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Has 2016 been light on innovation?

eroFame is always a platform for new developments and trends in the adult market. The trade convention is essentially an entire year of products condensed into three days. And of course, that also includes the latest innovations. But some people felt that this year, there weren’t all that many innovative products. Sure, assessments like that are always subjective, but seeing that quite a few eroFame visitors shared this sentiment, one can’t dismiss it out of hand. But at the same time, one might wonder: Does the industry really need big game changers every year?

matze_pc_webMatthias Poehl

Apart from the fact that I feel 2016 has actually seen several innovations in the sex toy segment if you take a closer look, I wonder: How often does this market need a revolution in the form of utterly and completely innovative products? We all remember when We-Vibe hit the shelves, basically creating a new product category – couples’ toys – thus pushing wide open the door to new consumer groups who had not been interested in such products before. Then there’ s the womanizer, clearly a major innovation that will continue to influence the market for a long time. And we also have to mention Fun Factory and Jimmyjane with their design-oriented toys, and Fleshlight in the masturbator segment – I know that’s a little different, but let’s be honest, had it not been for Fleshlight, we’d never have gotten to this point where people are calling 2016 the year of male toys.

Of course, there have been other innovations these past years, and I make no claim that my list is complete, but I hope it shows that the market can also grow and evolve without a ground-breaking product shaking things up every single year. The impact of the aforementioned products can still be felt in today’s market, and will be felt for years to come. But in the wake of these game changers, we have seen other, minor innovations such as new features, new design ideas, new or different materials – all these things that flesh out product categories, attract new customer groups, create media interest and so on.

The market as a whole benefits from these smaller developments as new avenues are fully explored, and that ultimately also benefits the consumers. Changes and revolutions require time. Seeing how the market has changed over the course of the past years, one might be inclined to think that several revolutions took place at the same time and that the market has evolved at breakneck pace. And if you look at the way the market was before all that – basically a male-dominated domain – and compare it to how we talk about couples’ toys and sexual wellness and women-friendly products now, the changes are unbelievable. The adult industry has basically been transformed, and game-changing products like the ones mentioned above played a major part. But no matter how rapid the succession of changes seems in hindsight, this evolution happens one step at a time. So even if there is no big game changer, the evolution continues.

The market has to be careful not to get ahead of itself. Therefore, I don’t think we need to be overly critical here. Yes, 2016 may not have brought us a ground-breaking innovation, but we got new ideas nonetheless. And I am sure that somewhere, somebody’s already working on the next idea that is going to catapult the adult industry forward, the same way it’s happened in the past.