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U.K. Study: Sex Toys Will Match Smartphone Sales

U.K. Study: Sex Toys Will Match Smartphone Sales
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May 10, 2011 1:00 PM PDT    Text size: 

NORFOLK, England  — A British study has found that in the next 10 years, sex toy sales will keep pace with smartphones to the tune of 400 million globally.

According to the Women, Sex and Shopping report from the Hewson Group, thanks to more mainstream acceptance of sex — due mostly to celebrities who publicly discuss their sex lives — the “pleasure goods” industry is poised to explode.

The findings also found that more than 40 percent of British women view online porn and said that women have a strong desire to buy products designed to enhance their sex lives.

The study as reported in the Daily Mail, was based on a survey of 700 women, plus a second group of customers at five female-owned sex shops.

Sex toys could be sold alongside lingerie, while designer brands and even jewelry chains might jump on the sex novelties bandwagon and manufacture their own products, the report suggested.

“We think that by 2020-2025 sex toy purchasing will run at over 400 million units per annum. In context, that’s about the same as smartphone units shipped per year,” the researchers said.

Right now, nearly 4 million sex toys are said to be sold in the U.K. every year.

Hewson expects the global market to grow from $9 billion a year to $65 billion by 2020.

"What we can be certain of is that around 35-40 percent of women aged 18-65 in the U.K. use a sex toy and that 40 percent or more of the under 30s regularly use online pornography.”

The report noted that the new data reflects a trend that began in the ‘70’s and that the industry has been held back in the past due to an association with the sleazy, male-dominated porn industry.

But a “revolution” has occurred, driven by women who are more powerful at home and in the workplace with higher incomes who could spend more than $300 a year on these items.

“Neither of these possibilities effectively existed 30 years ago and the extent of sex toy use should really elevate the subject from ‘dirty little secret’ status to a recognition that toys are important in the lives of millions of women,” the study said.

The report stated that more than 60 percent of women find the idea of buying a sex toy to be ''exciting."  "Women are motivated by far more basic instincts than are commonly ascribed to them. The erotic, the naughty, the forbidden and even perhaps the slightly sordid all have their appeal.”

Women are controlling their own sexuality in a way not seen in history, according to the report, and it maintained that, “Sex toys and the pleasure goods market will become an expression of this emancipation.”

It also said that older views of women's use of porn that only associated sex with love and relationships has been dismissed, and what women want from porn isn’t so different from men.

Celebrity endorsements of sex toys by stars such as Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria and Halle Berry have acted as "validators for brands and women alike," according to the report.

And the researchers believe there is a huge commercial opportunity for British brick and mortar and online retailers if they move the sale of pleasure goods into the mainstream, especially if they include appealing branding and are not offensive.

The study pointed to the success of upscale lingerie chains like Agent Provocateur and smaller outlets such as Coco-de-Mer and Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium as examples.

“It would appear logical that by 2015 what is acceptable and, perhaps, expected in mainstream retail is the linkage between lingerie, perfume, fashion and erotica. Any department store with a lingerie floor should probably be looking at how they include a concession area that is both discreet and alluring,” the study noted.

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