A Look at the Latest Sextech, Design Trends Shaping Pleasure Products

A Look at the Latest Sextech, Design Trends Shaping Pleasure Products

Sextech and pleasure product design have come a long way in recent years, with innovations leading to a surge of new products on the market. As consumers become savvier about sex and pleasure, the industry has responded with a range of options to satisfy their desires and meet their demands for top quality and innovation. From app-controlled devices to gender-neutral shapes, the world of pleasure products is constantly evolving and breaking new ground with tech and design elements to woo consumers.

So where are we headed in 2023 and beyond? In this feature, experts from across various sectors of the pleasure biz share their insights on today’s most popular sextech features, functions, shapes and colors — and their answers are as varied as the products themselves.

Accessibility is increasingly important to end consumers, and more vocally sought after when it comes to 2023 product design.

Paolo D. Griffo, key account manager of startup Danamedic APS, predicts that the pleasure industry will continue to dive deeper into technology.

“My forecast is that we will see toys connected to the Metaverse, and VR in general, becoming the next big thing,” he says. “Connected toys, remotely operated toys, interactive devices that are able to react to video content and to real-life stimuli are the present and will take the market by storm in the near future, with the rapid development of such technologies and the Metaverse becoming the new reality.”

Sam Hadlow, head of sales for the Americas and Oceania for British-based Creative Conceptions, reflects on the booming demand for app-enabled toys.

“We get a lot of requests from customers that are wanting more app-controlled products that open up the pleasure experience, allowing their partner to get involved, too,” he says. “Sex toy technology has advanced massively over the last few years, and as a result we are seeing more innovative products that are opening the possibilities of solo and partner pleasure. I think the next logical step will be smart technology that learns the anatomy of the user and can personalize the experience accordingly.”

Will Ranscombe of Love Not War finds it a bit challenging to come up with just one tech function that’s currently all the rage.

“The consumer base of sex toys is so wide,” he explains. “I would, however, estimate a significant rise in hands-free/app-controlled toys. Much like other areas of industry, sex toy design is rapidly evolving through the incorporation of technology, in particular the focus on enhancing the user experience. To this end, I believe the next big trend of sex toy technology is app/smartphone-controlled sex toys that will allow the users to customize their experience and control their toy from a distance, and that can be used without having to be held or controlled manually, allowing for more freedom and flexibility during use.”

Sharing her observations about tech’s influence on the adult industry, Thank Me Now Director of Sales Danielle Seerley also predicts growing popularity of app-based products, as well as sex dolls with AI functions. Overall, she sees tech improving across the board.

“I think there will always be an evolution of our staples,” she says. “Motors and materials will always continue to evolve into better versions of their previous selves.”

Brett Hanzel of Traditions Global Distribution offers his outlook for innovation in the pleasure biz.

“There will be several trends that we are starting to see and some we will be seeing in the near future in sex toy technology,” he says. “We have already seen virtual reality content in the sex world and will be seeing more toys that work with VR to create a more immersive and interactive experience. Artificial Intelligence will play a huge role in enhancing the user’s experience of new sex toys by providing personalized, data-driven insight, as well as enabling the development of more innovative, unique and high-quality products.

“As technology advances, we will see new forms of stimulation come to market,” he continues. “This will include functions like new, advanced pulsation and speed patterns, as well as toys that use sound and light to create unique sensation.”

Nora Langknecht, marketing manager for the Germany-based Fun Factory, spells out what she sees as tech’s core mission in the industry.

“While gimmicky toys get a lot of play on TikTok, at the end of the day, customers want a product that works well and fits their pleasure,” she says. “Customers want powerful toys with complex and satisfying vibrations.”

Kim Maty, Entrenue senior account executive and buyer, notes another popular tech feature that consumers are gravitating toward nowadays: temperature play.

“Products that suggest temperature play usually involve manual heating and cooling, but Deia Hot and Cold takes it to a new level,” Maty says. “This amazing internal and external vibe allows the users to switch between cold and hot in seconds with just the push of a button, for a fully customizable experience.”

She also highlights other Deia products and standouts for 2023.

“The Couple and The Feather reimagine the standard G-spot toy and, of all things, a feather,” she says. “The Couple offers two interchangeable ends with independent motors and converts from a G-spot toy to a bullet for pinpoint external stimulation with the removal of the G-spot sleeve. A standing charging base keeps it handy. The Feather is a sleek, powerful and versatile teasing device shaped like a feather, which can stimulate the external erogenous zones and deliver satisfyingly sensual slaps. It’s presented in a fabulous charging case for discreet storage.”

Another product that Maty says has taken the industry by storm is the Snail Vibe.

“Its girthy presence has been an undeniable hit with our retailers,” she says. “With two separate motors providing a deep and powerful treble-and-bass style of vibration. Snail offers continuous external stimulation while the user-controlled insertable portion offers sliding movements that mimic intercourse. Each Snail Vibe features two motors, four buttons, five speeds and five modes, for more than 600 stimulating combinations.”

Maty also noted that innovation doesn’t only cover pleasure products’ functions during use.

“Brands like Biird have been super thoughtful not only in their functionality of their items, but also in the way the products are stored and charged when not in use,” she says. “Biird’s flagship item, Evii — the recipient of multiple design awards — offers a silicone body with a squishy tip and eight vibration modes to deliver smooth vibrations. Its very modern charging base doubles as a jewelry tray and comes with stickers.

“Namii, their second release, offers a waterproof, whisper-quiet, two-in-one clitoral stimulator made from ultra-soft silicone,” she adds. “What makes Namii most eye-catching is the elegant magnetic charging base that doubles as a mood light while charging. Namii also comes with stickers and a special edition that also includes a ‘come-hither’ necklace and bookmark.”

Carolyn Eagle, founder and CEO of Betty’s Toy Box, sees the market being driven by consumer demand for unique functions.

“We find that our customers respond well to innovative designs rather than products with high-tech capabilities,” she says. “Hump pads and grinding toys were a favorite last year and have continued to be a big seller. Customers seem to also love uniquely shaped thrusting toys like the Earthquake from NS Novelties or Velvet Hammer from Evolved.”

Designing Desires

When it comes to trends in pleasure product design, consumer preferences vary broadly.

“You have entry-level users that are totally different shoppers than those that have previously purchased sexual wellness products,” Seerley says. “Regardless of who the consumer is, I think people are more confident in wanting quality products for their body. They are willing to spend more on items that promote body-safe materials, high-end motors and lux packaging, but also toys that feel like they were truly designed for the body purchasing them.”

Reflecting on her company’s line, she adds, “For Thank Me Now, we continue to see very strong sales in our suction collection, which features the famous Rose Vibe, our infamous Mini Halo Wand, and Get Lucky dildos. Some of these classic styles continue to have sales and keep pace with new items. There is always going to be a market for the classic-style toys, as well as pop culture hits that inspire new toy design.”

Sex toy design doesn’t have to be too crazy or out of this world, though, as Hadlow explains.

“There is a growing appetite in the market for subtle sex toys that are a true reflection of the multibillion-dollar industry that they represent,” Hadlow says. “While there will always be room on the shelves for more realistic-looking and lifelike products, discreet, compact and travel-friendly toys are having a moment and it doesn’t look likely to end anytime soon. Consumers today are looking for toys that are innovative, elegant, ergonomic, beautifully designed or discreet enough to be left out on the bedside.”

Maty agrees, noting how the candy-colored Unihorn line has proven to be popular for beginners, along with other cutesy designs.

“Emojibator has been successful in the cute department with their play on emojis like the eggplant, pickle and banana,” she says. “But the best part is, while these items are cute, they are also exceptionally functional by offering premium vibration and packaging.”

On the retail front, Darian Mann, buyer and VP of Operations for CK’s Secrets and Lulu Batista of Ooh Lulu’s Cherry Box also report growing demand for fantasy-inspired pleasure products. Batista says her customers are shopping for “fantasy animals,” and Mann reports a similar trend.

“At our locations I’ve recently seen a rise in the Creature Cocks/Coxplay toys trending, so anything with a nontraditional shape,” Mann says.

Everyone in the pleasure business knows it’s definitely not “one size fits all” with toy designs, and many manufacturers strive to create products that are versatile enough for every body. Will Ranscombe, of the U.K.-based company Love Not War, explains the importance of versatility when it comes to pleasure product designs.

“A massive area of interest for consumers is for toys with versatility, meaning toys that aren’t just good for one thing but products that come in a range of shapes and sizes and double up in functionality,” he says. “For example, wand vibrators that also work as a neck or back massager or when one product can be used for clitoral, vaginal, anal or penile stimulation.”

He continues, “Similarly, the customization of sex toys is becoming increasingly popular with consumer products that can be personalized to the consumer’s own preference. Customizable vibrators with different vibration patterns, intensity levels and the ability to learn a user’s preferences, and thus adjust their settings, provide a personalized experience.”

Blush Sales Manager Nancy Cosimini notes that shoppers are looking for ergonomic designs.

“In terms of shapes, the trends are showing that ease of use is becoming more important,” Cosmini said. “Ergonomic shapes, loop handles and length for reach. We also hear more conversations on the flexibility of the product itself. This is all being taken into consideration. Design is become a much more thoughtful process. This applies to both personal use and also for couples using toys, it is about the performance, quality and ease of use.”

Citing shoppers’ demands for higher-quality materials, Ranscombe says consumers have become increasingly savvy and want to ensure that the toys they are buying are body safe.

“This means that they are made from medical-grade silicone, ABS plastic or other nontoxic materials,” he says. “This is not only important for the consumer, but it is also something I see increasing and spilling out into other areas of sexual wellness.”

Langknecht sees the consumer as the one driving the manufacturer’s creative process.

“When it comes to sex toy design, the standards that customers are always looking for are products that are visually appealing, ergonomic and easy to use,” she says. “They also want products that use high-quality, body-safe and eco-friendly materials, and that offer a wide range of functions and features to enhance their pleasure.”

She also brings up another factor that has only relatively recently become a consideration for some companies when it comes to toy design.

“Accessibility is increasingly important to end consumers, and more vocally sought after when it comes to new product designs,” Langknecht says. “Creating new toys that are not just pretty and/or powerful, but also thoughtfully designed for ease of use and with mobility factors in mind, is key.”

There is certainly an art to incorporating many different features and attributes while addressing the wants and needs of consumers whose genders and bodies vary widely.

Ian Kulp, global director for sales and marketing for Bonner Trading, parent company of B Swish, says that his company prioritizes making its products attractive, body-safe and gender-neutral — meaning they can please and pleasure multiple erogenous zones and genitalia — with a user interface designed for simple operation and focused on the intended user.

Of course, it’s bodies that end up using sex toys and many manufacturers are keen to provide pleasure products that honor and suit consumers’ many and diverse body shapes.

“Today’s most popular shapes encompass ergonomic and natural curves, slopes and fine lines designed to conform, enhance and almost mold with most anatomies and bodies,” explains Ian Kulp.

Faubel also discussed the importance of catering to bodies of all sizes with versatile designs.

“Folks continue to want products that can work for a variety of bodies; flexibility, ease of use and designs that can work for more than just one body part, like Snug Plugs for pelvic floor use and Le Wand Double Vibe for nipple play, continue to lead the way,” she said. “Lay-ons and internal G-spot designs bolster the easiest entry into engaging with the product and allow for the most comfort in pleasure play and versatility.”

Kulp also addresses another often-discussed topic: size.

“Size is not always king — and/or queen — depending on one’s sought-after experience,” Kulp says, noting that the company has found that lengths between 2.75 and 4.75 inches work best. She adds that toys with smooth, soft to the touch finishes with seamless construction are also favorites.

Shades of Play

Pink and purple. Pink and purple. For decades, those were the two predominant color options for products geared for vulva owners, and of course black was the color choice to distinguish men’s products. Perhaps influenced by this longtime tradition, they continue to be the go-to colors for manufacturers, but fresh new colors are evolving, trending and steadily making their way into the industry.

“Pink and purple remain the dominant color palettes, but this is mostly driven by decades of marketing,” Kulp contributes. “As we continue to evolve and become more and more comfortable with the discussions and actions of self-care and pleasure, consumers are seeking color tones that feel more personal and on par with their ‘love language.’ New shades are emerging across the blue and green color families. And for more niche-driven brands and designs, bright, almost electric tones remain strong and highly desired.”

According to Hanzel, preferences in colors are always evolving based on trends in the overall fashion market.

“Colors like the blues, pinks, purples and reds have been shown to draw an increased demand when combined with newer, more technology-driven products,” he says. “Bold, bright, eye-catching colors like fuchsia, electric blue and bright orange are something we see trending in areas of the fashion industry that will soon be coming to new, unique and exciting sex toys. Bold colors such as blues, pinks and purples have been very popular with the newer multifunction and technology-driven products.”

Creative Conceptions’ latest release, its Unihorn line, highlights currently trendy pastel shades.

“Just like the shapes and sizes of sex toys, the color palette we are seeing is moving away from traditional skin tones to more pastel colors,” Hadlow says.

Love Not War’s Will Ranscombe also believes that sex toy color trends are increasingly moving away from the traditional flesh tones and toward brighter, more vibrant tones.

“Consumers want to find their sex toys aesthetically pleasing,” he says. “They want their sex toys to reflect items that they would purchase for their homes and therefore the colors heavily feed into this. Some popular shades and tones that are becoming increasingly sought-after include soft pastels such as pink, lavender and baby blue. Shiny metallic colors such as gold, silver and rose gold are also becoming more popular for sex toys, offering a futuristic, edgy look.”

Faubel says one reason people are more likely to purchase greens and oranges than they were 10 years ago is simply because these colors are more available than they used to be.

“If you are only offering pink and purple, folks will buy pink and purple,” she notes. “But if you expand your assortment to offer more colors, you will appeal to more people.”

Over the last year or so, Seerley has seen bright and fun colors making major headway in the market.

“Seeing vibrators and even dildos in bright colors like blues and greens, along with reds and violets, gives the consumer a chance to pick products that reflect their personality,” she observes. “Color is a big way to express ourselves, and offering such intimate objects in a palette that excites someone is sure to reflect in sales.”

Lovehoney Sales and Marketing Director Stephanie Keating sees both fashion trends and demographic trends impacting color selection.

“Trending palettes have quite the range,” Keating says. “The tried-and-true colors tend to be more ‘mature’ such as black, mid-to-dark blues, or aubergine. Consumers are also gravitating towards softer colors such as lilac or rose, with lilac appealing to a wide age range of vulva owners in their mid-20s to mid-40s. Vibrant colors such as hot pink or bright red do well for pleasure products, reflecting current fashion trends.” Langknecht offers her analysis of Fun Factory customers’ color preferences.

“Colors that are ‘outside of the box’ continue to sell with consumers, especially on our website,” she says. “New classics like Deep Sea Blue, Emerald Green and updates to former top colors like Pastel Lilac catch the eye, defy gendered coloring and blend into other personal care trends.”

Non-Vibrating Needs

Not all toys need motors inside or fancy tech in order to provide pleasure to the masses. Good old dildos and other non-motorized products continue to sell well and appeal to countless consumers, with many different materials helping to create intimate pleasure for users — no matter where they put those toys during their magic moments.

Among Fun Factory’s silicone toys, Langknecht reports, non-motorized toys like Limba Flex — a poseable dildo that’s excellent for intense G- and P-spot stimulation — continue to inspire customers to explore greater pleasure.

“Our recently released Bootie Fem sold as many units in two months as was anticipated for the full year, showing that innovative design can come with or without a motor,” she says.

Ranscombe attributes the popularity of nonvibrating toys to a growing desire for more diverse and innovative ways to experience sexual pleasure.

“These products can offer a wide range of sensations, different from vibrations, such as pressure and suction,” he notes. “In the ever-changing, fast-paced world of keeping up with consumers’ desires and needs, it’s important that the industry doesn’t leave nonvibrating toys behind.”

One oft-overlooked but sturdy material that withstands any type of lube or use is stainless steel.

“Le Wand stainless steel products have performed consistently well, and these are non-vibrating, double-sided pleasure tools,” COTR’s Faubel shares. “Stainless steel is a material that will last a lifetime, can be used with any lubricant and is incredibly easy to clean. When folks learn how little effort is needed for internal sensations and how well these products retain temperatures, their eyes light up. Whereas the idea of stainless steel used to be read as more niche or fetish, the presentation of these items as lifestyle products and the educational content included has helped create more stainless steel fans.”

She also offers a sneak peek into new additions to the company’s offerings.

“With the increase in requests for new materials, we are excited to expand the materials for this brand’s nonvibrating products this summer with some highly anticipated new releases,” she teases.

Sensual Serums

Lubricants and intimate body care products are considered the go-to upsell items for sex toys.

“As simple as it sounds, I think folks are finally understanding how using lube enhances any intimate encounter,” Eagle says. “In terms of toys, our customers seem keen on doing a little more internal exploration. We’ve seen an increase in sales for G-Spot and P-Spot toys. Perhaps this is also why our lube sales have skyrocketed.”

With consumers becoming more ingredient-conscious, Exsens’ Rebecca Pinette-Dorin praises manufacturers for removing PEG and gluconolactone from lube formulations.

“I think consumers are reading the back labels and are more and more concerned with what they are putting into their bodies,” she says. “Smart lubricant brands are picking up on that.”

According to Pinette-Dorin, the overall quality of the lubricant market in the U.S. as a whole has improved drastically over the last five years.

“Cleaner, more natural formulas, no more phthalates or parabens, vagina pH and osmolality is being considered — it’s great to see,” she says. “It reminds me of the changes that happened in the sex toy industry 10 years ago with respect to materials. The industry is really cleaning up its act when it comes to body safety, and I couldn’t be happier.”

When it comes to appealing to the new generation of adults, JO Regional Manager Timothy Ferencz says that this demographic is willing to experiment.

“JO has addressed this by launching the Cocktails line of water-based lubricants,” he says. “One of the best product launches in company history, JO Cocktails is a huge hit with consumers, especially the younger crowd. Available in six exciting flavors — Mojito, Sex on the Beach, Pina Colada, Cosmopolitan, Mai Tai and Mimosa — JO Cocktails speaks to the younger consumer looking for something a little different than the usual water-based/silicone-based lubricants.”

High On Love’s Angela Mustone says that CBD is popular among younger consumers.

“We’re always evolving and experimenting with ingredients, which is what led to the addition of CBD to our HighOnLove Water-Based Lubricant,” she said. “It’s a trendy ingredient, but it’s a natural fit in a lubricant because of its anti-inflammatory and skin-soothing properties.”

Versatility also is a highly popular quality for lubricant and intimate body care products.

“Currently, the product we hear back about the most is our Coco Shea Body Oil,” Pinette-Dorin says. “Not only is it great for vulva dryness and thigh chafing, or as a moisturizer for after waxing or shaving, it is also the best for giving hand jobs or male masturbation. Coco Shea keeps things slick when needed, and leaves all skin hydrated and happy. With just two ingredients, both organic, this product is perfect for those in search of more healthy options.”

For consumers who are “continuously looking for products to enhance intimacy and build on the connection with their partner,” Ferencz recommends JO’s intimate bath and body products, such as its JO Nuru Massage Gel.

“Nuru — Japanese for ‘slippery’ — is an erotic massage practice using the entire naked body as a massage tool to relax and arouse a partner,” he explains. “When applied to already wet skin, Nuru provides a slick, sensual glide that enhances the massage and creates a deeper level of intimacy between partners.”

Sexual Wellness, Education Quest

In recent years, celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Aguilera and others have been instrumental in driving consumers to improve their lifestyles with the use of pleasure products. This trend has sparked more interest in addressing a variety of sexual health challenges and concerns.

“Consumers are getting savvier about the quality and sourcing of their favorite products, as well as items that have longer-term health benefits,” Fun Factory’s Langknecht says. “For example, products that work both for pleasure and for orgasm-building and tissue health. Our new Stronic Petite, for example, can support a healthy libido, and lube products that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid offer not only immediate lubrication, but long-term hydration.”

Anne Hodder-Shipp, a sex educator and sex-positive PR exec, says that hormones are a hot topic right now, especially among cisgender women experiencing discomfort or difficulties with vaginal and vulvar dryness, itchiness or atrophy.

“There has been a lot of discussion on social media about the effects of hormone replacement therapy treatments and products like estrogen cream to support a range of concerns and challenges, not just those related to menopause,” Hodder-Shipp notes.

Another common issue among consumers is pelvic pain, and among the sexual wellness products being reinvented with today’s modern technology are kegel exercisers, designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and to help people with a range of conditions, including urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction. App-compatible kegel exercisers work by connecting to a smartphone app that guides users through various exercises and tracks their progress over time. Some of these devices also offer features like games that use the pelvic floor muscles to control on-screen characters. With the added convenience and gamification, app-compatible kegel exercisers have made it easier to incorporate kegel exercises into a daily routine and track progress toward a stronger pelvic floor.

Hodder-Shipp cautions, however, that some vagina owners are questioning the effectiveness of certain devices.

“Products marketed as kegel exercisers may not be providing the kind of support or results they expect, and could even be contributing to vaginal tension and discomfort,” she says.

Overall, however, sextech innovation has encouraged consumers to become more aware of their sexual wellness, Seerley finds.

“As technology has progressed, it’s allowed sexual wellness companies to offer real-time information to consumers on their own personal wellness stats,” she says. “I also think that as online or app-based dating continues to thrive, long-distance relationships are going to continue to utilize products available to keep them connected physically. So, between consumers wanting to know their personal stats and couples looking to keep their intimacy alive, that is where I feel consumer interest will fall.”

Along with using products to address a range of sexual wellness issues directly, the overall health benefits of sex are also why many consumers are investing in adult goods.

“Self-care and sexual wellness are so closely related,” Doc Johnson Sales Manager Kerin DeFrancis says. “When we experience happiness — and a good orgasm gives us happiness — the body’s natural endorphins kick in. This gives us energy, eases depression and anxiety, helps relieve pain and improves mood. Stress is a killer, so if we can help reverse some of the effects it has on the body, our overall wellness improves. We like to discuss that during our trainings and presentations.”

In order to best promote the benefits of sexual wellness, many industry professionals are consistently brushing up on their sex education. Since its 2019 debut, Hodder-Shipp’s Everyone Deserves Sex Ed (EDSE) sex educator certification program has hosted industry professionals from the adult retail, manufacturing and distribution sectors, including staff members of Doc Johnson, Lion’s Den, East Coast News, System JO and Fun Factory. EDSE recently expanded the certification to 40 hours. It can be completed online over the course of three weekends and is designed to give adult industry professionals “a modern and inclusive program that transforms the way they work with customers.”

Hodder-Shipp says she is a huge proponent of marketing products using “accurate information instead of stereotypical tropes,” as well as education training based on sources not affiliated with brands.

“Product trainings are essential to equip sales staff with the unique selling points, features and benefits of the products themselves, but they are not a replacement for sex education,” she says. “Especially knowing how much sexual health misinformation is circulating. Much of that misinformation has been present in our consciousness for so long that it feels true and is easy to receive and believe, and sales staff may be unknowingly repeating it to their customers.

“As we see accurate sex education programming being limited or outright prohibited in public schools in the U.S., I anticipate that the public will be relying on adult retail staff more than ever to answer their sexual health questions,” she adds. “Store staff deserve to be supported and equipped with the tools and knowledge they need in order to ensure they are providing the most effective and accurate customer support possible. Not only is this a harm reduction strategy, but it also establishes a trusting relationship between the store and its customers, which leads to return visits and repeat sales and helps the store compete with big online shops that can’t provide that community-oriented personal touch.”

Indeed, modern manufacturers like COTR were founded with sex education as part of their mission.

“If folks are going to invest in their pleasure, they deserve more than the product and packaging,” Faubel says. “We all know how lacking sex ed is, in general. In 2023, we onboarded Bobby Box, a certified sex educator and b-Vibe brand ambassador. We are also thrilled to announce that Tracy Felder will soon be a certified sex educator as well, adding to their wealth of existing knowledge. Having a sales and education team with this amount of retail consumer-facing experience has helped us tremendously and the next step is to be able to offer certified sex educators as our product trainers to help deliver the absolute best information when it comes to sex and pleasure and how Le Wand, b-Vibe, and The Cowgirl products can be a part of folks’ varied experiences.”

In addition to basic sex education, pleasure execs are regularly hitting the road to train retail staff on their products.

“We have expanded our store visit program as well as our video training program,” Uberlube Brand Director Cheryl Sloane says. “Our goal is always to give away more product so that people can feel the difference. Working with a product that has so much sensory attraction builds confidence at the retail level. The many staff changes in our retail stores have resulted in the need for even more trainings and store visits this year. At Uberlube, we love meeting with our retail stores so we are there whenever they ask.”

Ferencz says the lubricant manufacturer has made a significant effort this year to get back on the road to train retailers after the pandemic.

“We’ve updated our training programs to include not only product and ingredient training, but also sales tips and who the customer is for each product,” he says. “It’s not enough for associates to know what is in the product and what it is used for. We strive to train associates on how to sell each product and to whom they should sell it. In addition, we have eliminated all gendered language on our products. We champion inclusivity and fully believe that we have a lubricant for everybody.”

Faubel similarly enthuses about being “back on the ground and doing what we do best.”

“We are seeing a lot of our partners return to their in-person training seminars this year and with the growth of our sales and education team, we can divide and conquer better than ever before,” she says.

DeFrancis sees great value in face-to-face contact.

“While I’m so grateful we were able to keep in touch via Zoom these past few years, getting into customers’ space and seeing what works for each individual retailer is invaluable,” she says. “Everyone is unique and requires their own special efforts. We need to remember that what we sell is personal, and each demographic requires its own attention. We help design messages and marketing materials specifically to help our partners create a welcoming shopping experience for their customers.”

Rebecca Pinette-Dorin says that Exsens is taking a tactile approach with its marketing.

“We are reaching out extensively right now to support retailers and help them boost sales through gift-with-purchase, testers and giveaways,” she says. “We already have extensive online training materials for staff, but nothing sells product like product in hand.”

At the same time, manufacturers still appreciate the benefits of offering education online, where the information can be stored and shared on various platforms.

“We are constantly working to improve our training and marketing resources, uploading plenty of new videos on our official YouTube channels JesextenderOfficial and maleedgeofficial, and will soon provide our products with a QR code that will land on a dedicated brand info page,” Danamedic’s Griffo says.

According to Keating, product training online is better for interacting with retail staff.

“We find that hosting webinars is helpful for new products as it gives us an opportunity to have an intimate exchange with sales staff and to learn more about how we can support their success,” she says.

Toys to Watch

We queried industry experts about the bestselling products and hottest trends of the year so far, and what lies behind those successes.

“Our Unihorn collection has been our bestselling item so far this year and we have received great feedback and interest in them at XBIZ Retreat, ANME and Altitude,” Creative Conceptions’ Hadlow says. “I think their huge success is down to their uniqueness and ability to transport the user to a reminiscent fantasy world — one of pleasure and escapism.”

Doc Johnson’s DeFrancis credits the Ritual line of personal massagers for appealing to consumers with its colors, soft packaging and message behind the line.

“The pricing is also spot-on for the outstanding quality it delivers,” she says. “Each massager is made of silicone, is rechargeable and has its own unique functionality. The look really steps away from what Doc Johnson is traditionally known for, and I think our customers are excited and are supportive of the newness. It’s definitely a favorite of mine!”

Fun Factory’s new VIM vibe’s success is exceeding the company’s expectations for the wand.

“With only one month online, we expect VIM to quickly outshine our other bestsellers,” Langknecht says. “Our other bestsellers are MANTA and NOS, showing that toys that go beyond the basics for penis pleasure and couples play are powerful sellers.”

Hanzel predicts continued popularity for tried and trusted items such as rabbit vibes and enhancement pills for men and women.

“People want to enhance their sexual experiences, and people who might have issues in this area still want the experiences and intimacy that sexual encounters provide, and are looking for alternatives to prescriptions,” he says.

Ranscombe foresees a growing interest in product manufacturing sustainability.

“Consumers are increasingly interested in brands that meet their green desires and I think that is why so many people are turning to Love Not War,” he says.

No 2023 bestseller list would be complete without including the popular “air” category of puffing or suction devices. Keating sees the Womanizer OG as bringing innovation to the pleasure air category.

“Never before has there been an internal pleasure air device to stimulate the G-Spot,” she says. “Womanizer OG requires some training and education and with the help of our retail partners and their sales associates, we are seeing that translate to the consumer purchase. The success of Womanizer OG is a direct result of the training resources we provide via our academy and webinars featuring Dr. Jess O’Reilly, but primarily it’s the retailers and their teams who really make the difference.”

From personalized experiences to eco-friendly options, consumers are demanding more from their pleasure products than ever before. As the market continues to grow, we can expect to see more innovative designs and features that cater to consumers’ diverse range of needs and preferences.

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Leading a small-to-midsize adult retail business is exhilarating, yet daunting. Among the gazillion decisions you have to make, choosing the right point-of-sale (POS) system is one of the biggies. Whether you’re just setting up shop or expanding your store footprint, your POS system is the functional backbone of your operations.

Sean Quinn ·

WIA Profile: Blanca Estrada-Gonzalez

Blanca Estrada-Gonzalez will be the first to tell you that she “drops panties for a living,” and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Though Magic Silk’s star saleswoman once aspired to become a medical doctor, the universe had other plans — and those plans involved jock straps, lacy undies and see-through bedroom wear for all.

Women In Adult ·

N69 Founder Kamila Hrecka Brings Sex Ed, Products to the Polish Market

Come for the Catholic cathedrals, stay for the world-class pleasure expertise! While that may not be an official slogan, there is no denying that modern retail boutique N69 is adding a touch of intimate class to the Polish adult products market.

Colleen Godin ·

Canadian Sexual Wellness Brands Nobü, BodiSpa Reveal Goals for Growth

Today’s most beloved pleasure products often blend the adult and mainstream worlds, marketing their sensual designs in boxes that won’t deter vanilla shoppers — or mainstream retail buyers. Canadian sister brands BodiSpa and Nobü aim to embody this vision, bringing adult fantasies to even the shyest of consumers.

Colleen Godin ·

How Gen Z Is Reshaping Pleasure Product Marketing

Gen Z is breaking the customer funnel, and it’s exactly what we need. In the past, figuring out customers’ purchasing habits, both in-store and digital, was relatively straightforward. But Gen Z’s priorities are completely different from those of their predecessors, and so are their shopping habits.

Naima Karp ·

A Look at the Serious Business of Novelties in Retail

Adult retailers put a lot of thought into the products they carry. They want to offer customers high-quality sex toys with the latest technology and features, plus a robust selection of condoms and lubricants — all at competitive prices.

Rebecca Weinberg ·

Retailer Online Engagement Strategies for Pride Month

Pride month is more than a celebration; it is a platform for advocacy, inclusivity and community empowerment. As we celebrate Pride month in June, therefore, it is essential for the pleasure industry to engage with the queer community by embracing thoughtful digital marketing initiatives that resonate with LGBTQ+ audiences.

Verna Meng ·

A Deep Dive Into 'Shallowing' Sex Toys

The term “Shallowing” refers to engaging only in shallow penetration of the vagina, and/or stimulating the vaginal opening and the few centimeters inside of it, rather than deeper penetration and trying to stimulate the G-spot or A-spot.

Carly S. ·

Which Tech Should Retail Businesses Consider Outsourcing?

Since technology is the backbone of almost any retail business nowadays, one of the biggest challenges adult retailers encounter is making sure they have the right technology stack and staff needed to support growth.

Sean Quinn ·
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