SexTech Predictions for 2021 – What the Experts Say

Throughout the past year, technology has helped bring those physically distanced virtually together, in more ways than one…

From promoting sexual wellness to preparing for a summer of lust, TechRound explores industry expert predictions for SexTech in 2021.

 

Our Panel of Experts:

 

  • Sam Freedman – Co-Founder of Curate Beauty
  • Sachin Raoul – Co-Founder of Sex Therapy App Blueheart
  • Gary Ayckbourn – Founder and CEO of The Concept to Consumer Collective
  • Helena Jevons -Innovation Consultant and Head of Sales and Marketing at Sussex Innovation
  • Andrea Oliver – CEO and Co-Founder of Emjoy
  • Charlotte Prichard – Marketing and Brand Executive at HANX
  • Lora DiCarlo – Founder and CEO of Lora DiCarlo
  • Suzanne Sinatra – CEO & Founder of Private Packs
  • Phil Steinweber – Co-Founder & CEO of Beducated

 

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Sam Freedman, Co-Founder of Curate Beauty

 

Sam-Freedman

 

“The sexual wellness category has been a really interesting one to watch, even more so since the pandemic broke out.”

“At Curate Beauty, the wholesale marketplace I started in 2020 for independent beauty and wellness brands, we have seen this category grow exponentially over the last 12 months. But it isn’t just us that have reported this surge, The Global Wellness Summit shared an increase in global sales of 300-400% in consumer purchases of self-love tools since lockdown began.”

“With sex toys and lubricants showing incredible rebrands (think Smile Makes, Lelo and Uberlube) repositioning their stance in the market as lifestyle must-have’s. We’ve also seen a new breed of sexual wellness retailers (Iloh.co.uk and Selfandmore.co.uk) specialising in bringing confidence to women, leading their communities to a shame-free stance on female pleasure.”

“The taboo of talking about this subject is starting to shed, with celebrities and influences collaborating with brands (Lily Allen’s partnership with German-owned brand Womanizer) confidently taking the stand in sex positivity, to unveil sought after tools.”

“I also believe we’ll see more collaborations of CBD within the sexual wellness category, an ingredient that has catapulted the beauty industry and that we’ve already seen creep into the feminine hygiene market in a big way.”

“Over the next coming months there is no doubt that innovations and the next-generation of sex toys will only continue to grow. This is definitely a category not to forgo, as the industry is forecasted to reach a global growth of $40.4 million by 2025 according to MarketDataForcast.” 

 

Sachin Raoul, Co-Founder of Sex Therapy App Blueheart

 

Sachin-Raoul

 

“As people can’t meet physically face to face, both couples and singles will cast their eyes to digital platforms for virtual sex. Here, for things like video sex, privacy is going to be the number 1 concern, for obvious reasons. I’d expect that a video platform whose core message is ‘privacy & security’ (e.g. the Signal/Telegram of video chat) to take a dominant position in the market as the go-to platform for secure video sex.”

 

“Sadly, I’d expect rules & regulations around the consumption of sexual material online to become even more ring-fenced. As children’s social time is slashed, they’ll be even larger growth in under-18 consumption of porn. Alongside that will turbocharge campaigns for harsher restrictions on access to sexual material – which will hide itself under the banner of protecting children. This will make access to sexual products more challenging.”

 

“With a huge transition to telemedicine, more and more people will get comfortable accessing help digitally for personal and medical help. This includes help with sexual problems, whereby we’ll see a big explosion in digital platforms looking to help relationships under stress due to the pandemic.”

 

 

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Gary Ayckbourn, Founder and CEO of The Concept to Consumer Collective

 

Gary-Ayckbourn

 

“Having worked in the sex technology and sexual wellness sphere for over 20 years, I’ve been involved in developing the tech for sex inspired products. It’s been exciting seeing the further growth in this market and the emergence of new technologies.”

“I believe we will continue to see the development and advancement of connectivity and app based products such as internet controlled toys. We will see further improvement in sex connected toys where products between couples connect with each other.”

“The increasing use of haptic sensors within products is another growth area in sex tech. This will give us physical insights and medical data that could become invaluable, as well as enhancing pleasure.”

“Data accessibility will be key as technology continues to allow us to gain more and more personal data through of use of smart tech, like, phone, watches, and medical apps and sex toys. This in turn will further the development of products to assist with specific health issues.”

“Use of VR and AR technology will continue to be an increasing presence in pornography consumption. However, I feel the most effective use of this will be its utilisation for product presentation, training, education, and interactivity. This will lead to the use of it in store via interactive displays and well as online.”

“Finally, with the move towards environmental concerns and sustainability, the trend within sexual wellness products will be for greener materials, such as Ocean Plastics and also ‘circular’ manufactured products where all elements can be recycled.”

 

Helena Jevons, Innovation Consultant and Head of Sales and Marketing at Sussex Innovation

 

Helena-Jevons

 

“Just like baking and gardening supplies, vibrator components have been in short supply after a surge in interest during the past year of lockdowns. Sex toy sales are up between 50-80% globally, emphasising how the subject of sextech is becoming more normalised, shedding some of the societal taboo that it still had even a few years ago.”

“It’s been interesting observing this shift – as an Innovation Centre we’ve long been aware that the sextech industry is a major driver of technological innovation in all sorts of consumer products, but at the same time, many have remained uncomfortable talking about the bedroom in the boardroom.”

“As we shed some of our hang-ups around discussing sexual pleasure and health, we can expect to see more start-ups and more investment happening in the sector, which can only mean more rapid innovation. We feel that the time is right to be having a more healthy, open, sex-positive conversation, which is why we’ve recently published a white paper on the state of play within the industry, and where we believe it’s heading.”

“We predict that the biggest trends over the next few years will be the incorporation of better data, informatics and connectivity into products, resulting in smarter devices and toys that track the health and wellness outcomes of our sex lives. We can expect more versatility in what sextech products are able to do, catering to a more diverse range of customers and designed to support specific groups of people with medical conditions or sexual dysfunction.”

 

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Andrea Oliver, CEO and Co-Founder of Emjoy

 

Andrea-Oliver-Emjoy-sex-tech-founder

 

“As a direct result of the pandemic, this past year has seen both physical and mental self-care further cement itself into our everyday routines out of necessity. With this, we have also seen sexual wellbeing (a relatively new category within the sextech space) become increasingly mainstream. As we move into a post-pandemic world, many will be keen to resume the physical intimacy that they were forced to miss out on and this too will help further fuel its normalisation.”

“The future of sexual wellness is inextricably linked to technology, particularly Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. Both technologies are used to predict behaviour patterns, and not only those linked to pleasure and enjoyment but also in relation to sexual health. In the future, just as society is currently working to prioritise preventative health care among the population for illness through things like healthy eating and regular exercise, I believe we will increasingly begin to approach sexual health in a similar and multifaceted way, with the help of predictive technology.”

“The fact is, we are at a cultural tipping point in which we will soon begin to see sexual wellbeing become a vital cornerstone of the wider health and wellbeing space. The sextech industry is set to be valued at around $50 billion by 2025, and it is my hope that, as a result, it will begin to be viewed much in the same light as meditation or yoga apps are today – despite many initially approaching them with similar levels of uncertainty.”

“Interestingly, when those I talk to, from consumers to investors, have understood that sexual wellness is part of everybody’s mental and physical health, the response has always been very positive and supportive.”

 

Charlotte Prichard, Marketing and Brand Executive at HANX

 

Charlotte-Prichard

 

“As the strong vaccine rollout in the UK gives hope for a less locked down 2021, we predict a summer of love – or rather, lust.”

“There are already indications that we can expect a boom in STIs, with stats showing an 85% reduction in people using sexual health clinics in lockdown 1.0. With some semblance of social distancing still likely to be in place, we expect the tech-savvy to actively seek out convenient SexTech solutions for remote diagnosis and treatment prescriptions for STIs, plus contraception. This will continue via NHS services, which shifted online during lockdown and will most likely continue, or private personal healthcare solutions such as Babylon Health.”

“Lockdown has also afforded people the time to reexamine the long-lasting physical and mental effects of their hormonal contraception. Whilst condoms are leading the charge as the only form of contraception which prevent pregnancy and protect against STIs, we also predict a rise in the use of tech. The introduction of Zoe, the COVID symptoms monitoring app, has increased awareness of the abilities of tech and personal healthcare, so we may see an uplift in the use of birth control apps as a personalised solution.”

“Finally, solo sex is still on the menu. We’ve spent 12+ months living with social distancing – and shifting that mindset will understandably take time. With the nation finding plenty of time to explore self-pleasure, we saw lubricant sales rise sharply during lockdown 1.0, and we’ve heard from many of our own customers that they’ll be focused on the ultimate form of safe sex for the foreseeable. Good times are coming – they might just be a one-person situ for now.”

 

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Lora DiCarlo, Founder and CEO of Lora DiCarlo

 

Lora-DiCarlo

 

“I believe the future of sex technology is not only in the products we can offer, but also lies in the services, especially when brands are now using data collection to inform product design.”

“I’m looking forward to products that are aimed more specifically at the end user, including physiology and data-informed products. I’m excited to see brands focus their products on the wellness aspects of sex tech.”

“At Lora DiCarlo we are working to destigmatise this area and break down the taboos. We want to allow safe spaces where customers can get in the mood via femme-informed products, and love to hear what people want in the next great piece of sex tech.”

“We are very focused on wellness coaching and continuing to build in that growing area of the business. I’m excited about creating a truly holistic and experiential approach to sexual wellness that is integrated, comprehensive, and touches on every part of sexuality – not just the toy.”

“We’re also digging into education and telehealth with our Wellness Coaching program, which allows customers to have group or one-on-one sessions with a Coach who can answer questions about what product to get, or give tips and advice about any sex-related curiosities and hurdles. We are able to offer a diverse group of writers, educators and consultants to ensure we are meeting the needs of multiple audiences.”

“There is no doubt that as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. However, we are actively playing our part as we move forward. We announced Cara Delevigne as Co-Owner and Creative Advisor last year, which is one way Lora DiCarlo is looking to expand our reach and further encourage humans to embrace their sexuality with positivity and confidence. That push on positivity is also tied to our push for inclusivity, and we’re putting significant effort in uplifting marginalized voices in the space in 2021.”

“To further our focus on inclusivity, we’re expanding our product line to include sex tech that appeals to a wider and more diverse spectrum of sexual experience and pleasure profiles. As we invite more people into our world, we’re also looking at how we can improve sexual experiences from varying entry points.”

 

Suzanne Sinatra, CEO & Founder of Private Packs

 

Suzanne-Sinatra-Sex-Tech-Private-Packs-CEO

 

“My SexTech prediction is that new and existing startups will now start meeting people’s sexual needs with physical and intellectual disabilities, for it has long been overlooked.”

“Undoubtedly, people with disabilities have sexual desires even if their disability inhibits them from having intercourse or if they or their partner have questions about their physical health and safety.”

“We need to design products and create curriculums that address sexual pleasure while minimizing discomfort, contraception, fertility concerns due to medication, STI protection, and sex education for those with an intellectual or physical disability and their partners and families.”

“We also need to actively dispel the social myths and discrimination for disabled people around sex the same way we took on investors and service providers who have not provided us with capital and services because they still consider sextech taboo, a $30 billion industry.”

“On the flip side of that, we need to acknowledge and address the sexual abuse of people with physical and intellectual disabilities because they are at risk of being harmed, exploited, and disempowered.”

“The SexTech community promotes gender equality, sexual well-being and health, and the safety of those who identify as females and LGBTQ. We also need to do it for disabled people.”

 

Phil Steinweber, Co-Founder & CEO of Beducated

 

Phil-Steinweber-Beducated-Co-Founder

 

“From our perspective we believe that the whole area of sexuality, relationships, intimacy etc., is ready to become an accepted pillar of personal development. We believe it’s much more than just satisfaction – it’s a big contributor to wellbeing and happiness, and we’re seeing more and more companies communicating and praising it in that manner.”

“We’ve seen a shift in this area, moving away from being seen just in terms of achieving the best possible climax and towards being part of individual wellbeing in general. In that regard, we think that there will be more digital products coming up tackling that similar to our own services.”

“Beducated is a useful space to get supportive education around sex. We’re a guide to improving your sex life, providing training and education rather than just another piece of silicone for the night draw. This is what we see our customers get frustrated with, watching the sex toy industry release one gadget after another, whilst no one tackles where the real transformation is – training and education.”

“It’s a challenging time for relationships right now. People are spending a lot of time at home with their partner not having a separation between their work and personal lives, which is important to keep things refreshing and exciting.”

“I believe that most relationships will go back to a state wherever they were before the pandemic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that state is great, or has been great before. Studies show that the majority of the people that are not fully satisfied with their intimate life, and I think this will stay that way until people really commit to working on that field, and see it as a space for personal growth.”

 

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