Male toys are becoming more and more popular for both straight and gay men. While the emphasis has long been on women’s toys, today men’s products are a burgeoning market.
Channel 1 Releasing CMO Rob Reimer says C1R’s bestselling male toy is a cock ring. “It’s a snap cock ring, the type of ring that’s usually made out of leather, or neoprene, or some kind of rubber. We actually figured out how to do it in silicone, and we’re the first one on the market to have a silicone snap ring with a 1.5 inch ball stretcher as well,” he reports. Another best-selling male product is the Skwert , a douche under C1R’s Boneyard brand. “That’s a silicone douching nozzle that fits onto any standard water bottle. It’s something that hasn’t been done before. We try to do things that are just a little different than our competitors, something that isn’t already available.”
This demand for non-anatomical options allows manufacturers to get creative with sensation delivery. -Anne Hodder, Sex Educator And Marketing Consultant
Channel 1 Releasing has two different product lines. The Rascal line has been around for 15 years and is geared toward the gay consumer, while their newer brand, Boneyard is “geared more toward the Average Joe, not specifically gay. It has more of a rock n’ roll feel to it and features skulls and that type of image in the packaging, for a very masculine look,” Reimer explains. He says that there are lots of boundaries being pushed in the market currently, from small start-ups to larger manufacturers, in terms of creating new trends. “We’re finding more functional products from everyone and a wider variety of price ranges. Some are pushing boundaries with design and functionality, with motors, electronics that work through apps, and 3D printing.”
In spite of all the changes, Reimer says that there is still some stigma in the consumer’s mind when it comes to male sex toys. “It’s becoming more mainstream, though. I do a lot of product training, and I talk to the sales people about making people feel more comfortable.”
At Oxballs, director of sales and marketing Ryan Fraga says the company’s best-selling male toys are definitely cock rings and cock slings. “Guys like something they can put on and wear, and then just have sex.”
As to the popularity of realistic versus stylized masturbators, Fraga notes, “It’s my perception straight couples want to play with something less realistic than gay men. Straight men do not want it to look real if they are using something realistic, something that looks like a real penis for penetration. Gay men, on the other hand, want a more realistic look.” Similarly, Fraga believes that whether a man is interested in an anal toy or a shaft toy depends on whether or not the individual is straight or gay, what kind of play they are interested in, and how experienced they are. “Those with less experience prefer a shaft; those who are more experienced tend to want to explore a little bit.”
Fraga believes that the evolution of male toys is fairly simple. “I find that men don’t need a lot of technology, they don’t need vibration. To make us happy, we need a good fit, a good feel, something that’s good to put on and play with. There’s not much difference now between gay and straight men when it comes to toys,” he adds. “All men want toys that are aggressive looking. Most men tend to think of sex, whether gay or straight, in a dark, snarky way. Gay and straight men are not a different market.”
As to any stigma surrounding the purchase of male sex toys, Fraga says it is fading. “It’s still there, but you see the trend changing. Young couples, college-age couples are playing with penetrating toys and strap-ons, so it is becoming more acceptable. The stigma is going away.”
Kristen Tribby, director of marketing and education at Fun Factory USA, says that the company’s main toy for men, the Cobra, is focused on a different sensation for the male body than the male toy market has focused on previously. “It has two oscillating motors that focus on the head of the penis. It’s the first of its kind, and an extremely popular part of our collection,” she says. “Another very popular toy is the Duke, which was designed by a doctor and engineering team for prostate play.”
Tribby describes Fun Factory as a colorful brand, and says that the company typically designs toys based on their use with the body, rather than on the look of a realistic anatomy. “Certainly there’s a segment of the market that likes a realistic masturbation toy, but many like their toys a little more abstract.”
As to a market preference for anal-based versus shaft-based products, Tribby feels it’s all about personal preference. “There is no typical thing people do when it comes to sexuality. I do think that any time you get into prostate play or anal play, there is a person who is interested in exploring that. But the most popular male toys would be anything focused on penis or shaft. Men are just more willing to explore that area than anal play.”
As to the evolution of male toys and current trends, Tribby says simply offering male toys is a trend in and of itself. “Most toys are still made for female bodies. At Fun Factory, we have products for everyone and all sexual expression, but even in our collection our focus is mostly on female bodies. Historically male toys were pretty straightforward and simple. Since the Cobra came out, we see others working on designing pulsators or vibrators for men, and I believe that is also a trend that will continue. While the industrywide emphasis will likely continue to remain on toys for women and couples, men’s toys will become more varied.”
Tribby also feels that in terms of packaging, content marketing, and body appeal, there is a difference in marketing to gay and bi versus straight men. “I believe the gay male demographic appreciates targeted marketing to them,” she explains.
And as to a stigma with male toys, Tribby says, “I don’t believe there is a big stigma on male sex toys today, especially when you look at products that are less realistic. Also, men tend to purchase online more. There is less of a discussion about toys in the male community, but men are still buying.” She notes that “Because both products and education in the industry still centers on female sexuality, women are more open to exploring different product solutions based on what their needs are than men. But men are becoming more interested.”
Sex educator and marketing consultant Anne Hodder says that non-anatomical strokers focus more on physical sensation than the fantasy of a sexual experience.
“When the concept of a masturbator first entered the market, anatomically accurate-ish orifices dominated store inventories, as though consumers were solely seeking strokers made to look like the human partners they lacked,” Hodder says. “But of course, as we know now with the recent surge of sleek and simple strokers void of lips, labia, or skin tones, consumers want affordable products that enhance the experience fast and easy — with little to no commitment or cleanup required.”
Stocking a variety of masturbators leaves the decision-making process up to shoppers and gives them the choice of what kind of experience they want to have with their new sex toy, Hodder says.
“This demand for non-anatomical options also allows manufacturers to get creative with sensation delivery; rather than sticking to the traditional tube shape, companies are creating single-ended cup-like masturbators, open-faced palm-held strokers, curved firm silicone strokers, penis head teasers with vibrating bullets attached, and myriad other shapes and styles that veer far from the traditional — and it’s always fun to see what they come up with next.”
Screaming O Account Executive Conde Aumann says that the sex-positive brand has been experimenting with non-traditional strokers for a few years to see how the company can apply what she calls the “Screaming O Treatment” — making unconventional, affordable, and superior versions of popular product types.
“Our first foray was the Taco, a soft open-faced pad of SEBS that users folded in the palms of their hands, and we used valuable customer and consumer feedback to perfect the idea with the Jackits, our newest product made for penises,” Aumann said. “We took the same ultra-soft SEBS material and created a shorter capped-end stroker with extended textures on the inside to intensify the stroking sensation (or enhance a handjob, should a partner be involved!).”
Jackits are reusable, compact and portable. They stretch wide and long to fit almost any size and are equipped with a nubby interior texture to intensify the sensation. They retail for $9.
“The material is so stretchy and strong that it can be pulled all the way down to the base of the penis while stroking with no risk of tearing or damaging it,” Aumann said. “During trainings, I even stick my manicured nails deep into the material to show just how durable it is, and customers leave in awe. And with a $9 MSRP, Jackits are selling like hotcakes — these masturbation sleeves are performing better than we originally projected, and their success tells us that demand for this quality-level at this price point is at an all-time high, and Screaming O is poised to be a leader in the category.”
At Tenga, company spokesman Eddie Marklew says, “When talking about sex toys, it’s important to understand that there is no wrong or right product for every person. For Tenga, our focus is on bringing our products to the mainstream market, and the broader appeal of non-anatomical toys is undeniable, not just for the legal ramifications on having a ‘realistic’ item on store shelves or in public advertising, but we are still at a stage in society where the majority of people are hesitant or would be embarrassed to pick up an item leaning toward the obscene.” He adds that “All our toys are tools men can use to upgrade their masturbation experience - this leads quite naturally to their non-anatomical design.”
Marklew discusses the evolution of male toys by noting that male adult novelties are not one single market, but a variety of markets with different trends driving each segment.
“The most obvious and talked about recently would be the emergence of VR and AR technology in the realistic sex toy market. This isn’t really our market segment at Tenga, but it’s been interesting to see how some brands have been incorporating this tech into their products,” he asserts. “However, with technology as it is, we feel it will be some time still until the technology is at a point where the ideas that brands are currently having can be fully realized. There’s also the larger teledildonics segment ranging from smartphone-app-controlled devices, to haptic technology, to long distance two-way or one-way control of items. All of these are fun additional components to a product.”
Marklew sees no boundaries in terms of sexual orientation when it comes to Tenga toys. “We have fans of all sexual preferences,” he states.
But while toy buyers may know no boundaries, in general, there is a stigma in regard to sex toys, one that also extends to masturbation itself.
“In our 2016 survey on masturbation habits and preferences of 1,200 Americans, The United States of Masturbation, we found that while almost everyone masturbates, roughly half of Americans polled were still reluctant or embarrassed to talk about it, with 36 percent of men having lied about whether or not they masturbate. This stigma and discomfort around discussing masturbation contributes to the hesitance to purchase sex toys; a lot of men feel sex toys are not relevant to them, or that they are somehow less attractive for using one.”
According to Marklew, the poll revealed that only 20 percent of men owned a sex toy, and that a large percentage of those individuals used toys on or with a partner as opposed to using them for solo masturbation. This is a distinct contrast to women, who when polled revealed that almost half had their own solo item.
“The core idea of Tenga is to break down these walls with great, well-designed and pleasurable items. In Asia there is less of a cultural hurdle for men to discuss masturbation, and thanks to this, for example in our homeland of Japan, our brand awareness is 85 percent for men in their 30s — and almost half of these men have used or intend to purchase a Tenga item,” Marklew said.