Safeway. It is just starting now. We are producing it as we speak.
DSN: How do you define "thinnest?" What does that mean for the consumer?
Carrozza: It’s 45 microns. Sixty is the average in the industry. This is the thinnest from our end. People perceive condoms to be desensitizing. The perception is the thinner it is the closer you can get to your partner, so the more you feel heat transfer, so it feels more like a natural body.
DSN: This is coming out now?
Heper: Yes. We have it at Safeway. We’re going to have it at more retailers. We are an innovative company in the U.S. market. If you look at our range of products from Skyn to LifeStyles, we have new products every year in the Skyn range. Last year it was eight. [In addition to LifeStyles Zero], Cocktail Club is coming from Skyn, this is the scented Skyn condom, so it is with pina colada, cherry sunrise and passion daiquiri. It’s giving consumers an extra benefit through the experience, to make the whole setting more pleasant. This will launch in January.
DSN: How do scented condoms resonate in a conservative market like the U.S.?
Heper: There are two insights. The smell of the [non-scented] product for some consumers is not that pleasant, so this offers something unique in that area. In other parts of the world, scented condoms are quite big. If you go to Brazil, for example, a significant part of the market is scented. In the U.S. it’s very small, 2% of the market. But there is still a need here. Because it is so underdeveloped in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world, we take that as an opportunity to bring it to the U.S. consumers and introduce them to the scented condoms.
DSN: How does condom usage break out by demographic?
Heper: The biggest usage is millennials. ... All consumer age groups are using it, but for us the biggest interaction we have is with millennials. There we are the experts in the category; we know millennials very well. We take the pulse of the millennials and design our products accordingly.
DSN: So what are millennials looking for?
Heper: They want to have the best experience. Everything they do is quality vs. quantity. They want the best of everything. When it comes to intimacy, Skyn offers the best, because it is the product where you can feel everything. … It is the brand of the millennials, because it offers them the best experience.
DSN: Historically the condom category has skewed 70% male purchasers. Is that still the case with millennials?
Heper: It’s changing. Females are increasing because they are empowered. It used to be the man’s responsibility to bring condoms into the sexual [relationship]. Now women are also making the decision. Skyn is more 50/50. Our sex survey shows that it’s 50/50.
Carrozza: We’ve been doing the sex survey for four years now and even in that four years, we’ve seen it shift. The baby boomers are still purchasing 70/30.
Heper: [Millennials] are going to shift a lot of paradigms on this category in the future. Things are a lot more open; it’s not taboo anymore, having a condom in your pocket. Thanks to the millennials it’s OK to talk about their lives, their experiences, their intimate moments, that makes the category more accessible now.
DSN: Are there more trade up opportunities within intimacy health with the millennial consumer as the premier purchaser?
Heper: Today, the fastest growing segments are personal lubricants and massage products in the sexual wellness category. Sexual wellness is a $4.5 billion category. … For us, the big opportunity is to link these products to our condom range. The mission for us is to bring consumer-friendly, natural products to the market, and this is what we’re doing.
DSN: So now that LifeStyle is under new ownership, what’s the bottom line?
Heper: LifeStyles is very good at animating the first moment of truth, which is the point-of-sale in the store, that environment. We bring a lot of discrete and powerful messages to the shelf, and that helps uplift the category. Best practices are coming from France, Poland, Chile, Argentina, where you see customers benefit significantly from in-store communications when the innovation is explained properly.
Carrozza: Retailers need to understand, this isn’t [only] about sexual health, it’s about everybody’s personal health from top to bottom. So don’t be afraid to support in store, and we can help you do it in a discrete way.