N.Y. Times Spotlights Mainstreaming of Sex Toys

Ariana Rodriguez

NEW YORK — The recent foray into vibrating products from top condom manufacturers Trojan and Lifestyles is proof that sex toys are becoming mainstream goods, according to an article in the New York Times.

Trojan’s Tri-Phoria, which is available to adult retailers from Paradise Marketing, was created based on a study in 2008 that revealed that more than half of American women have used a vibrator and nearly 80 percent had incorporated into partner play.

LifeStyles’ A:Muse Personal Pleasure Massager, which Paradise also offers, debuted in January, joining Durex’s Allure, which has been on the market since 2008. Both vibrators are competitively priced at $19.99; and according to a Durex representative over the last six month, sales are up 60 percent compared with the same period last year.

During last month’s International Lingerie Show, Paradise Marketing CEO Dennis Paradise told XBIZ that by using elaborate marketing tactics and relying on its trusted brand name, Trojan is gearing up to open up the pleasure products market to mainstream audiences.

Paradise said that the real standout characteristic about the Triphoria is the $10 million budget it's shelled out in marketing through television commercials, print and radio ads, in-store promotion and social media, as well as through doctors and therapists.

"This is a fully coordinated campaign that has never been done in the adult toy business before," Paradise said. "They say 50 percent of women have experimented with sex toys — well, this will get the other 50."

Paradise said that adult retailers can expect shoppers to come into their stores asking for the Triphoria by name; and not only will it increase their traffic, but will illuminate any part of the store in which it is placed.

"Trojan is an iconic brand," he said, "and its quality will convert on the 'other side of the store."

The New York Times article taps notable industry figures such as Babeland founder Rachel Venning, Good Vibes sexologist Carol Queen and “Orgasm, Inc.” director Liz Canner — all of who endorse the mainstream crossover of sex toys for the purposes of sexual health and expression.

Dr. Laura Berman also is cited in the article, noting that her line of sex toys from CalExotics grossed $5 million in 2010 — up from $100,000 in 2005.

Berman’s line received a push from Oprah Winfrey, when the famed sex and relationship expert appeared on her show to discuss women’s issues in the bedroom, causing the collection’s Aphrodite rechargeable massager to go on back-order “forever,” Berman said in the report.

Vibrating panties from CalExotics’ Dr. Laura Berman collection have appeared in the 2009 movie “The Ugly Truth,” and other boxed product on the TV drama “Private Practice,” however the tipping point for sex toys came in the 1990s when the notorious “The Turtle and the Hare” “Sex in the City” episode aired.

“ ‘Sex and the City’ did as much for women’s sexual comfort as really anything has done in the past couple of decades,” Berman said.

While — according to the article — “the creep factor” involving sex toys has decreased thanks to increased visibility in pop culture, some sex toy manufacturers are still facing some hurdles while trying to break into mainstream.

In the article, Suki Dunham, founder of OhMiBod, says Nylon Magazine refused to run an ad and the federal Small Business Administration denied her loan application because she ran a “prurient” business.

“I can sit with my 10-year-old daughter during prime-time TV and watch a commercial for Viagra, but I can’t advertise our OhMiBod fan page within Facebook,” Dunham’s husband, who helps her market OhMiBod, said in the report.