Is 2016 the year of male toys?
In the previous issue of EAN, Lovehoney’s Commercial Director Ray Hayes said that 2016 would be the year of the male toy, and many developments in the market support his optimistic prediction. However, there are also some valid counterarguments that could dampen this euphoria.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way: There is no denying that the number of male-oriented toys has gone up in recent months. More and more masturbators, prostate massagers, and VR (Virtual Reality) porn solutions are vying for the attention of the male consumers. The first deduction to be made from this observation is that competition in the male segment will become fiercer.But does this also mean that there will be greater interest on the part of the consumers? Google Trends is a nice yardstick to gauge this development, and if you look at it, you’ll come to the conclusion that, yes, indeed, interest in “sex toys for men” has continuously gone up for years. However, if you compare these queries with the number of users searching for “sex toys for women”, you will see a very similar growth curve. Put differently: Interest in sex toys is increasing in general, so having more people looking for male sex toys is a natural consequence.
When toys for women went through the roof, that was accompanied by the removal of old taboos surrounding vibrators and dildos. Owning such a toy has become something women and couples can admit to without having to feel awkward and without getting sidelong glances. When it comes to masturbators or subscriptions to VR porn sites, we have not nearly reached that same level of acceptance yet. Sure, as the range of products for men grows, acceptance will increase, but we still have a long way to go (at least in Europe) before we reach a level that’s at least halfway comparable to the acceptance of female toys. This is also reflected in the fact that products for women and couples are still very much the face of the industry. A man buying a vibrator as a present for his wife or girlfriend, that’s not a rarity anymore. The other way around? Yes, that definitely is a rarity.
So will 2016 be the year of the male toy? Ultimately, that depends on the products we’re going to get. The developments of past years have reaped positive effects in the market, and it seems pretty obvious that all the changes we’ve seen among female-oriented products – i.e. changes in usability, functionality, design, and aesthetics – will also take hold in the segment for male toys soon.
Ultimately, however, all this talk about the year of male toys is more about the marketing strategies of certain companies and less about a general trend in the industry. Does that mean that will things stay the same in our market? Certainly not. The number of products for male consumers will definitely increase by leaps and bounds – especially in the VR porn and masturbator segments. However, toys for women and couples will continue to dominate the market for months (and, more likely, years) to come. The adult industry in 2016 is still a long way from an even 50% female toys, 50% male toys ratio.
Anybody who strolled through the halls of eroFame in the past two years can attest that, apart from high-tech toys, there is another big trend coming our way, namely: sex toys for men. Sure, they have been around forever, and several of the leading brands in this segment have been doing fine for many years, but given the sheer number of new products catering to men, it is quite obvious that there’s something big on the horizon.Ultimately, it is secondary if this product category has its big breakthrough in 2016 or maybe the year after. What matters is, this breakthrough will come, and soon. And the great thing: Producers, distributors, and wholesalers of this industry are already well-prepared to meet the growing demand for male-oriented toys. So now that the female audience has mustered enough confidence to freely embrace and live out their sexuality – which has been the result of several coinciding factors such as social changes and media influence -, it’s time for men to have their turn. Taboos and rigid, deadlocked perceptions will fall, attitudes will change, and a large share of men will come to understand the advantages, the fun, and the satisfaction of using male toys.
The motto is: If women can do it, men can do it, too. There is one big difference, however: It still remains to be seen if the media get on board and help this product category achieve its full potential. The way things look right now, it seems as if producers, wholesalers, and retailers may have to fend for themselves. That makes it all the more important that they work together to create awareness for their products among the male customers. In our day and age, most people know enough about sexuality to see that self-gratification contributes to sexual wellbeing, and that this is just as true for men as it is for women. So why not give it a try and buy a masturbator, the new Sqweel XT, or another product?
There are many factors that will help male toys reach another level of popularity, most prominently among them the fact that the market has already been focused on couples as a key audience for years. Yes, we may shake our heads at the some of the products that are advertised as couples toys, but there is a clear tendency – sex toys are often bought by couples. It is pretty obvious why this could have positive effects on the sales of male-oriented sex toys. After all, if a couple is open enough to enter an adult store or visit an adult online shop together, and they come upon a fair and appealing product for male pleasure, why wouldn’t they buy it? Here’s the thing: At the end of the day, products for men can also be used together, just like you can use female-oriented toys with a partner. As long as both parties are into it, anything goes. It will definitely be interesting to see how this product category develops throughout the next months, and to see if 2016 will truly be the ‘year of male toys’. The stage is certainly set.