Hewson Group is a market analyst and client advisory company established in 1989 and widely regarded as one of the originators of the CRM (customer relationship management) application area that is now the biggest business application that has ever existed. Hewson’s significant record in identifying new market areas and their likely development has continued with work about the female economy based on the research project Women Sex and Shopping which has featured in various media from the BBC to the Daily Mail, Wall St Journal and Marie-Claire and Cosmopolitan.
From 2010 to the present day, Women Sex and Shopping (WSS) has looked at the global market in sexually related goods for women. This very significant but little understood consumer group comprises the majority of adult women in North America and Western Europe. The current focus is on Personal Lubricants (The Personal Lubricant Report 2017), a subject our research has shown to be of great importance – not just physically but also psychologically. There is a seemingly accepted narrative, particularly in retail, that lubricant is a dysfunction product. The very term ‘dysfunction’ is one we do not like and it has patronising overtones. There is, of course, an element of necessity that for many reasons may sometimes occur but that acknowledgement would seem, on the research evidence to miss the main point by some way.
For the current research Hewson devised a scoring methodology that rated a number of aspects of lubricant use on a scale of 0-9. For the first time, women were able to make a quantifiable judgement about pleasure enhancement, psychological effect and impact on sexual activity. The results, over hundreds of responses so far, might be considered revolutionary with average scores on pleasure enhancement and psychological effect over 7 in all age groups above 25. Taken together with a clear increase on sexual activity and a much observed incidence of quasi-arousal from lubricant application then something transformational is in play – at least for some women.
What we don’t know is how big the ‘user’ communities are – or indeed the non-user. We don’t know what the inhibitors and promoting factors are. Very big questions arise about who makes lubricant and where it is sold. It is hard to avoid the feeling that Beauty and Skincare brands should be directly involved and lubricant should be sold in places where women might prefer to shop for it and not be limited to the old dysfunction model. Hard too, to understand why the world’s most important consumer – the Older Woman – should be so little understood or catered for. The 2017-18 research will try and answer the many and complex questions that surround lubricant and its future marketplace.