How Trojan has adapted to changes in hookup culture

"Sexplore at Home" has been getting singles to embrace self-love and helping couples make the most of their free time.

A recent Psychology Today article posited that a pandemic silver lining are some of the behavioural changes people have undergone when it comes to sex, such as more carefully vetting partners, being more thoughtful about what they want and getting creative about satisfying desires.

Those changes are something Trojan has been trying to adapt to with its “Sexplore at Home” campaign, trying to find new places for its products as singles and couples have both changed their habits.

The four-part campaign began like those many brands across categories put out at the outset of the pandemic, with messaging about safety guidelines and using social channels to point users in the direction of credible health sites while condom demand slowed. These were particularly geared towards singles, with social messaging reminding them that they are their safest sex partner, or steering them to “virtual” options like sexting and webcams.

But then the brand turned its attention to singles who, being unable to meet anyone thanks to strict social distancing protocols, might be feeling the temptation to meet someone. For people who were getting tempting messages from a booty call or were planning to go out to “shoot their shot,” Trojan asked them to send it a sext instead, giving away self-care packages containing products more geared to singles, such as vibrators and lube, while curating a “Self Love” playlist on Spotify.

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Then, it reminded couples in relationships and living together that being at home together gave them more time for getting amorous. In its latest phase, it is addressing all the new norms of hookup culture with “& Chill,” a campaign.

“We found that consumer behaviour as it relates to hookup culture and dating has shifted during the pandemic, so a term like ‘Netflix and chill’ and its relation to sex and intimacy is more relevant than ever,” says Gregory Major, head of marketing for Trojan parent company Church & Dwight.

Rather than “moving on” from singles stuck at home, each phase of the “Sexplore at Home” campaign has taken the most important parts and layered them on top of each other .

Based on a popular sex euphemism, “& Chill,” opens with a dramatic two-minute Game of Thrones-type sequence, followed by a 47-minute credit roll, getting to the “and chill” part of a date much sooner. The scrolling, jokey text references situations singles and couples might be finding themselves in, interspersed with relevant product references.

Despite the changes in sex and intimacy over the last six months, Major says both singles and couples have remained interested in sexual exploration, and that “& Chill” – and all of the messages it has put out during “Sexplore at Home” – have been about encouraging that exploration, while weaving in information about  roughly a dozen different SKUs, including non-condom products. The brand was already in a good place to do that, as Major says Trojan had already been evolving with the market to reflect the fact that consumers are not just looking for protection, but for the best sexual experiences more broadly.

Trojan worked with Forsman & Bodenfors Canada, The Vanity and Eggplant Music & Sound to create “& Chill,” with Wavemaker on media and Veritas on PR and influencer partnerships.

Trojan’s primary target is men between 18 and 24 years old. “Sexplore at Home” has also represented the fact that the demo is less likely to be consuming traditional media, Major says. That’s why much of  reaching out to that core demo through more relevant touchpoints, like social.

The release of “& Chill” is meant to be an attention-grabbing execution to coincide with back to school, one of the bigger investment times of the year for condom brands – behind Valentine’s Day and long weekends – with a majority of their target audiences either going into, or currently being enrolled in post-secondary education.

With its digital and social strategy, the brand is going to be acknowledging that back-to-school is going to be very different this year, especially for singles affected by social distancing. It is positioning its lubricants as a post-secondary necessity, promoting Trojan as the “Official Study Buddy” for the class of 2021, and once again partnering with the Sex Information & Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN) to add pandemic sexual health information into communications about general safe sex practices.

While social distancing slowed the condom category over the last few months, at the onset of the pandemic, Major says condoms were included in pantry loading, resulting in a short spurt of growth (especially via ecommerce). He says it is now gradually bouncing back as the economy reopens – while casual encounters with new partners still seem to be in clear violation of social-distancing bubbles, public health officials in different jurisdictions have also been issuing guidelines for how to engage in sex in a safe way – some more attention-grabbing than others. Over the last 52 weeks, the brand claims a 53% market share in Canada.