Hewson’s history as market analysts pre 2009 was predominantly in the Customer Management area. The company became – through research and publications – probably the most influential CRM analysts in Europe. Reports such as Emerging Information Technologies- A Marketing Opportunity (Hewson;McDonald;Wilson) had a profound influence on corporate thinking. Hewson therefore had direct experience and involvement a classic emerging market with a supplyside that went from innovator companies to IT giants and hence to the $35bn industry that exists today and which Gartner predict will, in 2017, overtake ERP as the biggest ever business application .
We also established Thought Leadership platforms with organisations like Experian and Price WaterhouseCoopers and as the market matured we carried out much M&A work, Investment advisory and portfolio rationalisation.
The Female Consumer
The decision that we took in 2009 to research and report on the Women’s Sexual Goods sector might be considered an unusual one but is in fact an identification of an important emerging market. As it has turned out, what we have found is really quite extraordinary and laden with wider lessons of many kinds. Firstly, it should be said that sexual goods (mainly in this sense, sex toys and lubricants) are important to women and that well over half of all sexually active women in Western Europe, North America and Australia are ‘users’. This represents a massive consumer group but one that, generally speaking, has never been the subject of normal business practice. In effect, there has been no advertising or PR or proper merchandising. The retail infrastructure is predominantly dysfunctional and was not originally aimed at women (with notable exceptions). Women have driven their own product market through a form of determined pragmatism and the developed result has been quite startling with a diaspora of mainly small companies involved in the supplyside.
It might be said that this extraordinary shift in female attitudes and behaviour in the course of only fifteen years has been largely ignored by mainstream commerce. None more so than in the area of personal lubricant where not one significant Beauty or Skincare brand makes or sells lubricant. The question of ‘does this matter” is the one to which the research of Women Sex and Shopping is directed at in 2016-7. Prima facie it would seem to matter a lot. Lubricant is potentially important to women of all ages but particularly so to the 45+ age group which just happens to be the most powerful of all the economic segments and the one that it perhaps the most ignored in sexual goods category. The research we are undertaking on this subject will answer many questions and one of those will be “Is the absence of brands from the lubricant market a really significant indicator where the older women consumer is concerned?”