In recent years, the sale of men’s sex toys is going strong. What are the driving factors behind the sale of men’s sex toys? What has changed, and what remains the same in regard to the male market?
At Hustler Hollywood, Marketing Manager Allison Johnston, and David Ballow, corporate buyer for toys, sensual care and BDSM items, find that expanding knowledge and awareness are truly growing men’s retail.
In metropolitan cities we sell more higher end items than in other areas, for example. But across the board, people like to experiment at a lower price point. -David Ballow, Hustler Hollywood
“Things have changed a lot since I started working in this area in 1994,” Ballow states. “Packaging has changed and made items look more accessible. Sexual health awareness has become much more important. Men understand and discover themselves more today. Male masturbators, squeeze toys, cock-and-ball toys, and prostate massagers are all strong sellers now. Prostate massagers are a good example of knowledge creating sales. Men are now more aware of the prostate as an inner erogenous zone. Stereotypes about using it have been broken. I would say the whole consciousness of sexuality is statistically on the rise,” he notes. And that increased knowledge translates into increased sales.
So where did this knowledge and awareness originate? “Certainly various films and books have created awareness,” Ballow said. “Yes, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has raised public curiosity and consciousness. For example, even if the mention of a butt plug still causes a chuckle, just the fact that people are aware of it can serve as a starting point. Sales of our fetish and BDSM gear is up about 30 percent, which I think is a result of interest in those items raised by the book. The book has also made men more comfortable in terms of finding products, or starting a conversation about them.”
Ballow asserts that this comfort level has allowed male customers to ask specific questions about products and learn about them. “For example, items such as male masturbators and penis pumps don’t sell themselves. They need a little explanation, and men are more open to hearing that now. We also find that male shoppers are definitely making more requests for prostate-specific items, not just butt plugs, but specific types, perhaps something with a curve that’s designed to hit the prostate as an erogenous zone.”
Male spending on these items has also risen for Hustler, across a full spectrum of pricing. “The key to price appeal is to carry a wide range of price points. We have entry-level sex toys which are priced very reasonably. This is the price level where many men will start, to see what works best for them, the shape, the style. Once they’ve decided what they like, then they’ll graduate to higher end items,” Ballow explains. “Our high-end lines also do incredibly well. Men will choose more expensive products once they’ve decided what they like, and what items they would like to keep around for awhile.”
Geography and demographics play a strong part in customer selection of a price point, Ballow says. “In metropolitan cities we sell more higher end items than in other areas, for example. But across the board, people like to experiment at a lower price point. We consider lower-cost items to be a launching pad.” In short, a lower price point is more appealing to buyers who are first time or beginning sex toy buyers.
Ballow points out that many male buyers choose the high-end Fleshlight male masturbator because of its extensive following and well-regarded brand, but this may not be an initial purchase. In regard to cock rings, Hustler carries items that cost just a few dollars and those that are in the $150 price range. “People will buy a particular higher cost item because they know and trust the brand, but many will want to try a few different things first before settling on one item. It really depends on a man’s personal journey.”
Ballow’s strongest sellers are male masturbators, cock and ball rings, and prostate massagers. Lubricants and toy cleaner are big sellers as well.
Sarah Tomchesson, director of business development for The Pleasure Chest, explains that her store has always had a strong male following. Because of this, she sees no major evolution in regard to male retail shopping. “In fact, as the adult retail trend has skewed more female and couples-focused, we’ve consistently maintained a retail environment which appeals to everyone.”
Tomchesson says her most-popular male-oriented categories are cock rings and men’s masturbation toys. As to price points, she notes. “These items tend to be at a lower price point than the average vibrator in our stores. However, luxury male products such as Fleshlight or Aneros prostate massagers regularly make it onto our bestsellers list, and those items compete with high-end vibrators price-wise. We find that as consumers become better educated about pleasure products, their willingness to invest in their sexuality increases across the board.” Like Ballow, Tomchesson too, notes an increase in customer knowledge in regard to sex toys.
A variety of specific items make her top-selling list at The Pleasure Chest. “Vibratex’s Sidekick II sleeve is a perennial favorite. More recently, luxury men’s products, such as Fun Factory’s Cobra, have become very strong sellers for us. We also have a strong gay male following — product lines like Oxballs have a cult-like following and do very well for us in this area.”
As far as the popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Tomchesson has seen the book’s influence primarily in the kink department.
According to Dave Levine, owner and president of SexToy.com, self-improvement is the chief driver behind male sex toy sales. “Men want to be bigger, harder and better,” he said, “making penis pumps, penis extensions, male strap-ons, and cock rings all very popular. The other half of our market is masturbators.” As far as the evolution of the male retail market, Levine notes that it’s growing “Everyone is shopping — including men.” His average order from men hovers around $50, although his top seller by dollar volume is the high end Fuck Me Silly masturbator, retailing for $469. Levine notes that the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ juggernaut has had an impact on his sales. “The book has basically made sex toys more mainstream, which has opened doors to a bigger market. That expansion increases sales of everything and more specifically bondage items.”
All in all, the male retail market is robust, with the prime factors behind sales being increased knowledge, awareness and sexual comfort in the male sex toy marketplace.