Two months ago, in our story Sextech: A Booming Billionaire Dollar Industry, we talked about sexual wellness as an industry with tons of potential, yet underfunded.
Sextech, which has evolved from a male-focused industry to a female-focused wellness business, is set to enhance everything from medicine to pleasure.
In 2020 alone, there were more than 36 million connected sextech devices, up 87% year-on-year. There are expectations that the sexual wellness market would double over the upcoming five years from 62 billion USD today to 125 billion USD by 2026.
The sextech industry is set for a surge of funding as the sex-positive movement continues to social norms and lift taboos, offering several opportunities for businesses along the way.
Our previous story explored opportunities across five key areas of the industry: tech before sex, sex toys, hygiene, security, and ecommerce.
Today, we will uncover five more opportunities in the space, including:
- Overcoming Barriers: From compliance automation to payment processing, sextech is calling out for solutions.
- Sexual Health: Personalized supplements and tech solutions will empower consumers to take control of their sexual health.
- Male Sexual Wellness: Removing the stigma around male sextech with anonymous communities and offering direct access to health professionals to drive change in the industry.
- SexEd: Inclusive sex education programs for teenagers and parents are untapped; there is a demand for alternative sexual knowledge.
- Intimacy Future: For several, intimacy in the future will be linked with tech, from virtual experiences to sex robots.
“It is hard to overestimate the sextech market or the challenges in getting past the taboos that come with it,” says Andrea Barrica in her book, Sextech Revolution (1). “Businesses in the sexual wellness space face an uphill battle in bringing their offerings to the market.”
Solutions in key segments would place businesses first in line at the lucrative space.
Most payment processors, including PayPal, will not work in the adult category products (2).
Notably, adult platforms have to jump multiple hoops because they can not use regular payment processors. In other words, they have to create their own payment platform.
Usually, sextech companies also have to pay close to double the payment processing costs compared to other non-adult category businesses (3).
Creating a payment processor for sextech platforms is a huge opportunity.
Sexual wellness services and products are also a great use case for blockchain. The concourse of these two areas is likely to result in a blooming symbiotic relationship, allowing both sextech businesses and consumers to access fast and anonymous payments at low fees.
Moreover, blockchain would allow adult content platforms to implement reward systems, where consumers or viewers get tokens that they can redeem and use in the niche.
SpankChain, for instance, is a startup in the space. They are the pioneer to capitalize on the solutions blockchain provides to the rising sextech industry.
Most mainstream search engines and social media sites ban adult content ads. It is not uncommon for sextech businesses’ social media profiles to be frequently dismissed (4).
Their policies can be pretty strict. While they may be able to use paid digital, their every ad may be denied, and sextech companies have to approach the matter manually.
Nonetheless, entrepreneurs are looking for creative ways to overcome the issue, from purchasing review platforms to sponsoring newsletters and podcasts.
You can leverage the appeal of influencers and OnlyFan creators. You can also take a step further and offer OnlyFan stars with an option to build sextech based on molds of their body parts or tech that uses their scents or voice. Ryan Driller, for instance, has already collaborated with Fleshlight (5).
Suppose you are not offering a medical product. In that case, you can also take offerings less seriously. Awkward Essential is a shining example of how humor and strong brand messaging can quickly go viral.
Businesses can also focus on strong branding, relatable content, and an authentic presence on social media platforms. Celebrity endorsements can be another attractive course.
The brand MVMT has notoriously utilized influencer marketing to bootstrap their way to 300 million USD in 5 years (6). As the sextech industry is turning mainstream, foraying into social media would offer huge growth.
Even if several sextech companies solve health issues around sex, most manufacturers still don’t work with adult products.
Entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on this space can build new subcategories and more inclusive policies, seizing market share from less spirited rivals.
Entrepreneurs can also tap into the opportunity by leveraging the surge of 3D printing covered in our recent story.
There are no enterprise software solutions that address the barriers in the sextech industry and enable good scaling. But, it would be only a matter of time before the scene will change.
Fyllo, for example, fresh off a 30 million USD Series B funding round (7), is working to offer digital marketing and compliance tech solutions for businesses in the highly regulated cannabis industry.
A similar approach for the sextech industry can be a big opportunity. Businesses can focus on software that offers media, data, regulatory, and retail solutions that allow these companies to streamline compliance and scale at a rapid pace.
Even though most sextech businesses are focused on enhancing sexual pleasure, there are also a surging number of startups that tackle everyday issues couples face.
Applications and Technological Solutions
These businesses aim to offer answers to common questions that their target market has for them.
According to Keywords Everywhere, these are some common related Google search volumes:
- “Women climax signs”: over 60.5k searches a month
- “sex after pregnancy”: 52k searches a month
- “Why it hurts when I have sex?”: 18.1k searches
- “Sharp pain during sex”: 12.1 searches
- “Differences between coming and climax”: 9.9k searches
- “Exercises for premature ejaculations”: 8.1k searches
- “Why can’t I orgasm”: 6.6k searches
- “Why am I dry down there?” 5.4k searches
In most cases, there are solutions available, but the stigma around asking for any sexual support means that most people do not seek treatment or advice (8).
Sextech has the potential to change the nascent space and people’s sexual health.
One notorious example is Lover, which offers guidance and advice for sexual problems and techniques. The app secured 5 million USD in seed last year (9).
Another example is Stamena, a Kegel exercise application for men. There are estimations that it makes more than 100k USD in revenue.
Businesses create an app that can offer support, product suggestions for sexual health concerns, exercises, and more. You can also niche down and concentrate on people with disabilities, postpartum women, or those on specific medication, physical conditions, etc.
The transgender population is particularly underserved in the healthcare segment, and numbers 487k+ in India (10) and personalized tech solutions would be of great value.
There are also forecasts that menopausal women would reach over 1 billion by 2025 (11). In addition, they are a tech-savvy segment and carry significant spending power. (Read more about The She Economy here.)
Supplements and Vitamins
Dietary supplements for sexual wellness are another high-growth area. Subscription services with tailored D2C options and modern branding are already taking off.
Businesses can offer services and products focused on sexual health and optimize their offerings as they navigate big transitions and live events such as young adults, those looking to conceive, etc.
According to Keywords Everywhere, Google searches for “vitamin to increase female libido” is already volume 12.1k searches a month. Other popular search terms include:
- “Foods to cure premature ejaculations”: 12.1k searches a month
- “menopause supplements”: 12.1k searches
- “supplements for stamina in bed”: 4.4k searches
- “vitamins for erectile strength”: 4.4k searches
- “sex supplements”: 3.6k searches
- “supplements for sex drive”: 2.9k searches
Male Sexual Wellness
A rising body of research highlights that men are significantly less likely to see advice for health-related problems compared to women (12). It is especially true for mental and sexual health.
The connection between sexual and mental health is well-researched, and the effect of anxiety and depression on sexual function, particularly for men, can be critical.
Today, researchers are even speculating that the drop in sexual activity among the younger population (13) may even be associated with increased rates of depression and anxiety. Moreover, to complicate matters further, male mental health is still a severely underserved market.
DudeBuddha is a volunteer-based online men community for them to anonymously share thoughts on topics that include relationships, sex, and intimacy.
According to Tuan Nguyen, there is a huge demand for the platform. While the size of the community is limited, he can still monetize it.
Every month, experts answer questions the members of DudeBuddha put forward. The platform also sends out quarterly surveys on its more than 3k strong community. Within sexual wellness topics, most men want to talk about :
- Premature ejaculations – 83%
- satisfying your partner and guides on sexual positions – 80%
- Better communication with a partner – 65%
- Lack of sex – 64%
- Erectile dysfunction – 41%
- Addiction to porn – 34%
There is a towering opportunity for businesses to offer men a safe place to “emotionally let go of their shell and explore.”
There are also opportunities in cultural niches. For instance, even though DudeBuddha has a diverse panel of medical experts, its members, particularly those from conservative cultural backgrounds, often find their guidance completely irrelevant.
When a vibrating pink dildo, aka the Rabbit, was first featured on the first season of Sex and the City back in 1998, it was witnessed as an act of sexual liberation and surged the female sex toy by over 700% (14).
However, even after over two decades, male sex toys are still in deep stigma and seen as a perverted last resort (15).
Businesses should focus on leveraging the power of influencers and celebrities to help men take control of their sexual health. Notably, it has played a key role in the surge of female-centered sextech (16).
There are also believes that women may be the key to drive uptake of sex toys, especially for heterosexual men, buying toys for a partner to use alone or together to address the stigma.
Businesses should keep it in mind and target female consumers looking for gifts or ways to encourage their partners for further sexual exploration.
It can also be a key for businesses to find a way to make consumers feel comfortable about their products. But, of course, the best way to make people comfortable about the issue is to own it.
Businesses in the male sexual wellness space can also follow it. A strong brand and personality behind male toys, health solutions, and hygiene products can go a long way in driving uptake.
Sex education is another area that has growing requirements and untapped niches.
Sex education around the globe is terrible. And it opens up opportunities to help parents educate themselves and their teens before social media and the internet magnify common misconceptions.
Parents and Teenagers
Notably, the present sex education options focus on heteronormative mechanics and anatomy and leave a lot to be desired (17).
Inclusive apps and online programs that include the vulnerability and intimacy of sex, arousal, communication, consent, kindness, etc., will be in high demand.
According to Keywords Everywhere, “sex position education,” Google searches are already at 2.4k searches a month.
Businesses can offer specialized options like options for those with disabilities, who are seriously ignored by the sexual wellness industry (18).
Adult pleasure education is also set to surge with a rise in interest in things like semen retention, shamanic sex, and tantric sex (19).
The r/BDSM subreddit has about 500k subscribers (20). And according to the DudeBuddha survey, more than 75% of men want to know how to inspire their partners to have “more adventurous sex,” indicating a high demand.
App-based guides and advice to different-sex and intimacy courses and sexual practices will be a hit in the market.
Masturbation and pleasure coaches are already a thing. Sex therapist, and host of the popular podcast Sex with Emily, Dr. Emily Morse, has recently released an online sex and communication master class for 15 USD a month. According to estimates, Morse has over 1.5 million USD net worth.
The market may go the same as life and personal coaching, which has a combined value of over 11 billion USD in the United States alone (21).
Even though sextech is mainly focused on deepening the relationship between your body and yourself or your partner’s body, there is also a side looking to replace human interaction completely. For example, think about robotic spouses and even virtual boyfriends (22).
This space is nowhere more evolved than Japan, where researchers have expressed their concerns about a sex recession for years.
Several experts argue that virtual humans will dramatically improve the life quality of sexual minorities. Others are concerned over the creation of unrealistic human relationship expectations and already dropping birth rates.
It is not only in Japan that sex rates are declining and human replacements are surging. Toronto, Canada, already had a fully operational sex doll brothel in 2018 (23). Even in the United States, young men have less sex; about 33% of men aged 18 to 24 have reported no sexual activity within the past year (24).
While highly controversial, augmented and virtual reality experiences, complete with holograms and scents, are likely to be the next frontier for sex workers and couples.
Businesses can offer services, for example, to OnlyFan creators or long-distance couples that will build tailored XR, extended-reality experiences for their partners or fans. They can even incorporate toys modeled on body parts.
However, the bigger question is, would this ever overshadow human sexual interaction? Well, according to Cindy Gallop, an industry veteran (25), the future of intimacy is not solely virtual, and that the pandemic and the surge of the sexual wellness industry as a whole has indicated only how much we crave human connection and physical touch.