Report Content

Women Sex and Shopping – Report, Analysis and Client Advisory.

The Women Sex and Shopping (WSS) report, together with its associated research programme, considers the global market in sexually relevant goods for women.  It is informed by earlier WSS research carried out by Hewson since 2009 which is regarded as an authorative analysis of the marketplace and of the causal links between sexual behaviours and erotically linked goods and services.  WSS established the very considerable extent of the female consumer user community, concluding that the majority of women in the Western Economies were users of sexual goods in some way.

The 2016-17 Research and Report is focussed on the topic of Personal Lubricants.  This is because Hewson regard this an area of paramount importance for many women and particularly the older age groups who, it might be argued, have been largely ignored by the commercial world – and this has many implications for how mainstream brands distance themselves from female sexuality.  However, the report, research and analysis does not confine itself to lubricant.  Understanding the subject is a complex challenge and requires an understanding of all sexually relevant goods as well as an appreciation of changes in female sexual behaviours and retail expectations.

The complexity of the subject area has encouraged us to change the format of what we offer to clients.  WSS is now much more of a subscription to an Industry Analyst service.  Whereas before we provided and updated one major report we now provide a background report and an ongoing series of ‘Analyst Notes’ across five main subject streams.  These are:

  • Retail Environments (Emotional Goods)
  • Personal Lubricants
  • Sex Toys and Accessories
  • Female Sexual Behaviours and Attitudes
  • Older Women (40-70)

The Notes are usually 2-4 pages and are a flexible way of dealing with a myriad of issues and analysis.  This year will bring in a great deal of field data and the Notes also serve as regular analysis of what we are receiving and can, of course, be adjusted to meet client needs with more agility. We expect to publish 100-200 Notes in 2016-7

Analyst Notes – Examples (published April 2016):

  • The potential entry into the Personal Lubricant market of Beauty/Skincare Brands
  • The entry of brands on incumbent players in Personal Lubricants
  • Sexual Goods market trends:  size, growth and direction 2016
  • The Older Woman (40+) Emotional Goods Economy: Misunderstood and Left Out?
  • Pragmatism in the Female Consumer: Masking over the gaps?
  • WSS Lubricant Pilot Study: Some Implications
  • Emotional Goods Retail:  Is the High Street in need of a revolution?
  • Sexual Wellness:  Does Society underestimate the economic impacts?
  • What is the possibility that sexually related goods are an important consumer portal for luxury goods?

2016/17 Report Executive Summary

  1. Only one substantial research study has hitherto been carried out into the use of personal lubricant and the effect on female sexual experience. Indiana University 2009 research involving nearly 2,500 women clearly showed that using water based lubricant significantly enhanced female pleasure and satisfaction levels.
  1. A Hewson Group Pilot Study in 2015 amongst 117 lubricant users showed very high levels of effectiveness.  Amongst older women (nearly half the sample were 40+) the average ratings were around 7.5 (on a scale of 0-9) for both improved sexual pleasure and psychological support.  This, at the very least, confirmed Indiana.
  1. Previous Hewson Group research (Women Sex and Shopping) established that  100 -150 million women were sex toy users.  This is an amazingly large consumer group given that sex toy design, manufacture, marketing and retail sit, in the main, completely outside of mainstream commercial norms. Sexual goods matter to these women.
  1. The sex toy example demonstrates that women act and have been obliged to act pragmatically in matters relating to sexuality.  Lubricants provide, to some degree, a replica model to sex toys with small but well regarded brands substituting for those Brands that should be active – together with an almost wholly inappropriate retail model.
  1. For the female consumer, it is not clear why major Beauty and Skincare brands are absent from the market, particularly those with anti ageing product ranges.  It is equally unclear in 2016 why women should only be able to buy lubricant in drugstores, supermarkets and adult outlets.
  1. Female consumers are unable to buy lubricant in almost any store in the world where Beauty, anti ageing or ‘Wellness’ marketing narratives are to the fore. As clients of any given preferred brand their needs are manifestly ignored. This particularly impacts the most ‘interested’ cohort – wealthy 45+ women who are largely forgotten by the Adult Store world.
  1. Research into sexuality in older age-groups is poor or non-existent.   It seems likely however that increasing lifespans and active sexual lives deep into old age make lubricant a quasi-mandatory (as well as desirable) product for a substantial part of the adult population.  Given the likely health benefits –both physical and mental – from sexual wellbeing there is a clear societal interest in sexually related products that support this.