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article imageCondom exec Joe Nelson: one-size-fits-all condoms are bollocks Special

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By Tucker Cummings     Mar 12, 2012 in Business
You wouldn’t wear a pair of shoes that were too tight, or a pair of pants that were two sizes too big. That’s why self-styled "Condom Revolutionary" Joe Nelson founded TheyFit, a company with a line of custom condoms that come in 95 unique sizes.
Nelson says he stocks condoms that perfectly fit 99.9 percent of men. After years of research and development, TheyFit condoms finally went on sale December 7, 2011. And within 72 hours, every single size was sold out. It was a moment of validation for Nelson, who left a job at Goldman Sachs in order to focus on his new venture.
“After 10 years of banking, it was time for a change,” Nelson says. “I discussed it with my long term girlfriend Joanne and we both agreed it was worth a shot.”
Nelson says that while over 30 million condoms are used every day around the globe, at least 45% of men say they are unhappy with how a condom contours to their anatomy (and Nelson estimates that figure is low, since many men might not think "fit problems" are a valid complaint.)
Other condom brands also offer an extended range of sizes, but Nelson explained that those offerings can be deceiving. “A popular British brand markets an ‘XL’ condom that is shockingly just 1mm wider than their standard condom,” Nelson reveals.
“I use the analogy of shoes,” Nelson explains. “I am a UK size 10 shoe. You could give me the fanciest Prada loafer made from the finest Italian leather, with coloured laces and other such gimmicks – but if it wasn’t a size 10 it simply wouldn’t be comfortable and I wouldn’t want to wear it. A condom that is too small will feel tight, a condom that is too big will be more likely to slip off. Neither of those things will encourage a guy to put it on such a sensitive part of their anatomy.”
Despite only launching a few months ago, TheyFit condoms have already made quite a splash. Consumer Reports gave TheyFit a perfect score of 100 points, while one product tester for Cargo Magazine said wearing TheyFit was “like wearing nothing at all.”
So, how do you select the size that’s right for you? Simply visit their site, print out their “FitKit,” and follow the instructions to find your size. There are 95 different length and width combinations available, and each is assigned a judgement-free alphanumeric code to keep your personal dimensions encoded. The size codes are placed on removable stickers on each package, and once removed all packets/foils look identical, providing another layer of privacy.
TheyFit condoms are currently only available in latex, but Nelson says the company has plans to release a latex-free version in the future to accommodate customers with latex allergies. Also in the works: getting FDA approval so that the condoms can be sold stateside. Currently, TheyFit are only approved for sale in the EU, with Nelson reporting sales to customers in 24 of the 27 EU member countries so far.
A pack of 6 TheyFit condoms costs £6.99 (about $10.95 in US currency), and shipping is free to the UK. In comparison, an online condom shop in the UK sells 12-packs of Trojan XL condoms for £9.99, including VAT. But according to Joe Nelson, converting men to the more expensive TheyFit condoms isn’t hard work.
“Once guys try out our condoms, the reorder rate is very high with many people returning pretty quickly to buy in bulk,” he explains. “It’s always a tough challenge to convert people to new concepts – but it’s fun and very satisfying when we receive such positive feedback from them. Many people describe using a comfortable condom for the first time as a revelation, and life-changing.”
And it’s that very revelation that using condoms can be both safe and pleasurable that Nelson hopes will attract customers who generally don’t use condoms for intercourse.
“For guys who don’t use condoms at all, we often find this is because of previous bad experiences with them, not because they are risk-seeking when it comes to sex," Mr. Nelson says. "We make considerable effort to explain to them the benefits of the fitted condom approach, including the impact on comfort and pleasure, and that converts a lot of them.”
When used correctly, the CDC says male condoms have a 98 percent success rate for preventing unwanted pregnancy and using a condom vastly reduces the risk of transmitting an STD. A condom that fits correctly is less likely to break or slip off during intercourse, making sex safer.
“I believe that when given the choice between having good, unsafe sex or bad, safe sex men around the world will invariably choose the former – and alcohol encourages that decision,” argues Nelson. “What TheyFit do is offer the opportunity to have good safe sex...Improve the fit and you will improve the comfort – thereby encouraging use of the condom in the first place!”
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