Sex Toy Manufacturers Talk Gay Market Trends
As 2016 continues to unfold, manufacturers are rolling out more toys and sexy gear for gay couples and for solo use. Product creators are weighing in on the evolution of this category.
According to Ryan Fraga, director of sales and marketing at Oxballs, one of the most appealing new products for gay couples — and one that he notes is also popular with straight couples — is the Daddy Cock Sheath. “It’s a realistic cock extender sheath with a full ball sack,” he explains. Another popular couples product for Oxballs is the Cock Lock chastity soft cage. Solo sex toys popular for gay males include jerk-off and nipple sucker toys, cock rings and ball stretchers. “Sounding has become more popular for us as well,” Fraga reports. “We’re one of the only manufacturers who make silicone sounds, and these are great for entry-level play.” Fraga says straight men find the same types of products attractive. “Straight men are intrigued by the same kinds of toys gay men are,” he says. For Oxballs, there’s crossover in marketing to the gay and straight communities as well. “The goals in marketing to men in general are pretty universal; men want to be bigger, stronger, firmer, have more enjoyable and longer lasting sex, and to do things to their partner’s hole, not to be too vulgar.” Oxballs participates in gay and gay pride consumer events and a variety of other events in communities to promote their name.
Popular fetishes within the gay community include BDSM, bondage, puppy-play, watersports, chastity, double penetration, and other power-play scenarios, according to Fraga. “We continue to focus on developing many toys for specific types of play, for example, we have our new Pup-Tails for puppy play, as well as some other CBT-type toys coming soon.” While gay men have long been open to toys, in recent years Fraga says he has seen straight men seeking a collection of toys just like gay men.
At Perfect Fit, chief marketing officer Rob Reimer says, “The most exciting thing we are doing is expanding and streamlining our strap-on line of products, and moving everything under the Zoro brand.” Perfect fit is adding a black version of the silicone Zoro in a 5.5 and 6.5 inch length, and changing the waistband to a leg strap instead of thong style, based on customer feedback. “We’re updating our entire waistband system and including one standard size with all products. Consumers can purchase larger or smaller versions,” he explains.
Reimer says Perfect Fit is also introducing a new system to buy, fit and store a new line of premium silicone cock rings. “They’re called the Play Zone, and are packaged as a set of nine rings that fit on a miniature orange traffic cone. It’s very fun and sexy.” The sized-by-number rings will also be available in three-ring kits in various sizes.
Reimer says he views the most popular solo sex toys for gay males as dildos and butt plugs, and doesn’t see that changing. Although his company sees more straight men experimenting, he doesn’t believe these types of items will ever be as popular with straight men.
As far as marketing goes, while the LGBT community may be a smaller segment for some manufacturers, it’s a large one for Perfect Fit. “Our marketing techniques are the same for both gay and straight markets, but the outlets sometimes are different. Also, direct communication to the community contributes to higher returns in terms of referrals and loyalty purchases for us.
Pride events in general have been a huge part of the growth of our brand. Being a fairly new company, we try and focus on gathering as many email addresses as possible at consumer events to build that part of our business. Also, just participating in events like IML, MAL and Folsom is an important part of supporting the community.”
Reimer says the gay toy category and consumers have both evolved. “More and more people are coming out and want to experiment with sex toys. Of course there is a huge evolution in the way people are hooking up with apps like Scruff and Grindr. There are now boxes you can check on your profile that basically say ‘yes, I like sex toys.’ Introducing sex toys to your sex life is fun and more mainstream than ever.”
Overall, Reimer notes, “There’s been a massive swing away from cheap products to toys that actually enhance your sex life, and as a result, sales of men’s toys are going through the roof.”
Kathryn Hartman, sales and marketing director for Nasstoys, says the company’s newest products for couples include Super Silicone Cock Kits. “The kits contain a five-ounce tube of Sta Hard or Strawberry Anal Ese paired with a trio of three black, high-quality silicone cock rings in three different circumferences,” Hartman says. In the solo sex toy category, several new products appeal. “Our beautiful new Transsexual Love Doll Angie is unique to the market with her suckable, ridable vibrating cock, her penetrable mouth and safety-sealed anus,” Hartman says. “Yes, you get to be her first. Her realistic photo-finish face and huge pink-tipped breasts make her very attractive to men who wish to explore the ‘third sex.’” Men of any gender preference are attracted to Nasstoys’ RAM Up and Down Anal Satisfier in Black or Red, according to Hartman, which she describes as “a six-inch, three-speed stroking toy which adheres firmly to any smooth surface, designed for men who love to have a powerful P-Spot orgasm.”
Because Nasstoys has wide product diversity, the company reaches many different types of retail locations, websites and news services that drive their gay collections to LBGT consumers. “We participate in banner advertising with gay news services like JRL, and are supportive of our distributors’ participation in community events that promote our brands,” Hartman says. “Showing the gay community that we recognize and support them, and that we appreciate their support in return, helps establish our brand within the community. Many retailers like The Pleasure Chest, Babeland, The Garden and The Chamber all have very loyal LBGT customer bases. Our goal is to support these businesses with more product education, and create products based on their ideas and suggestions. Both developing products and marketing them, we try to arouse but not to offend while still making it fun and sexy.”
Hartman adds that, “Diversity in human sexuality is infinite — you never run out of new ideas or collections. Our most valued consumer is one who never wants to stop exploring.”
Andrew Quaintance, in charge of business-to-business relations at Channel 1 Releasing, says the company just launched Boneyard Products for gay couples. According to Quaintance, the collection targets edgy gay males. Boneyard Products offers cock rings that can be purchased in a graduated five-pack or as singles.
“They are all 100 percent soft and stretchy silicone, each ring is stamped with the size, and anti-roll,” Quaintance said. As far as solo toys go, strokers are always popular, Quaintance asserts; and the only difference between gay and straight male choices in this category is the style, depending on orientation. “Obviously if it is anatomical, then an anus may be preferred over a vagina.”
For marketing to the gay community, Quaintance recommends store owners create a section that “is not necessarily gay or straight but just geared to men. Test it and expand from there.” He believes that participating in gay or pride consumer events is important for manufacturers. “The community needs to know you’re there so they can support you. But the more commercial these events become the less effective they are.”
Quaintance says he sees the gay toy category evolving in terms of improved quality. “Silicone, odorless design, and durability are all things the gay consumer is looking for.”
The fetish market has also evolved. “I think everyone is dabbling more in the S&M arena, both gay and straight. We launched the XR Dungeon in our Chi Chi LaRue’s store in West Hollywood, Calif. with XR Brands, and it is a big hit.” Chi Chi LaRue’s is operated by drag diva Chi Larue, who co-owns Channel 1 Releasing, creating a built-in venue for launching new products.
In short, quality gay product sales are an expanding market for manufacturers, as are men’s toys for both straight and gay males.