trends

Sex Toy Trends

Anne Winter
It's that time of year. Consumers are emptying out their bedside drawers and tossing out the cracked cock rings, limp dildos and rabbit vibes that no longer vibe; and they are ready and waiting for the next big thing. In an industry where "out with the old, in with the new" takes on a literal meaning, knowing ahead of time what sex toy trends to expect in the new year is like finding the answers to a final exam 30 minutes before it starts — it gets you way ahead of everyone else.

Sharing their predictions for 2008 toy trends are the masterminds behind some of 2007's hottest products in all sectors of the adult novelty market. The upcoming year has a lot in store for the industry, and everything from lubes to gags to sex gadgets are getting extreme makeovers to keep up with customer demand for high-end quality.

In 2007, the adult toy industry saw a significant move to make sex products mainstream and a part of everyday life. More attention was put on design and packaging than ever before; it appears that manufacturers realized that pink plastic hearts don't appeal to female consumers nearly as much as simple silver ribbon.

"I don't think it's about 'cute' as much as providing a healthy, responsible product that knocks down moral barriers and opens up retail marketplaces for the industry," Tantus CEO Mike Smith said, who added that he now is seeing more innovation with regard to sleek and sexy novelties, with attention to how a toy's functionality relates to its overall look and feel.

Taking a cue from the mainstream jewelry market, companies like Big Teaze and adult newbie Luxotiq have begun packaging their luxury lines of vibrators and insertables in boxes reminiscent of wedding gifts from Tiffany & Co.

"I think novelty packaging is going to really come into the 21st century [in 2008]," Spartacus Sales and Marketing Coordinator Alice Beckett said. "For better or worse, we're going to see more and more contemporary, artistic designs and fewer packages that look like transplants from the 1970s."

Many manufacturers who got a later start in the adult world went back to their mainstream design roots to develop streamlined, simplistic product lines. Greg DeLong of Njoy used his expertise in modern architecture when creating his stainless steel line of anal plugs, G-spot dildos and insertables, while the folks at Oh Mi Bod used everything they learned while working for Apple to develop a technologically innovative vibrator that offers users a multisensory sexual experience packaged in sleek and colorful boxes reminiscent of the first-generation iPod.

"We believe that all sex toys, not just high-tech toys, will continue to take their design cues from the mainstream markets of consumer goods and the fashion industry," Oh Mi Bod founder Suki said. "The general trends in the fashion, home goods and technology marketplace will continue to have a greater influence in the toy market."

A perfect example of this is Nexus' upcoming Bluetooth toy, a brand new product that the company's public relations director, Nina Naran, couldn't reveal much more about. The company also soon will enter the electro-stimulation realm by releasing a series of tools that will be compatible with all of the company's existing high-end G-spot and P-spot dildos for women and men.

And with P-spot toys and prostate stimulation specifically, Naran said, the company expects their acceptance and use in the straight-male market will increase considerably in 2008 as awareness of their effectiveness spreads and becomes more accepted by the demographic. She said Nexus plans to provide more informative and educational materials about prostate stimulation in order to remove the taboo that these types of products carry with many straight men.

Inspired by the techie tools that have become a part of everyday life, Nexus will devote much of 2008 to combining sexuality with functionality.

And speaking of functionality, Tantus' Smith said that the company will be releasing the Tantus X line of sex toy accessories that will not only work with all Tantus products, but also will be compatible with toys from most of the major manufacturers in the business.

High-end fetish manufacturers such as Stockroom.com and Spartacus Leathers expect to see further acceptance of their style of wares as 2008 develops. Stockroom Purchasing Manager Chris Kalev said the company will place a greater emphasis on original, one-of-a-kind designs that stretch the boundaries of fetish and high fashion.

Most recently, Stockroom debuted its Bolero Straitjacket; a unique cropped design that currently is awaiting a patent and whose functionality has been recognized by both the adult and mainstream worlds. A special version has been designed for use within the medical community. Spartacus' Beckett said that the adult novelty industry has gotten to a point where it can cater to the budgets and desires of almost any customer, and

Spartacus has followed suit by offering its wares in both leather and nylon, making the products more appealing to the first-time customers looking to explore their boundaries without breaking the bank.

And an important part of the adult novelty market that is often overshadowed by the dildo and vibrator kings of the industry is the lubricant manufacturers, who have made major strides to develop non-sticky, hygienic — and most importantly safe — products that make it possible to use the wide array of toys and then clean up afterwards.

Pjur, one of the leading lubricant manufacturers in the business, has an arsenal of brand-new sprays; after-sex wipes and lubes with both water and silicone bases using ingredients not typically associated with sex. The company's marketing and sales director, Tonja McDonald, said that one of Pjur's newest products, the water-based Superhero Ginkgo-Energizing Glide, contains a high dosage of ginkgo meant to be absorbed through the skin, then go on to enter the bloodstream and energize the user.

Also in Pjur's 2008 repertoire is Backdoor Spray, made with silicone and a high dosage of jojoba meant to relax the anal muscle and the skin around it. McDonald said she foresees other lubricant companies using ingredients that are safe to use internally as well as externally, packaged elegantly to coincide with its adult toy counterparts and appealing to a trend-aware and style-savvy consumer.

As 2007 comes to a close and the New Year quickly approaches, adult toy manufacturers are gearing up to release their new creations and product lines to the public. It's top companies like those featured above that set the standards for the rest, and by the looks of it, the adult industry and adult toy market is in for a wild and sexy 2008.

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