girl holding an adult toy

Marketing Adult Toys to an International Audience

This is why marketing adult toys in an ecommerce space can be so beneficial for businesses.

One of the best things about marketing adult toys in an eCommerce space is that it allows you to expand your business beyond local and regional borders. Why stop at being the top adult toy seller in your own country when you can make your brand a global sensation in the adult product space? 

Many of the same issues arise when you’re selling or marketing adult sex toys online to an international audience as you’ll face selling these products online in the US. For one thing, you need to be just as careful when you’re branding via social media.

But, global eCommerce brings with it unique challenges in the adult toy industry that sellers need to consider. Other countries have stricter regulations surrounding data collection and governance. If you’re going to market anywhere in Europe, for example, you must add a GDPR privacy notice to your website or face heavy fines.

Issues Associated With International Sex Toy Sales

One of the first hurdles you will face in some jurisdictions while scaling and building your brand in the adult product space is legality. Some countries ban sex toys when you try to bring them through customs, while others have erected barriers to what can be sold in brick-and-mortar shops.

A prime example of this is India. While the country has no specific legislation preventing the sale of adult toys, various penal codes in some districts have been responsible for denying patents and placing consenting adult citizens in legal jeopardy for what they plan to do in private. 

On the flip side of these legal roadblocks is the fact that the sex toy market in the Land of Kamasutra is huge. According to data uncovered by TechSciResearch, the adult toy market in India is estimated at $91.34 million USD and is expected to grow by more than 15% by 2026. 

That market share is equally divided between men and women looking specifically for vibrators (21.21%), with another surge fueled by consumers looking for products targeted toward enhancing LBGTQ+ lifestyles. Interest is also equally divided by region, with each point on the compass accounting for approximately 25% of the national sex toy market. 

One way around legal issues is to use neutral branding when choosing a DNS, company name, and logo. Ship all products in plain packaging, and make sure that any customer data collected is secure and used only for demographic and marketing purposes. 

The availability of some social media and payment portals is another issue you might encounter in international markets. I found this out the hard way when I was living and working in Turkey for 18 months. Both YouTube and PayPal were geo-blocked for the entire time I resided in the country, and Facebook was blocked/unblocked intermittently during my stay. I could still collect payments from US-based clients via PayPal, but I couldn’t access the website to check my balance or transfer funds without a VPN. There is sometimes little warning about when or where this may happen. 

Geo-blocking may limit your ability to market or collect payments in countries where the platforms you need are unavailable. Make sure you research this in advance and find alternatives if you want to do business with people living in countries that institute internet bans on a large scale. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of countries that ban PayPal, and restrictions could ease or become activated at any given time. I notice that Turkey is no longer on the list, for example. 

Market Outlook and Statistics for the Adult Product Sales

Overall, the global market for sex toys and other adult products is estimated at around $27.17 billion USD. Annual growth is forecast for more than 8% per year through 2030. Any way you analyse or niche it, those numbers demonstrate huge potential earnings for international adult product sales. 

As of 2021, the largest share of that market went to online retailers. They represent more than 63% of all adult toy sales. This market can be further broken down into speciality shops, manufacturers, and eCommerce stores. 

Although the largest overall share of the adult toy market is in North America, many of the most trusted brands are manufactured and sold in European countries. More sex-positive attitudes and a willingness to try new things are driving markets in Asia and the South Pacific as well. 

I mentioned India earlier, and a 2019 report released by Reckitt Benckiser shows that 74% of people in that country are interested in learning more about products that enhance sexual pleasure and overall well-being. This same report discloses that 35% of online orders for sex toys in India originate from areas outside of major cities.

Brands that manufacture sex products are making it easier to sell them by removing pornographic imagery and descriptions from their product packaging. If you’re not planning to design and produce your own line of toys, look to stock your virtual shelves with trusted brands like:

  • PinkCherry
  • We-Vibe
  • Tenga Co., Ltd.
  • LELO
  • Doc Johnson Enterprises
  • Fun Factory
  • Lovehoney Group Ltd

Top sellers include the always popular dildos and vibrators, but there is an increasing demand for products that are explicitly for LGB + whoever, individuals and kink enthusiasts. 

Now that you’ve got some more information about where and what to sell, here are some tips for promoting your brand on a world stage. 

Creative Ways to Claim Your Share of the International Adult Toy Market

One of the barriers to marketing adult products on social media is a focus by these platforms on providing content that’s appropriate for all ages and audiences. 

Users under the age of 18 are supposed to be prohibited from using many social media sites, but we know how well such bans work. Companies would rather ban adult products than take a chance that someone who’s underage might see sexually explicit content. 

In addition to focusing on creating relationships or self-care-oriented content and online communities, you can creatively market your brand on social media and direct users to your subscriber list and website for further details and purchases. 

Focus on Email Marketing Outreach

No matter your industry or customer base, email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach your audience on a personal level. You can begin building an email subscriber base through your online communities, referrals, previous sales, and social media marketing. 

Sweeten the pot and encourage customer loyalty through exclusive offers, gifts, and referral programs. High-end clients appreciate exclusivity and special treatment. Provide them with early access to new products and other incentives that encourage repeat business. 

Create a regular newsletter that talks about industry trends, up-and-coming manufacturers, and information about sexual enjoyment, relationships, and health topics. We-Vibe holds an annual Valentine’s Day contest for customers where couples are encouraged to describe how they met. 

Optimize Your Website

In addition to using a domain and company name that can slide by social media gatekeepers, make your website easier to find by optimizing for international SEO. There are few limits to how you can market your website for search engines, and this is one of the first places people turn to when they want to find a trustworthy supplier for adult toys. Paid ads on Google will put your brand at the top of the page. 

Make the buying process as easy as possible by enabling one-click checkout. Add trust badges to advertise secure payment processing, and provide a variety of payment methods whenever possible, which provides peace of mind and keeps your buyer shopping on your website.

Clearly define your customer service and return policies, reassure customers about the discretion of your packaging and offer discounts on shipping. Free shipping is even better if you can afford to offer it. Otherwise, offer free shipping for orders over a set dollar amount. Make sure that amounts, times, and shipping rates are available in the local currency and format of your customers. 

Add Value to the Customer Experience

In addition to making your website easy to locate via SEO and streamlining the buying process, add value to the experience in other ways. For example, many purchases are prematurely cancelled due to uncertainty or embarrassment. People want to try new products, but they’re reluctant to ask questions or buy something they’re unsure about. 

How do you clean and care for your toys? Are they water-resistant? What kind of lube works best with them? 

You can add an FAQ for new or unusual products, include customer testimonials, or create how-to videos. Don’t worry, the videos needn’t be explicit to be useful. Just between you and me, my decision to purchase an app-enabled, interactive remote couples toy was decided after watching a manufacturer’s video about how to sync and program it. 

Niche Down Your Target Market

The fastest growing sex toy retailers are those who find a niche and target their efforts toward a narrowly defined audience segment. It helps to align your product line and target market to your own experiences and values. 

For example, if you’re an older woman who wants to empower others in your demographic, that’s an audience you can serve well. Someone who is passionate about furries or the BDSM lifestyle would be the best person to guide others who are interested in products in those niches. 

As brand recognition grows, you can expand your product lines and customer base. Just make sure that you remain true to your original mission, brand image, and customer service model. Any changes should enhance the buyer’s journey. 

Final Thoughts

Selling adult toys online is a growing and lucrative opportunity. Whether you want to restrict your business to your home country or branch out to other locations, the keys to success lie in knowing what challenges you may face and refining your approach. 

The above tips are by no means exhaustive. But, following some of our proven marketing strategies will provide you with a firm foundation for success. 

You can increase your odds of building a profitable brand by partnering with Level 343. We’ll tackle all of your content marketing and branding duties so that you can focus on building customer relationships. 

Get in touch with us to book a consultation with an international marketing specialist today.

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This is why marketing adult toys in an ecommerce space can be so beneficial for businesses.

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