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The future of beauty stores is a farewell to prudence

Here's why buying objects for sexual pleasure in beauty store will be more frequent

The future of beauty stores is a farewell to prudence  Here's why buying objects for sexual pleasure in beauty store will be more frequent

Increasingly, in the aisles of beauty stores, customers can find vibrators and lubricants alongside moisturizers, lipsticks, eye shadow and mascara. It is the rise of a new and broader concept of beauty that no longer includes not only physical and mental wellness, but also sexual well-being. No longer the taboo it once was, sex has found a world of opportunity within retail. And vice versa. Just think that the global sexual wellness market is estimated to grow to $37.19 billion by 2022 and is set to grow exponentially in the coming years. How did this happen?

Until not too long ago, everything revolving around sex, intimacy, and masturbation, especially female masturbation, was treated as something private or dirty and, as a result, products dedicated to this sphere were relegated to sex shops or the farthest corners of outlets. In recent years, the perception of these items has begun to change, largely due to #MeToo, third-wave feminism and Gen Z, which have normalized conversations about women's rights and pleasures by removing the shame often associated with them. A further boost came from the pandemic. Forced apart from their partners, people have shifted their sex lives into the digital world, increasing views of Pornhub, OnlyFans, and Tinder, and, at the same time, sales of sex toys have skyrocketed with increases included between 30% and 200%. Demand for vibrators & co. has grown in tandem with the spending power of Gen Z and the arrival of a new cohort of start-ups. From Unbound to Maude and Dame, these new brands have given sex toys and products dedicated to sexual wellness a softer aesthetic with Instagrammable packaging in line with trends seen in luxury beauty products, vibrant branding, and effective advertising that promotes them as a symbol of empowerment, thus paving their way to a new sales positioning that does not disfigure among creams, eyeliners, and face masks. All-Italian offerings such as those from Y-Spot and Wovo Store also remain in line with trends seen in luxury beauty products, thanks to vibrant branding and effective advertising that promotes sex toys and sexual wellness as a symbol of empowerment, from designs that can also be used as furniture items in the case of glass products.

Amazon and Goop, with its branded vibrators and the hugely popular Smells Like Vagina candle, have long realized this: sexual wellness products are the future (or present) of beauty retailers. In the past two years, big names in the industry such as Walmart and Target have followed suit. BoF summarizes it well: in 2021, Bloomingdales and Nordstrom added lubricants and vibrators, and this year Sephora began stocking Maude and Dame vibrators, sex products from vitamin makers Hum and Moon Juice, and vaginal skin defense drops from Dr. Barbara Sturm. Target introduced Bloomi, a lubricating and cleansing vibrator, and Cake, a sex toy model dedicated to LGBTQ people that is also sold at Walmart, while in July Selfridges launched with Maude its "Feel Good Bar" full of sex-enhancing products. 

As Rachel ten Brink, founding partner of venture capital agency Red Bike Capital and a veteran of Estée Lauder and L'Oréal, pointed out, "The consumer has pushed this conversation about sexual wellness and how sexual wellness is health, it’s not a dirty secret." And by doing so, it has opened a new and rather profitable avenue to sex toys & co., right alongside La Mer and The Ordinary.