The Lovehoney Sex Toy Census 2017
These days, sex toys are a pretty big deal - and we’re not just talking about the dimensions. Some estimates place the global market for adult pleasure products at a whopping $15 billion a year - over half that of the entire US publishing industry in 2015.
But have you ever wondered what could be the number one sex toy in bedrooms across the globe? Do Americans favor anal beads over jiggle balls? Do Brits prefer bullet vibrators to butt plugs? And how about the Aussies?
Fortunately, as the most popular sex toy retailer on the planet, Lovehoney has an up-close-and-personal inside view - as it were.
In 2016, we shipped over five million sex toys, seductive lingerie items, and bondage accessories to over a million people worldwide.
With a sex toy flying off the Lovehoney shelves every 16 seconds (the same time it takes for the population of the United States to grow by one person), we thought it was high time we took a long, hard look at our customers' buying habits to see what’s topping the sex toy charts, where they’re sold, and who’s buying them.
The result: The Sex Toy Census 2017, also known as the largest statistical summary of global sex toy and sexy lingerie purchases ever conducted.
UK - Lincoln, Legs, and West Country Humpkins
Last year, we dispatched enough products from our UK warehouse to supply one in twelve people with one item each.
In comparison, there's one cat in the UK for every 11 people, so our sex toys are nearly as popular as moggies - and at least our toys don't leave unwanted presents in your back garden.
The demand for sex toys is not spread evenly across the country - some parts of the UK are more pleasure-prone than others. So which cities are big into butt plugs and where do you need to go to find the most vibrating village?
Lovers in Lincoln are the biggest buyers of sex toys, buying an item for more than one in ten people in the area. They’re followed closely by Hampshire humpers in Rushmoor, with Stevenage sex hounds romping into third place.
But, even though it’s a city in the East Midlands that takes the sex toy crown, broadly speaking, people in the South West of England have the highest toy tallies.
These West Country courters just beat the South East for number of toys per capita, while third-place East Anglia claims an admirable 7.4 sex toys for every hundred people.
But, regardless of region, there’s a very even divide between the sexes, with an approximate 50-50 split between male and female British shoppers.
It seems there may also be something to the British stereotype of having something up the bottom, as anal toys accounted for more of the top 20 most commonly bought products than they did in Germany, the USA, or Australia.
On top of that, Brits buy a bigger variety of bondage equipment than their sexy shopping counterparts, with 20% of the most-shopped categories being from the BDSM section.
The British clearly love a bit of leg, too, as, compared to Australians, Americans, and Germans, they’re the most likely to shop for stockings. Babydolls and chemises are the second favorite, with the more restrictive shapes of basques, corsets, and bustiers coming in third.
USA - Make Mine A Whopper
When it comes to America, it seems that those in New England are most at ease with buying bedroom goodies.
Five of the six states in the region account for half the list of the most sex toy purchases per 10,000 people, with Vermont coming out on top. Coincidentally, our favorite position, too.
Interestingly, though, they’re not the states that have increased their sexy spending most in the past twelve months. That accolade goes instead to the folks in Hawaii, Nevada, and New Jersey.
But what’s interesting about American shopping habits, however, is that they’re far more likely to buy a dildo than consumers in the UK, Australia, or Germany. Whereas the other three nation’s top toys all vibrate, it’s the realistic dildo that leads the way in the USA.
How Good Vibrations topped the Billboard 100, we’re not really sure.
They’re also more likely to buy penis sleeves and extensions, indicating a desire for supersized schlongs, as well as being the only country to see strap-on dildos earn two places in the top 20. You go, girls.
When it comes to lingerie, however, it’s the guys that steam ahead, with Americans being almost three times as likely as Germans to purchase a male thong. The perfect way to show off that extended penis, we suppose.
Meanwhile, though stockings, babydolls, and basques are still the favorites, it’s crotchless pantyhose that are the fourth most popular kind of women’s lingerie.
Could this be because they’re easiest to wear over those strap-ons they’re so fond of?
Australia - Breaking Beds in Brisbane
Every dildo bought in 2016 by our Australian customers laid end-to-end would loop 11 times around the Sydney Opera House.
Sydney residents didn’t buy enough dildos per head to rank first for sex toy purchases in 2016 though. That accolade belongs to Brisbanians, who bought more than twice as many toys as Darwin and Hobart residents.
Australians living in state capitals buy six times more sex toys than people living in more rural areas, which is most likely due to them having a higher proportion of young people and people of working age than the national average.
There are probably other factors at play, too, such as internet connectivity levels, which tends to be higher in bigger cities than remote areas.
It also seems that things have to be squeaky-clean down under, with douches and enema kits being twice as popular in Australia as the next biggest purveyor of anal cleansing pumps, Germany.
This could have something to do with the fact that they’re also the only country that sees prostate massagers as one of the top 20 most-sold toys.
It seems Aussies love a little bit of roleplay more than most, too, as they’re three times as likely as an American shopper to add a saucy schoolgirl outfit to their basket.
With a huge chunk of those buying sexy school uniforms being engaged women, it could be that they’re a staple favorite of the hen party scene as well as being for bedroom wear.
Germany - All About Das Nippel
When it comes to our friends in Deutschland, it seems Germans are three times more likely to purchase nipple clamps than Brits, Australians, or Americans.
German customers are also the only nation of the four whose singletons are more likely to treat themselves to a nipple toy than those in relationships, and who buy enough penis pumps and enlargement systems to make it into their top 20 sex toy types.
But it seems that the nipple fascination doesn't stop there, with German customers being roughly twice as likely to check out with nipple tassels or pasties in their basket than Americans or Brits. They're also the most likely to add a thong or G-string to their order.
Side note: the total amount of thongs and G-strings that Lovehoney sold globally in 2016, if tied together, would stretch for 164km (or 102 miles). That's a knot of knickers that would circle the island of Manhattan three times.
France - Lingerie Pour Homme
Interestingly, unlike the other two European countries, French men buy more sex toys than the Gallic girls - and by quite a margin. Even most lingerie purchases made by people in relationships are placed by the men. A sign of that fabled French romance, perhaps?
Sex Toys - A Double Marathon of Dildos
So, what's the world's favorite sex toy?
It seems that most masturbatory shoppers prefer to keep things classic, with a classic dildo wanging its way to lucky customers an average of every 77 seconds.
In fact, laid end-to-end, every dildo we sold in 2016 would measure 82km (or 51 miles) - that's nearly triple the distance between Dover and Calais, or just under half the distance from Manhattan to Atlantic City, or 9 times the height of Mount Everest.
Cock rings and vibrators follow close behind, 'coming' in at a close second and third respectively. Actually, if we combined all the cock rings that we sold in 2016 into one massive ring, it would be a mammoth 62 metres wide - big enough for a Boeing 747-300 to fly through.
Cock rings are one of the most highly recommended sex toys for couples, because they help to restrict blood flow to the penis for harder erections, can delay ejaculation, and can offer a variety of vibrations or textures for both wearer and receiver to enjoy. Plus, they're incredibly easy to use.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, it's the vibrator category that sees the most action. In the UK, USA, Australia, and Germany, vibrating toys account for around half of the top 20 products sold in each country.
Non-vibrating butt plugs are a consistent seller worldwide, it seems, making the top ten in each region. But if we were to merge every single butt plug that left all of our international warehouses last year into one super-plug, it would be 8 metres tall - that's the length of a Routemaster Double Decker Bus - and 2 metres wide. Just big enough to plug Yellowstone Park's Old Faithful geyser.
When it comes to when we're shopping for our sex toys, it seems that Sundays really aren't the day of rest any more. Whether it's because it's the quietest point of the weekend, working hours are shorter, or because people are looking for something to help them get through the week ahead, it's Sundays that see the biggest surge in sex toy orders.
Apparently that doesn't always quench the sex toy thirst, though, as there's a similar peak on Monday evenings as well. Maybe they forgot the lube...
However, if you're a single man shopping for a male masturbation toy, then you're much more likely to be hanging around on the Lovehoney website on a Thursday than at any other point. A little something in time for the weekend, perhaps, sir?
Lube - We’re Having A Whale of A Time!
We’ve always said that lube makes everything better (with the possible exception of trying to grip onto monkey bars), and it seems sex toy customers agree with us.
On average, a bottle, sachet, or tub of sexual lubricant is sent to a customer every 48 seconds - also known as the time it took Amanda Nunes to knock out UFC champion, Ronda Rousey in 2016.
In fact, we sold so many litres of lube last year that we could have made a lifesize sculpture of a blue whale out of it. Well, we probably couldn’t physically, because it wouldn’t hold together.
But why do people love lubricant so much? Pretty much because there’s not really a single sex act that it doesn’t improve. From anal to oral, and hand jobs to solo play, a good-quality lubricant is the ultimate bedroom all-rounder.
Speaking of oral, it seems most of us favor something sweet in the sack, with the most popular lubricant flavour being classic strawberry. How very Wimbledon.
Sexy Lingerie - Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number
For many people, sexy lingerie is the gateway to the world of adult pleasure products, and with one underwear item being sold an average of every 26 seconds at Lovehoney, it’s one busy gateway.
Globally, it seems we can’t get enough of shorts and briefs, as these top the lingerie charts in popularity, followed by babydolls and chemises, and stockings coming in third.
But, aside from where our lingerie’s being purchased and which nation favors the skimpiest pants, it seems that customer age has a big impact on what sexy style they’re shopping for.
Apparently, the younger you are, the smaller your panties, as G-strings and thongs were most popular lingerie amongst the 18-24 year olds.
However, that doesn’t mean that an increase in age leads to a decrease in sex appeal: far from it, in fact.
With women in their forties favoring skintight bodystockings and naughty nurse outfits, and the over-fifties most commonly slipping into crotchless tights and see-through mini dresses, it could be said that we’re getting more adventurous as we get older.
It seems we’re also less likely to care about who knows what we’ve been ordering the older we get. In the UK, two-thirds of people who request that their private parcels not be left with a neighbour are under the age of 35.
And with that inspiring fact in mind, we put the cork in Hard Data’s Sex Toy Census 2017.
About Lovehoney: The Sexual Happiness People
Here at Lovehoney, our focus on exceptional customer service, product innovation, website usability and creative marketing keeps us at the forefront of developments in sexual wellbeing and ecommerce.
From humble beginnings in 2002, when stock was stored under co-founder Richard Longhurst's bed, the company now has seven couple-friendly websites serving customers in the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the EU. (And in fact most places in the world - we've shipped four orders to the Maldives so far in 2017).
Lovehoney also has fulfilment operations and customer care teams in three continents.
Lovehoney is a manufacturer of sex toys as well as a retailer. In addition to its market-leading range of own-brand products, Lovehoney creates and manufactures official pleasure products for the Fifty Shades of Grey, Tracey Cox, Motörhead and Mötley Crüe brands. We're also home to the world's largest database of customer sex toy reviews.
Lovehoney's hard work has been recognised over the years through numerous awards, including everything from internet retailing and customer service gongs to a 2016 Queen's Award for Enterprise: International Trade.
We are the sexual happiness people, and are proud to make a fun and fulfilling sex life available to everyone.