Sexual well-being capitalizes on the way from the niche to the general public

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The role of retail

As with most white space efforts, a key to unlocking all opportunities requires representation in traditional retail channels. The opportunity for retailers in this category has always existed, but historically shoppers have been hesitant. Some visionary merchants adopted early pioneers like Jimmyjane, but struggled with where to market these brands, which is often the case when defining white space opportunities.

Goop approached the subject of sex through the prism of wellness with his enthusiastic embrace of jade eggs, vaginal vapor and the launch of a candle named This Smells Like My Vagina, creating a controversy along the way that normalized the discussion of the intimate parts and functions of the body. . Where Gwyneth went, others followed.

Products promoting sex are no longer hidden – remember the back room of Ricky’s NYC beauty store – today they are marketed in the front and center. Online beauty and lifestyle retailers like Cult Beauty and Feelunique have led the way, creating destinations for this new category of brands. As the category became acceptable to the general public, brick and mortar retail followed suit, holistically integrating sexual wellness into their assortments and reshaping the concept of self-care. It’s hard to find a retailer today that doesn’t have sexual wellness products in their product line. According to recent Spate research numbers, consumers are increasingly turning to Target and Dollar General for sexual wellness products, with an increase of 15.7% and 14.9% respectively since last year .

Category pilots

As with many trends, COVID-19 has accelerated the pull of the sexual wellness category and these anti-stigma start-ups. The pandemic has put sex life under the microscope, shifting the conversation around sexual well-being and pleasure. As lockout restrictions are lifted, retailers are witnessing a post-pandemic “explosion” in consumer interest in privacy.

In early May, Boots UK reported that condom sales had nearly doubled with a 98% increase in sales, while online searches for condoms increased by more than 30% and searches for sex toys increased by 50%. from one year to the next. Competitor Superdrug saw a 65% increase in online condom sales and a 232% increase in online sales of lubricants and toys.

Millennials and Gen Z are responsible for the massive shift in the perception of the category of sexual wellness, purchasing these products for themselves through the lens of self-care. Although young adults tend to have less sex, Gen Z has a relatively open attitude towards sex. However, it is not just the younger generations who are embracing sexual wellness. The founders of Generation X are adamant in addressing the lack of information and products addressing the 34-66 (depending on who you ask) menopause symptoms, creating brands and communities for women to take control of this. stage of life.

The intergenerational focus on women’s health, preventative wellness, and holistic care has resulted in an influx of products and services focused on vaginal care, from washes, wipes and moisturizers to dermatological procedures and nursing services. spa, all of which fall under the umbrella of personal care and constitute the assortment of sexual wellness brands.

Technavio attributes the growth of the category to five key factors: mainstream media exposure, ease of purchase and availability, changes in social norms, a marked increase in the number of start-ups in the category and changing perceptions of investors.

Follow the money

In March, Healthy Pleasure Group, a UK sex tech specialist, launched Amboy Street Ventures, the world’s first venture capital fund focused solely on sexual health and tech start-ups. Its first two investments were made in the sexual wellness brand Dame and in the telemedicine clinic for menopause Gennev. According to Pitchbook, the number of venture capital deals in the femtech space, which includes mainstream sexual wellness brands, reached an all-time high of 76 deals in 2019 representing $ 558 million in investment. As of August 2021, $ 812 million had been invested in 61 deals.

Investors love role models and often support businesses that look, sound, or feel familiar. Changes in consumer behavior and attitudes towards sex and sexual health, coupled with increasing opportunities in traditional retailing, have motivated investment in what has become the category of good. -be sexual. Investors claiming a trend have become a prerequisite for creating the tipping point to move from niche to mainstream. We are seeing such an inflection point in the burgeoning category of sexual well-being. While the category is broad for our purposes, our focus is on the business flow related to brands that are squarely at the intersection of beauty and wellness.


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