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Decoding The Online Sexual Wellness Industry In India

Decoding The Online Sexual Wellness Industry In India

The adult products industry or the sexual wellness industry, as it is better known, is a multi-billion dollar industry globally, and is expected to grow to $ 52 Bn by 2020. In the last couple of years, this industry has not only grown in market size but also in product categories. Today it includes everything, ranging from condoms, lubricants, gels, erotic lingerie, massagers to adult toys, role play costumes, board games, bondage, etc. Looking at the expected growth, we know that the world is growing up, but is India also a part of this sexual revolution?

Yes! We’re getting there, slowly but surely.

Although, currently India does not find a mention in the Google searches for sex toys list of top ten countries, led by the US with the highest volume index (100) and followed by others like UK (84), South Africa (75), Australia (69), Sri Lanka (61), we are becoming aware of the industry and are demanding the products that can add the much needed zing to our relationships.

In the last couple of years in India, the sexual wellness industry has shown steady growth and the trend is expected to continue in the future. The launch of online stores like That’s Personal, IMBesharam, it’spleaZure etc. have helped bring the industry to the frontline. In an article published in 2014, profiling these players, the online portals have reported month on month sales growth of 50%-80%. This number is indicative of the consumer’s demand and awareness.

The meteoric growth of this industry across the globe (including India) can be attributed to a number of reasons –

  • The changing societal attitude towards sex, active participation of women in conversations regarding sexual wellness (both as consumers of the products and as business owners)
  • The growing awareness of and acceptance of sex as an integral part of your being and personal relationships
  • Rise of the ecommerce industry and its willingness to sell these products on their portal
  • And most importantly – the realisation that sexual pleasure is different from porn.

Convenience and privacy offered by online stores, and availability of international brands are further helping the industry grow. The rising demand for these products can also be, to an extent, attributed to people who travel or have lived abroad and have had access to adult product markets, and are now looking for a similar market in their own country.

Evolving Market Dynamics (2013-2015)

In 2013, when the Indian sexual wellness industry started gaining visibility, the market was worth only $213 Mn, out of which 57% was contributed by online condom sales and remaining by underground markets like Palika Bazar, Delhi, and Bandra Market, Mumbai, which sold cheap brands and lacked privacy and safety.

Although, the industry grew by a whopping 194% to $453 Mn in two years (2015), the product contribution did not show much change – 52% of the total market share was still from online condom sales (approx. $234 Mn). Erotic lingerie and lubricant sales from online stores were the other two major contributors to the sexual wellness market in 2015, contributing 30% and 18% respectively.

Expected Market Outlook (2016-2017 and onwards)

The future of the sexual wellness industry looks quite promising in India. Given the industry’s past performance (2014 -2015) and the growing demand for products of pleasure, experts estimate the industry to grow by 50% YOY in 2016, by 32% YOY in 2017, and by an astounding 81% in 2020, as highlighted in the table given below –

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.43.17 am

Till 2020, condoms and lubricants are expected to be the major value contributors.

Both the numbers and the current market scenario suggest that 2016 will be a turning point for the industry (emergence of new players and international brands, and a more mature consumer market). Until now,  the segment was mostly limited underground markets and shady alleys.

But achieving this growth will be no easy task. The demand is there, even the supply can be arranged; but certain legal restrictions on distribution, marketing, and sales of these products will hinder the growth. These restrictions are not only making it difficult to mass market these products, but also to reach offline consumers – thus restricting the market growth.

Apart from these factors, at it’spleaZure, we believe that there’s another factor that needs to be addressed to keep the industry on its growth trajectory and to get a respectable name for it. That is to educate people on the use of these products and remind them that these products are here to provide pleasure and not pain.