The Personal Lubricant Report 2019-20

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Report Content

Personal Lubricant – Report, Analysis and Client Advisory.

Product Markets that directly involve sex or rely on sexual research are comparatively rare but those that exist are of considerable importance. They present complexity of a high order whether that complexity lies with behaviours or in market infrastructures and dysfunctions. The Lubricant Market is a case in point and understanding it requires the observer to go far beyond what is presented today as the market state. It is essentially a futures market because almost all aspects we can see today are deeply flawed and in need of a supercession to a far more appropriate model.
The report considers the behavioural and attitudinal side that informs present lubricant use and is a critical factor in market development. It also considers what should be the appropriate market response and the product markets and dynamics that will be the necessary outcome.


Extract from The Introduction…….

“Taboos are breaking down as women demand not only empowerment but also education and understanding of their bodies and health. Meanwhile, the culture of connected modern feminism is creating new platforms and forums for exploring women’s sexual fulfillment and celebrating all aspects of their bodies.”   J Walter Thompson Intelligence   Trends and Change to watch

One of the curious aspects of the Personal Lubricant market for women is that most of the common assumptions that people make about it are wrong.   ‘It’s a well understood product mainly for older women and the product had been around for ever and mainly available in drugstores’ – this would be the shorthand summary.   Such views would be very misguided but would nevertheless be based on small elements of truth.  A dysfunctional marketplace is the result and one that, in many ways, does a disservice to women’s sexual wellbeing and to their powers of agency as consumers..

It would be idle to suggest that – as a concept – the use of lubricant is somehow a modern day innovation. Improvised solutions probably date back to the dawn of humanity but substitute products are often neither wise nor effective and certainly not widely available via product markets. The cultural narrative that threads through history and literature about post-menopausal women losing sexual function (being literally ‘dried -up’) suggests a situation that was not often remedied and with an acceptance of fate that has unhelpful overtones today.  Contemporary Lubricant in its short existence, has until very recently, been aimed squarely at dysfunction, merchandised as such and sold via medicinal type outlets.

Personal Lubricant, as commonly understood, has indeed enjoyed only a short existence.  KY Jelly dates back to the beginning of the 20th Century with an initial use in medicine.  Its sexual use evolved over time but it was not until 1980 that any lubricant was available Over The Counter in the USA.   As this availability, worldwide, tended to be aimed at ‘dysfuntion’ lubricant was confined to chemists until the post-millenia when smaller, more pleasure focused, brands became a factor together with distribution via adult outlets and the Internet.  Durex, now the dominant brand globally and current owner of KY,  has only been a factor in the last decade but its more innovatory products can be seen in a broader retail environment including supermarkets. 

A few years of any sort of evolved maturity are not enough to disturb deep rooted assumptions and beliefs about lubricant.  This is particularly so when very little research or education offers a different understanding.  The large scale 2010 Indiana University research into lubricant use made so many positive conclusions that it would have changed many perspectives had it achieved  wider readership. The Hewson research (2015-18) has not yet had sought any publicity but it establishes (albeit on a provisional basis) that lubricant has very definitive effects across all active age ranges.  Because the research used a ‘scoring’ mechanism we can, for the first time, quantify the extent of the impact that the product can have:

  1. The increase in Pleasure appears very significant
  1. The Psychological  (reassurance et al) impacts can be critical
  1. There is a hitherto little understood influence on Arousal that may be of great importance 

Lubricant is of Importance across Age Ranges

The Hewson research (to be extended and re-inforced in 2019) dispels most of the common assumptions that we referred to earlier……….

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