Re-appropriating the wise words of Daft Punk, men want to be “harder, better, faster stronger,” and are finally willing to put their money where their genitals are. Leaders from the novelty market, representing heavy hitters like Fleshlight, LELO, Pipedream and more, all agree that male sex toys are selling harder, better, faster — you get the idea — than ever.
There is a general consensus that gradual destigmatization of male pleasure is in effect, evinced by striking trend reversals: heterosexual men are now seeking more refined products, experimenting with formerly taboo sex acts, and ponying up big bucks to get their rocks off (for both their and potentially their partner’s benefit). But this all begs specifics. We queried leading experts in the novelty sector to get the inside scoop about male sex toys.
When it comes to male masturbators, it almost always comes down to two things: the feel and discretion. Men want a product that not only feels like the real thing, but also something they can discreetly hide and reuses as easily as possible. -AMANDA GREINER, Fleshlight
XBIZ: What types of products are male customers most into these days?
XR Brands General Manager Randy Alvstad: There are two distinct sectors within the male consumer market: heterosexual men and gay men. For the hetero market, enlargement items including penis pumps and extenders are big sellers, as well as cock-and-ball play products. Prostate and anal-focused items are growing but don’t dominate quite yet. For gay guys, anal toys of all kinds — plugs, oversized dildos, prostate massagers, and more — dominate the market.
Hot Octopuss CEO Adam Lewis: I have noticed a shift towards male customers becoming more discerning about the products they are purchasing. In particular towards higher quality products that often have some kind of scientific premise. As male toys are becoming ever more acceptable I have also seen a trend in guys, especially straight guys, willing to be more experimental with their purchases and trying out products such as prostate massagers which they have shied away from in the past.
Fleshlight Interactive Media Manager Amanda Greiner: When it comes to male masturbators, it almost always comes down to two things: the feel and discretion. Men want a product that not only feels like the real thing, but also something they can discreetly hide and reuses as easily as possible. Products made from the hard, uncomfortable cyberskin and that look like what one would generally think an orifice on a masturbation sleeve would look like, just aren’t that popular with men in today’s society.
XBIZ: How much are male customers typically willing to pay for novelty products?
Alvstad: Spending trends differ between heterosexual and gay shoppers. While straight men are attracted to value pricing, they’re less likely to take the extra steps to search for the same product at a lower price once they’ve found it.
Gay male shoppers tend to spend more on their intimate items and incorporate more of these kinds of products into their sex lives than straight male shoppers. They’re more aware and demanding of quality construction, safe materials and attention to detail, which helps justify spending more on one product than another.
LELO Communications and Marketing Manager Patty Callahan: There doesn’t seem to be any disparity between how much men and women spend on pleasure, and men are willing to spend as much or as little as it takes: the priority for them is pleasure. LELO represents the pinnacle of quality and, due to the rigorous development process through which we put our products, our items retail higher than the average. Men are now more comfortable to make that investment in personal pleasure right alongside women.
Pipedream Products Digital Marketing Director Brian Sofer: A lot more than women, but this is nothing new. Men have always been willing to pay for sex – just consider strip clubs, magazines, porn. Take our Pipedream Extreme Toyz range for instance. We were initially concerned because some items, like the larger masturbators, retail at upwards of $1,000 and that’s completely out of our typical price range. But they sold, and continue to sell today. Same goes for the Roto-Bators. They retail well over $100, and we can’t keep them in stock!
Lewis: I certainly believe that the average price point of male purchases have increased significantly over the past few years. I don’t necessarily believe that this is due to a newfound willingness of male customers to spend more, but instead that the market’s offerings at the higher price points has improved significantly. The market has finally come round to the recognition that, just like their female counterparts, men are also willing to pay more in return for quality.
XBIZ: How do you specifically market to guys?
Alvstad: Packaging is key, with supportive store signage to help draw the eye and provide as many sales points and product features in one place as possible. Men tend to be less likely to reach out to sales staff for assistance and like to have most of their questions answered by looking at the box or an accompanying flier.
Callahan: We don’t specifically segment our customer base by gender. We don’t need to. We are a female-focused brand, but most of our marketing speaks to all markets on equal ground. However, our recent PINO couple’s ring featured a marketing campaign that was distinctly aimed towards men. We identified our target audience – high-earning, sexually active men within the financial and business sectors who would like the tongue-in-cheek approach – and used language familiar to that community with great results.
Sofer: It really depends on the product. When you’re dealing with pumps and extensions, the marketing is driven by the male psyche. These items are purchased for a very particular reason – they want to increase performance and maximize results, so your marketing must guarantee that it will make them harder, longer, thicker, stronger. But with brands like our Pipedream Extreme Toyz line, we’ve tapped more into the male fantasy. This collection is specifically geared toward the porn-loving crowd, so we market to those specific niches and fantasies.
Velv’or Founder Jelle Plantenga: I try to tease them with a feeling I call “Velv’Or Moments,” and do not show explicit images of the penis, which is very common for gay-related colleagues’ brands. For Velv’Or, I am working on Helmut Newton-type artistic porn images, Terry Rodgers-type paintings, and other stylish images to show the products in action.
Greiner: We get a lot of help from our affiliates, mainly content sites. We strive to create a product and experience that will captivate a viewer from these content sites and make it as easy as possible to purchase this masturbatory aid. If a man is masturbating on a porn site and sees a product that will greatly enhance his masturbating experience, we want to make it easily accessible.
Perfect Fit Chief Marketing Officer Rob Reimer: We have a huge gay consumer base, but we like to say that we are a male-oriented brand because our products are used by all people regardless if they are gay, straight, trans or bi. Our packaging also reflects that and is very neutral, not to scare any straight customers away. Our YouTube videos have been a hugely successful marketing tool and can demonstrate a competitive advantage a consumer might get by using a certain product. We have become a visual society and people expect to see video when visiting a website.
XBIZ: Have you noticed any male sex toy trends/changes in trends over the last year or so?
Callahan: It’s inevitable that the renewed interest in “Fifty Shades,” after the release of the movie, there is a trend toward men buying more BDSM equipment, such as restraints, cuffs, floggers and especially blindfolds. One of the blindfolds featured in the movie is the LELO INTIMA silk blindfold, and male purchases of this item have increased twofold.
Sofer: There’s definitely a lot more anal stuff geared to straight guys and couples – prostate toys, strap-ons for pegging – now that the anal taboo is fading and straight men aren’t associating anal sex with being gay. That’s why we made the Anal Fantasy Collection pretty neutral, because some guys are buying this for the first time and women are buying for their men.
XBIZ: What do you see for the future of male novelty products?
Sofer: The biggest thing right now is technology. Just as technology advances in the vibrator market, it’s beginning to skyrocket in male masturbation. It’s not just a dirty old sock and a pocket pussy anymore – there are tons of high-end, rechargeable masturbation devices that feature way more sensations than just a hand or your average stroker. We’ve actually got a few surprises up our sleeve within this category that will debut at this July’s ANME.
Greiner: Interactive devices are beginning to make their debut, and the technology is only going to get better over the coming years. Our VStroker device has offered users an experience unlike anything anyone has seen before in allowing the user to control the POV visual stimulation, while simultaneously using their products. Now with products like the Kiiroo, men can interact with women across the globe or enjoy it solely with synced replications of the actions of their favorite porn videos. It’s really amazing how far we’ve come in just these past few years.
Alvstad: We see further refinement happening in terms of product offerings, especially in the prostate category. We’ll see more variety and innovation with regard to shapes, sizes and functionality, especially as the medical profession continues to promote and support prostate massage as a healthy preventative measure against a variety of male cancers. The automatic masturbator category has been off the charts this year, so we expect to find new and unique options in this category as time goes on, with options that go beyond the basic up-and-down stroking motion.