Sex is everywhere, but it seems that most people forget this most celebrated universal addiction. We get so caught up about being sexually normal that we forget that the entire world is having sex. The only normal element is that we are all doing it differently. Take a look outside your window. Old people, young people, your parents, bosses, even that weird couple across the street, they all have sex. It’s really not a big deal. Everybody deserves a great sex life, not just porn-stars and ridiculously good looking people. Yet for most of history, people have tried to regulate your sexuality. Did you know masturbation was once considered punishable by death? Sex toys are still illegal in some parts of the Unites States. And Sodomy Laws still exist (yes, that means butt sex will send you to JAIL). No wonder any conversation involving sex toys can cause some to freak out and inspire others to get freaky.
I have been a part of this growing industry starting five years ago and I can tell you that there is incredible untapped opportunity for designers in this business. The first question I usually get after exchanging business cards is how I got started in this industry. I usually prefer to announce with a big smile, “You should follow your passions!”, and then slightly more serious, “Well, why not?” All designers have a passion to create products that improves peoples lives. Passion, laughter, human touch, desire are all deep emotions and basic necessities that a designer may channel when developing new concepts. The story behind the sex toy product is no different. The reluctance comes from decades of marketing sex toys in the same space as pornography (nothing wrong with good porn though). Of course there are other social issues, but from my experience this old strategy lingers the most. You can tell by the assumptions people make about sex toys. For the most part, the responses I get are, “Oh I bet these products do very well in the night clubs?” On the contrary, young people, especially young guys are not the target audience at all, which is what one would think since sex toys have been typically plastered with your favorite porn stars. In fact, our best customers are serious couples or older men and women with prior sexual experience, typically after the age of 25 and up to 55 (perhaps older now because of Viagra).
It’s very rare for me to have any lengthy discussion about my line of work, simply because it’s too personal or too intimate a subject for most people. Even though millions of men and women use them daily, it’s still uncomfortable to talk about openly. But I notice more and more that this attitude is also changing for the better. New forms of social media are allowing people to open up and share their personal stories, offering advice and tips with the right amount of anonymity that the internet can provide.
After all, it’s not about how a person feels about the product, but how it makes them feel about themselves. Our sexuality is quite simply who we are, but there can be so much disappointment, shame and pain associated with sex. If you look at sex toys in this light, then you realize the tremendous potential they have in creating experiences with deep emotional connections. The types of experiences that empowers the user to lead a more fulfilling life. Sex toys are fun, invigorating, useful and if done right from product to packaging, will have a lasting positive impact. What designer could resist such a challenge?