Thumbs up and down

Are pop culture phenomena setting trends in the adult market?

The sequel to the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey will arrive in theatres in time for Valentine’s Day 2017, and Fifty Shades Darker, as the second film is called, will certainly create a lot of hoopla in the media. The conclusion to the trilogy is already scheduled for the spring of 2018, so we’ll be seeing a lot more of Anastasia and Christian throughout the next couple of years. But do pop culture phenomena like Fifty Shades really have a big impact on the adult market? Opinions in the industry – and at EAN – are divided.

matze_pc_webMatthias Poehl

Could there be anything better for our market than having products pushed into the consumers’ perception through mainstream phenomena? Maybe some of you remember how the popularity of rabbit vibrators skyrocketed following the escapades of Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Charlotte York, and Miranda Hubbes, the protagonists of the US hit show ‘Sex and the City’. No one can deny that the rabbit’s status as a classic of the adult market is owed at least in part to this TV show.

Then, of course, there was – and still is – Fifty Shades of Grey, first, the trilogy of novels, now the movie adaptations, complete with a well-oiled merchandising machine behind them. The Fifty Shades phenomenon will definitely go down in the annals of the adult industry because it made possible what had never really been achieved before: bringing together mainstream and adult markets. The success of the books, the movies, the official Fifty Shades adult products, and the media craze surrounding all of that are proof that Fifty Shades has struck a nerve with people all over the world. In the wake of this pop phenomenon, many consumers have begun opening up to SM or bondage or similar practices. Fifty Shades has motivated thousands upon thousands to look for new sexual adventures and experiment with ways to achieve satisfaction. People are feeling more free to live out any sexual desire that pleases them.

But this is not just about certain sexual techniques, not just about individual products. It is about sexuality as a whole, and the adult market as a whole. This type of pop culture phenomenon, be it caused by TV shows, films, books, or the internet, makes people more accepting of topics such as sex, eroticism, etc. – and not just for themselves or in the virtual space of the world wide web, but also within their social sphere and within society as a whole.

This results in the most wonderful thing: an open approach to a subject that was stricken with taboos in the past. And it is quite obvious that this development is important for the adult market in the long run, not just in those few months following the release of the latest Fifty Shades film when people rush into the stores looking for the products they saw on the big screen. Of course, skeptical eyes will always find something to find fault with, and yes, trends come and go, and sometimes, they don’t come back for several years and the adult industry has to endure a dry spell. It is also apparent that some members of the trade and industry benefit more from these afore-mentioned phenomena while others are not affected to the same degree. But there is no magical, perfect panacea that makes everybody happy. Unless maybe in a book or a movie.