Is the industry overly reliant on sex toys?
There are questions that are always topical in our industry, and one of them is: How can the adult market win over new consumer groups? While there are many strategies to extend the reach of the industry, sex toys always seem to be a part of it. Which leads to another question: Is this product category maybe too dominant in today’s market, or do other products provide enough balance?
Our industry is about more than sex. Lingerie is seduction, lubricants are part of sexual wellness, and condoms are health products, to give but a few examples, and they are all just as important as sex toys. After all, human needs and desires are complex and manifold and can’t be limited to a single product category. Still, sex toys seem to be a large part of the industry, and because so much attention is paid to them, sometimes, you might get the impression that they are at the very heart of the adult market.
However, there are reasons for that, and it’s a phenomenon that ultimately has a positive effect on the industry as a whole. One such reason is that this category is constantly evolving. Throughout the past years, the biggest advancements in technology, design, and functionality in the adult market could be seen in this field. Not everyone is a fan of interconnected, app-controlled internet toys, not everyone considers these new technologies useful and significant, but everyone has to agree that these are exciting developments, incorporating the latest advancements people also see other areas of their life. It’s something that consumers and also industry members talk about, something they have a strong opinion about. It simply doesn’t have the same public impact if you managed to make a condom ten micrometres thinner, or if you offered a lubricant in twenty flavours instead of just ten. What’s more, sex toys have only recently achieved a greater degree of acceptance and popularity, so they are more present in people’s minds, and therefore, more attention is paid to developments in this field.
Anybody accusing the industry of being overly reliant on sex toys also needs to bear in mind that these are indeed the defining products for many trade members. Movies can be streamed online, condoms can be bought at the local super market, and there are numerous drugstore chains that sell massage oils. But if you want to buy a vibrator, the obvious place to get it is the adult retail trade, be it brick and mortar store or online shop.
And, by the way, the adult industry focusing on sex toys is hardly an extraordinary phenomenon. Formula 1 is more exciting than a hybrid car, even though, at the end of the day, few people will put an F1 car in their garage. Or, for an example that’s closer to the topic we’re discussing: A new and better brake fluid will never be as interesting as a new car model – simply because it’s bigger and flashier and you the difference is plain to see
But of course that doesn’t mean that brake fluid isn’t important. It is – as are lubricants, etc. -, and it contributes greatly to a satisfying driving experience – just like lubricant make sexual experiences better. They are also constantly improved and optimized, and the whole industry is better off for it. Ultimately, important product categories would be missing if the adult industry focused entirely on sex toys. But it doesn’t. It’s just that sex toys are in the spotlight, and again, that is perfectly understandable. As a matter of fact, it makes the industry more interesting and exciting for the consumers. Which is something that’s great for all of us.
It really seems as though the balance between sex toys and other products – most notably lubricants, massage oils, food supplements, cosmetics and care products, bath additives, etc. – is skewed in favour of the former. The reasons are rather obvious. At the end of the day, this business is about making money, and therefore, the profit margin plays a big role. Another reason is that the media pay a lot of attention to various products from the toy segment while other products are usually just mentioned in the “also-ran” category, if at all.
Moreover, it would seem that the sex toy category is the perfect place for the adult industry to implement popular new technologies, innovations, and developments. Adding a new ingredient to a massage oil, however, will not change the public perception of this products. It’s still a massage oil, even if it has a new effect. But be that as it may, other products deserve attention as well, also and especially because things such as massage oils, lubricants, and the like have a clear and direct connection with sensuality, fun, and togetherness – which makes them perfect for winning over new spheres of consumers. And even though we all wish it were true, the notion that every consumer out there is open and ready to buy a vibrator or dildo is, alas, wishful thinking. Yes, many people are curious or maybe even consider doing something to take their intimate life to the next level, but there is no direct correlation between that desire and the willingness to reach for your wallet ad buy a sex toy. Winning over these consumers and getting them to a place where they are comfortable buying a first-class vibrator is a long process that needs to start with something smaller.
Creams, oils, and other products for intimate togetherness are the perfect means of opening the consumers’ eyes to the potential of the adult market and maybe get them interested in other products – such as toys. Lubes, oils, etc. are also perfect products for couples, i.e. one of the biggest and most wooed target audiences in this market. And since these products are also consumer goods, you need to buy a new lube on a regular basis, which means that the consumers will come back to the store or the online shop of their choice to get more of their favourite product.
Put differently, these products generate recurring sales. Of course, selling an expensive vibrator puts a bigger smile on a retailer’s face than selling a tube of lube, but when’s the consumer who bought the vibrator going to come back to the store to get another one? The tube of lube, however, will be put to good use, and once it’s empty, the consumer is going to buy another one. The best case scenario: The consumer enters the store or visits the online shop because he wants to get a lubricant, and ends up buying another product he’s stumbled upon as well. Of course, for that to happen, retailers have to offer the right product range, the right kind of advertisement, and professional support and advice since these things greatly influence the consumer’s decision to buy a certain product. And who knows, maybe a massage candle becomes the gateway to the world of sex toys.