The sex toy market has come a long way in recent years. Sex toys are enjoying a lot more mainstream exposure than they did in the past and are driving the demand for more unique product designs and functionality. From the frontlines in the world of retail, store operators and distributors say that they are seeing a growing demand for high-end sex dolls, clitoral stimulators and rechargeable device. Here are some of the hot product trends to look out for this summer and beyond.
Scott Dantis, director of sales and marketing for Williams Trading Co. in Pennsauken, N.J., predicts that sex dolls will continue to flourish.
Now that apps are becoming more accessible and user-friendly — and since consumers rely on a variety of apps on their mobile phones already — high-tech toys have become a standard part of the adult toy market.
“Pipedream Products’ recent announcement of the new Ultimate Fantasy Doll collection during this past ANME stood out as one of the most unique product offerings,” Dantis told XBIZ. “With a movable head, toes and realistic features of the fantasy doll, this gives the brick-and-mortar retailer the ability to offer a premium unique product at a higher price point item. We expect that this category will require additional retailer support with videos, posters and training.”
According to Dantis, Williams Trading is also quite bullish on clitoral stimulation toys and rechargeable bullet vibrators.
“Overall, we see clitoral stimulation devices expanding in the marketplace,” Dantis observed. “This category was established by Womanizer and expanded with popular price points from Satisfyer. The clitoral stimulation category, which started as a handheld device, is now included as a feature in many rabbit vibrators. All of the mainstream brands are offering a version of clitoral stimulation. We have also expanded our own Cloud 9 Novelties assortment of Air Touch stimulation devices to serve this market.”
Allison Travers, director of marketing communications for the Denver-based Eldorado Trading Company, pointed to “mid-market” and “high-tech” sex toys as categories that will maintain their popularity this year.
“There has been an explosion in the mid-market toys; these are the toys that fall between the bargain and luxury items,” Travers told XBIZ. “Higher quality materials, combined with good, strong motors at an affordable price point, continue to grow the market. Ten years ago, manufacturers only offered the extremes between bargain jelly or straight vibe and — on the other side of the spectrum — the elite luxury items pioneered by LELO and We-Vibe. Technology in toys, including app capabilities, created a lot of uncertainty with consumers. But now that apps are becoming more accessible and user-friendly — and since consumers rely on a variety of apps on their mobile phones already — high-tech toys have become a standard part of the adult toy market.”
Travers added, “Another trend we have noticed is the increasing popularity of high-end dolls and machines. These products are doing well; however, it can sometimes be difficult for brick-and-mortar retailers to carry these items because the testers can be limited, nonexistent or expensive to display.”
Megan Swartz, general manager and buyer for Deja Vu Love Boutique in Las Vegas, observed that more sex toy manufacturers are experimenting with different shapes and sizes.
“Some companies appear to be shying away from the more traditional shapes and sizes,” Swartz told XBIZ. “While some of these newer items are contoured for our different anatomies, other items seem to have been designed with little or no thought for the bodies they will actually be in contact with. (Clandestine Devices’ vibrator) The Mimic, for example, is a different enough shape to have grabbed my attention as a buyer but still follows a curve and shape that will make sense for our customers when they see and feel it.”
Molly Romeo, account manager and product specialist for Holiday Products, cited “oral stimulators” as a category that isn’t slowing down and “nipple toys” and “unique items for penises” as categories to keep a close eye on.
“On the cusp of becoming a trend is nipple toys,” Romeo told XBIZ. “I’m getting more and more recommendation requests for items suitable for nipple stimulation, and currently, consumers are using other products for that purpose. There are only a few products available currently, and I hope to see more soon, as this is an untapped market.”
Romeo continued, “Unique items for penises are starting to gain in popularity, and from the sales of these types of products, the market was ready for more than just a hand-held tube style of masturbator. Of course, we can’t forget about oral simulators like Womanizer, Satisfyer, Sona, Beso, Shegasm, etc.; I don’t see their popularity dying down soon.”
Nenna Joiner, founder of the Feelmore Adult Gallery in Oakland, Calif., predicted that more and more manufacturers will be using Hollywood films, social media and other mainstream outlets to promote their sex toys.
“The Hollywood fan base is a dream marketing clientele,” Joiner told XBIZ. “You cannot help but see purchases when you deal with such a large number of potential buyers. The movie press tour lasts much longer than a product press tour in the adult industry, and if you can get more marketing leverage because of a film, why not? Additionally, the industry is doing its best to reach social media fan bases — i.e., Amber Rose for LELO. Either Amber brings new customers to the marketplace, or she helps to somehow insert the name LELO into the hip-hop lexicon.”
Andy Duran, educational outreach and affiliate manager for the Good Vibrations chain, asserted that the mainstream acceptance of sex toys will continue to grow during 2018’s second half.
“We’ve come a long way from where we were when I first started at Good Vibes 13 years ago,” Duran told XBIZ. “Back then, the rabbit being shown on ‘Sex and the City’ was groundbreaking. To see a group of women discussing not only their sex toy use, but also, openly discussing masturbation, was just unseen. Fast-forward about 10 years, and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ comes out with its own line of sex toys — sold not just in adult shops, but also, at local drug stores. The growing acceptance of the use of pleasure products is revolutionary, but when accessibility grows without an increase of education, it can often miss the mark. That’s where we come in (as retailers), providing both the curated selection of products along with the resources needed to best enjoy them so that no one gets left behind.”