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.
Hewson set out to consider and prove a number of key propositions with regard to Lubricant:
- The Personal Lubricant Market (for Women) is seriously under-developed and has critical dysfunctions in its current guise. It may be as low as 10-20% of revenue potential.
- A lack of understanding of the product’s benefits amongst users, manufacturers, retailers and media commentators profoundly inhibits wider usage and market development.
- Although suggestions of product-type equivalence are arguably, not appropriate; it is highly likely that when fully understood and developed, Personal Lubricant will prove more important and of wider overall impact to women than Viagra is for men.
- Lubricant is commonly considered a Dysfunction remedy and has been marketed as such for many years. In fact, the research suggests that it is a powerful pleasure-enhancer and has significant psychological benefit across all ages. For post-menopausal women it is sexually transformative.
- Lubricant is currently available from three main sources – both Online and on High Street: Pharmacies, Supermarkets and Adult Outlets. There is a plausible case for all of these being market aligned to a degree. But the natural ‘home’ for lubricant lies within Beauty and Skincare products and the wider retail environments these are sold in.
- There maybe an Emotional Chain that influences the effect of lubricant that involves Brand, Purchasing Environment, Packaging and ‘learnt’ pleasure enhancement through usage and product association.
- Lubricant will prove to have an important cornerstone role in Beauty and Skincare ranges. It works and engenders product loyalty.
- In the near/medium future it will be very important for many brands and retailers to demonstrate a greater understanding of Female Lifestyle and wellbeing needs – particularly when perceptions of inequality could potentially be involved. An anti-ageing product range without Lubricant may be hard to defend – on many grounds.
- The only two research studies of any note into the use of Personal Lubricant by women draw much the same conclusions. For known users, Lubricant is a pleasure enhancer across all age groups. The Hewson research suggests that this is a serious (sometimes transformative) uplift and perhaps as importantly, Lubricant bestows a psychological confidence that may be a critical factor in a woman’s personal life and in older women, considerations of self-worth and self-confidence. If these findings cannot be disproved then the claim is substantiated that Lubricant could prove to be more widely important than Viagra – in which case a major (and arguably, indefensible) market failure is almost certainly in play.
- Lubricant is commonly understood to be an aid to human mechanics and to make friction related acts either possible or better. Because this associates most clearly with vaginal dryness the perception of ‘dysfunction’ remains the most prevalent. The Hewson research provides strong indicators that Lubricant is, either directly or indirectly, an arousal product. This is not fully understood but there may be many interconnected causalities.
- The particular relevance of Lubricant to older women (45+) has a commercial importance. These women, as consumers, are amongst the most powerful in the world. They should not feel excluded, ignored or patronised by either the brands or the retailers that they might logically expect to provide intimate but emotionally critical products. The absence of branded Lubricant (from the main Skincare and Beauty brands) is even more questionable given that merchandising may be entirely aligned with the norm.
- Leading brands and retailers have, to a large extent, proved to be tone deaf where sexually related goods (of all kinds) for women are concerned. In isolation, the failures of the lubricant market might be understandable but evidence suggests female consumers are not always well served in other markets such as Financial Services, Automotive and Entertainment. A much wider question is raised here.
Need to Know –in 2018
We need to know more about non-users and their views and also about women who have retreated from sex because of physical difficulties. We need to understand if there are different sorts of lubricant buyer and if the brand or retail outlet influences effectiveness. The Hewson respondent base strongly suggests that a product/retail association with pleasure and success is in play but we don’t yet understand all the causal factors involved.
We need to gain more insight into what brand entry and a change in retail attitudes may mean. Will more media coverage and ‘benefit’ education alter behaviours? Will a high effect/loyalty product impact aligned categories?
- Market Background
- What can be learnt from the growth/static state of the sex toy industry
- Female Consumer Pragmatism
- Previous Lubricant Research
- Sexual Goods Market Dynamics
Respondents were asked to score various questions on a 0-9 scale
- Pleasure enhancement from using Lubricant
- Psychological security from using Lubricant
- Impact on frequency of Sexual Activity
- Frequency of sexual activity
Respondents were asked to offer opinions on the following
- Psychological effect of ‘wetness’ in arousal or activity
- Psychological effect of objects or emotive brands
- Issues surrounding the application of lubricant
- Preferred types of lubricant
Market Development and Product Issues
NB: These are evolving issues dealt with in on-going analysis by Hewson
- The entry of Beauty and Skincare brands and associated retail
- The opportunities and threats for incumbents
- The older woman market – attitudes, dangers of ignoring et al
- Merchandising Lubricant
- Lubricant as a Loyalty Product