The laws that govern sexual wellness products and sex toys are old, prudish and vague – but that hasn’t stopped India’s young and old from embracing there sexuality and find their own magic wands of pleasure online.
Historically, India has been a land that has embraced its sexuality and even revered it. It’s the land of Kamasutra, the world’s first texts on sexuality, and many monumental artifacts depicted on cave walls and temples depict India’s endorsement.
The trend was somewhat broken somewhere in the middle of India’s millenniums of history. As societies evolved, the most natural pleasure of man became a taboo, a hush hush conversation that’s restricted to bedrooms.
But now the mindset is changing quickly and Indians seem to be overcoming their inhibitions. Not just embracing their sexuality, but taking it to another level.
Today, Indians across cities, big and small, are experimenting with sexual wellness products and erotica accessories.
Today, Indians across cities, big and small, are experimenting with sexual wellness products and erotica accessories. So much so, that in spite of no formal laws allowing such a market, a survey by ThatsPersonal.com, an online adult sexual wellness products retailer, projected the size of the sex toy market in India to reach Rs. 10,000 crore by 2020.
Sex Toys sales to boost to whopping USD 1.6 billion by 2020
According to a global study by Technavio, in 2016 the global sex toy industry was worth approximately $15 billion. The study forecasts the number to cross $29 billion by 2020, growing year on year at 7 per cent.
Indian sex toy market is expected to touch $1.6 billion by 2020.
In comparison, the Indian sex toy market is growing in leaps and bounds where in 2015, it stood at $453 million, it is expected to touch $1.6 billion by 2020, growing at a rate of 29.19 per cent annually.
Sexual products and wellness market has come a long way from condoms and lubes. Today blooming online stores offer contraceptives, performance enhancers, naughty lingerie, role play outfits, arousal products, erotica accessories, handcuffs, blindfolds, floggers, massagers, edible lingerie, role play costumes, gels and massage oils.
Vague legality, repressive laws
The laws which guide the sale of these products is vague and prudish in India. While it is prohibited to sell “obscene products”, retailers can still exploit loopholes as there is no definition of sex toys. This enables them to offer a variety of accessories.
The laws in India prohibit selling “obscene products”, but retailers can still tread between the lines as there is no definition of sex toys.
India is a decent consumer of top international brands like Lelo, Hustler and We-Vibe. On the ground, it isn’t legal to start brick and mortar sex toy shops in India. But no such rules apply to e-commerce.
The country has indigenous online brands like ThatsPersonal.com, guptt.in and itspleazure.com. Basic erotica accessories can also be fetched from internet giants like Amazon.com. Companies are exploiting the opportunity in the market and are witnessing surge in demand.
Although stuff like dildos cannot be sold owing to the fact that it resembles female genitalia. But things like handcuffs, and even vibrators shaped like lipsticks or small pens are not considered in the “obscene category”.
India loves Sex Toys – believe it or not!
The sex toy market in India is being driven by young millennial. The third edition of India Uncovered survey, which observes trends and patterns of leveraging sex toys and accessories in India, 44 per cent of the customers fall in the 25-34 years age group. The age group forms the highest cart amount and also come back more often.
Almost 16% come from above the age of 45 and boast a higher ticket price, driving the market for luxury erotica. The above 45 age group is more dominated by females, as per the survey.
Almost 16% come from above the age of 45 and boast a higher ticket price, driving the market for luxury erotica.
Surveys also observe in general a pattern wherein Indian females are more open to experimentation with products in the domain in comparison to male counterparts. Women also have a cart size that is 18 per cent more than men.
Which states top the demand?
The sex toys market is still mostly driven by the metropolitans. Top five markets for erotica accessories are the five biggest cities Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata, as per the Indian Uncovered study.
Tier II cities like Guwahati, Coimbatore, Indore and Surat registered a strong 25 percent rise in customer demand.
But the market is catching up fast in tier II cities. Cities like Guwahati, Coimbatore, Indore and Surat registered a strong 25 percent rise in customer demand. The demand for sex toys reaches as far as tier III cities such as Nanded, Dibrugarh, Imphal and Bellari.
The major products in demand as per the India Uncovered Study were lubricants, intimate massagers, sexy lingerie, role play costumes and handcuffs. The states with highest demands are Assam, Bengal, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh. Other cities driving traffic are Bhopal, Panjim, Jaipur, Udaipur, Kochi, Lucknow, Rohtak, Haldwani, Gurugram and Noida.
Towards a more open society?
Although in its nascent stages, India’s sexual wellness and erotica market has shown good momentum. Less than a decade old, the industry has seen confident demand from a more open society. The online to doorstep service has helped people embrace these products in secrecy without judgmental eyes in the open.
The nascent market as of now consists of few hush hush ground operations such as in Palika Bazaar in Delhi, but the online outlets have thrived. But India’s sexual wellness industry is not mature enough to gauge the future at this stage.
The nascent market on ground consists of few hush hush operations such as in Palika Bazaar Delhi, but the online outlets have thrived.
The laws which govern the market are murky as of yet. Which lets retailers sell stuff which is not “obscene”. But it also keeps many mainstream rage products still out of the market. Also, a properly regulated environment will surely help the market to be bolder and reach out to more target audience.
But on the other hand, in a country like India, it might be better to leave the laws vague, because who knows, if they enter the parliament for scrutiny, they might end up being more repressive than they already are.
By: Chitresh Sehgal, Senior Editor, Dkoding Media