2023: Innovating Sustainable Infrastructure for Sex Tech
New solutions and opportunities arise from hurdles to allow for industry expansion
As part of our ongoing Future of Sex Expert series, Ph.D. candidate and sex researcher at Binghamton University, Laura Johnsen, shares her predictions for the industry in 2023.
Marketing and merchandising
2023 is going to be the year of de-stigmatization. Now, more than ever, sex tech companies are breaking into the mainstream, creating solutions to circumvent censorship, and establishing new opportunities for networking and engagement.
Companies such as Dame and Maude have already entered the mainstream wellness market by having their products available at luxury stores like Sephora and Neiman Marcus. I predict that this trend will continue to grow in general merchandise retailers. Target has already jumped on board with selling sex toys like vibrators and strokers, and I think similar companies will do the same.
New financial frameworks
The sex industry (from education to sex work) does not have the same access to business and marketing tools as other industries. Many platforms have specific clauses in their terms and conditions that prohibit sexual content, making it more difficult for our industry to use these platforms to reach their target audiences.
However, companies like TickleLife, Pleazeme, Lips Social, and more are creating platforms that are specifically designed for the sex industry. TickleLife, for example, is creating the first tech stack for the sexual well-being industry and recently launched its “censorship-free” newsletter service and a payment platform called TickleCharge.
Relatedly, funding opportunities have been another hurdle that the sex tech industry has faced. Labeled as a “vice” industry, sex tech is often prevented from accessing venture capital funds, grants, and other funding opportunities. However, industry leaders like Bryony Cole and Cindy Gallop have called for investors to pay attention to sex tech. Gallup founded All the Sky Holdings, the world’s first sex tech fund. Cole has partnered with Jock Fairweather of Vest to create the Future of Sex investment Community.
All of these trends allow for an expansion of the industry. I predict we’ll see more companies that are facilitating new ways of expressing gender identity, prioritizing products for disability and accessibility, supporting marginalized communities, and creating high standards for safe and sustainable product materials. Because sex tech is innovating business and investment opportunities, there will be more ways to find funding and new ways of providing value for their consumers.
Image Sources: Unsplash