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10/28/2021

Personal pleasures: Sexual wellness evolves at retail

It’s no surprise the sexual wellness category has come into its own in the past couple of years. The products that fall under the sexual wellness umbrella — sex toys, female contraceptives, condoms and lubricants/sprays/oils — provide relaxation and lower stress. With fewer consumers embarrassed about including sexual wellness items in their lives and increased access at retail, sales have taken off.

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No longer considered taboo, the topic of sexual wellness and the products associated with it are being discussed more openly by people today. With this openness has come a shift in perspective, an evolving mindset so to speak, that there is a real correlation between the physical and mental advantages sexual wellness offers. And, because of this newfound awareness, sexual wellness has gained relevance as a lifestyle category in many retail formats.

“A few years ago, the category we call ‘sexual wellness’ didn’t exist,” said Stephanie Trachtenberg, director of marketing and PR at Satisfyer, based in New York City. “Retailers have since recognized the value of creating a destination for women’s wellness as it relates to sexual health. Now women have access like they have never had before and the destination aisle is allowing for more innovators in the space.” 

Studies, including one that Satisfyer was involved with, confirm that consumers are turning to sexual pleasure as a means of wellness. “There’s been a heightened focus on the importance of health and wellness and its impact on one’s physical, mental and social well-being. Sexual health is truly your body’s most natural resource of well-being,” she said.

[Read More: Exsens adds Intime Balance intimate cleansing gel]

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For years, the topic of sexual wellness was seen as shameful or unmentionable, but all that has changed, said Emily Sauer, founder and CEO of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Ohnut. She said with more consumers eager to learn about their bodies and more brands such as hers helmed by women who create products and messaging that speak directly to women, the category has gone from being whispered about to being openly discussed.

“When more people start talking about something that was once considered taboo, it opens up the floodgates and consumer interest skyrockets,” Sauer said.

At the same time, she said it is important to her that Ohnut is viewed as an inclusive company, both internally and in their brand messaging. “At Ohnut, we want folks to know that wherever they are at is totally OK, but also that painful sex is not something they just have to live with,” she said. 

Acceptance from All
Rebecca Pinette-Dorin, North American sales manager at Exsens based in Cranston, R.I., said among the reasons the sexual wellness category is receiving a lot of attention is because society’s moral compass is changing. “Largely thanks to millennials and Gen Z, there is a growing indifference to the concept of sexual activity, a sort of ‘of course, you have sex’ attitude,” Pinette-Dorin said. “Masturbation, sex toys and lube have become givens for most young people today, and buying these items has become commonplace.”

[Read More: Cashing in on sexual wellness as a self-care category]

“Retailers have since recognized the value of creating a destination for women’s wellness as it relates to sexual health. Now women have access like they have never had before and the destination aisle is allowing for more innovators in the space.”
Stephanie Trachtenberg, director of marketing and PR at Satisfyer.
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There has been a palpable shift in consumer buying habits, and while the pandemic is a large part of the reason, there are other factors at play. Michael Trigg, founder and CEO of Las Vegas-based Trigg Laboratories, said consumers have become much more selective when deciding between brands. 

“The information on packaging, the ingredients and the background of the company matter to consumers,” Trigg said. His company has responded by adding clean selling points and brand symbols to all its bottles. They also highlight the quality of the ingredients, the quality of their product, and the diverse and inclusive nature of their company, including Trigg being a member of the LGBTQ community and the fact that the company has a female president. 

Innovation in Quality, Experience
App-enabled products have been on the rise since the pandemic began and are now seen as essential in overcoming the added stress that comes with feeling more isolated and disconnected. Trachtenberg’s company developed the Satisfyer Connect app as a natural next step in reaching a wider audience while also broadening the ways users could enjoy its products. “We recognized that app-based products can unlock new opportunities and extensions of one’s daily lifestyle,” she said. “Expanding the technology and maintaining price points has enabled us to invite more users to enjoy our products as essential lifestyle tools.” 

As category sales continue to rise, it is up to retailers to keep up with consumer demand for the latest innovation and technology. “We believe everyone deserves access to the best sexual lifestyle experience and price should not be a barrier to achieve this,” Trachtenberg said.

[Read More: Skyn unveils new intimate accessories]

When Sauer created Ohnut it was with the intent to help address sexual wellness challenges, including painful sex/intimacy issues. The result was a wearable device that allows users to customize penetration depth. 

“Largely thanks to millennials and Gen Z, there is a growing indifference to the concept of sexual activity, a sort of ‘of course, you have sex’ attitude,”
Rebecca Pinette-Dorin, North American sales manager at Exsens
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“For as many as 75% of women, intimacy can be uncomfortable whether that is from a condition such as endometriosis, sexual trauma, childbirth or menopause. These are the folks we serve,” Sauer said

In first quarter 2022, Trigg Laboratories is launching Organic95, a certified organic lubricant with environmentally friendly packaging. “Not only is this formula good for the planet, it is also vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, as well as paraben- and glycerin-free,” Trigg said.

The company has also introduced its Luxury Collection, a line of lubricants in three formulas – water based, a water and silicone hybrid, and pure silicone. It is available in both 3.1-fl.-oz sizes as well as a TSA-compliant 1-fl.-oz. three-pack. “The three-pack has become a top seller and that trial has led consumers to return for the larger sizes of their favorites,” Trigg said.  

[Read More: Selling past the taboo: The sexual wellness set gets an upgrade]

According to Pinette-Dorin, Exsens’ flavored warming massage oils, personal lubricants and intimate cleansers have been trending. “A combination of boredom and a need for stress relief had everyone trying new self-care products last year. Self-love was all that was keeping them sane after months of quarantine.” 

Because Exsens’ audience is primarily women and couples, the company made it a point to differentiate itself from the male-centric, overly sexy, medical packaging that existed. “And, aside from being vegan and paraben-free, our brand is centered on being pretty, fun and ingredient conscious,” she said.  

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