Launching a Profitable Business: The Market of Adult Pleasure Products

The progressive shift in societal perceptions towards sexuality has drastically diluted the stigma attached to adult-oriented pleasure items, enabling their seamless integration into conventional markets. This transformation has turned the business of vending adult pleasure commodities into a profitable enterprise. The worldwide marketplace for these goods is projected to experience a nine percent surge from 2019 to 2026, escalating from an estimate of 28 million dollars to an impressive 52 million dollars. If the flourishing market or other elements spark your curiosity in initiating a venture in this domain, the subsequent data delivers a comprehensive synopsis of strategies for marketing these distinctive commodities.

Adult Pleasure Products: A Resilient Market

Interestingly, the market for adult pleasure products demonstrates resilience under various economic circumstances. More disposable income often translates into increased spending on these items. Conversely, during financial hardship, individuals often indulge in the comfort of their homes with their purchased products. Although monetization in certain facets of the adult industry, such as adult films, has experienced a decline, businesses selling adult pleasure products continue to witness steady growth. This trend can be attributed to increased commercialization, changing societal perceptions, and the convenience of making purchases both online and in physical stores.

Upon investigating the statistics across various US states, it is observed that Vermont stands at the forefront in per capita online transactions for adult pleasure commodities, exceeding the national average by a remarkable 77.3 percent. Intriguingly, the preferences for these products display substantial geographical disparities. As an illustration, the American market predominantly gravitates towards dildos, whereas vibrators seize the lion's share in the UK, Germany, and Australia. The uniqueness of the US market is further highlighted by its partiality for penis sleeves and strap-ons.

When compared to other adult items, toys and novelty items accounted for at least 36 percent of purchases. These categories are only slightly surpassed by lingerie at 37 percent, and vastly outperform essentials such as lubricants and condoms, which constitute 10 percent. Niche-oriented products are gaining popularity, as are products specifically designed for non-cisgender and non-binary individuals. This trend reflects the growing societal acceptance of different gender identities and lifestyles, which is now extending to bedroom preferences as well.

As the sector continues to expand, customer expectations are similarly evolving, mirroring those seen in other industries: competitive pricing, enhanced quality, and greater convenience.

Marketing Adult Pleasure Products Online

Those wondering whether to establish a physical retail outlet should note that such a step is not necessary. Starting an online store to sell adult pleasure products can significantly decrease initial start-up costs by eliminating commercial rental expenses. Additionally, online platforms cater to customers who might be too self-conscious to shop for these products in person.

Operating online also bypasses potential issues that might render a physical storefront inaccessible, such as inclement weather, local events, or health crises. For instance, Adam and Eve, a well-established retailer of adult pleasure products, reported a 30 percent surge in online sales during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in March and April 2020.

The Legality of Online Sales of Adult Pleasure Products

Generally, it is legal to sell adult pleasure products online.

A succession of Supreme Court verdicts during the 1960s essentially rendered the operation of adult stores lawful. Although the federal government is devoid of jurisdiction to administer regulations pertaining to the commercialization of adult pleasure commodities, state and local administrations possess the power to establish guidelines and even impose absolute prohibitions on the trade of these goods. For instance, Alabama enacted the Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act in 1998, leading to the criminalization of the adult pleasure products' sales. Notwithstanding these constraints, such products often penetrate the state's borders clandestinely, masquerading as novelty or educational materials. Consequently, it becomes paramount to acquaint oneself with the legislation governing the territories where your business functions.

The following are some key elements of selling adult pleasure products that must comply with legal regulations.

Product Packaging

The packaging of an adult pleasure product involves several elements including product visibility, associated imagery, and descriptive wording. Regulations regarding public display of these products may exist even in states with no laws against their sale. Therefore, proper packaging is crucial to comply with such regulations.

Online sales of adult pleasure products typically necessitate discreet and inconspicuous shipping packaging to preserve customer privacy. Failing to do so may deter repeat customers.


Certain states prohibit the advertising of adult pleasure products via email or internet media. Familiarizing yourself with state and local regulations applicable to your business is advised. These regulations might limit factors such as the recipient's age, opt-out options, headers, and images used.

Visual Content

Should you intend to use images or videos for marketing purposes, it is crucial to acquaint yourself with relevant laws. To use stock images, you must obtain proper authorization. For images or videos produced by your business, it might be beneficial to follow the same guidelines applicable to adult industries such as adult films or phone services. These guidelines require verification of the age of anyone you employ in the adult industry, necessitating proper record-keeping and storage for potential future audits.

Product Naming

Product names could potentially influence its legality. For instance, some vendors designate vibrators as "massagers" to circumvent local bans. Consulting a legal expert is advisable if you plan to employ such tactics. Moreover, clear product descriptions are essential to ensure customer satisfaction. Misleading product names or descriptions, even if they are to comply with legal restrictions, might not sit well with customers.

Design and Materials

Adult pleasure products must conform to regulatory standards in terms of design and material composition. Given that these products are designed for close contact with or penetration of the body, adherence to safety standards is of utmost importance. Non-compliance can potentially expose customers to hazardous materials or cause harm.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently introduced safety standards for adult pleasure products. ISO 3533 sets the standards for "products in direct contact with the genitalia, the anus, or both." This represents a significant shift, as these products were largely unregulated previously. This transition toward regulation underscores the growing popularity, expanding market, and fading stigma of adult pleasure products.

This succinct summary concerning the legal aspects surrounding product packaging, promotional activities, visual content, product nomenclature, and the design and materials used, serves purely as a source of informational insight. If your interest lies in comprehending how to trade adult pleasure commodities in alignment with legal stipulations, it is highly advised to consult a seasoned legal professional for guidance.

How to Start a Sex Toy Business

Following the widespread popularity of the Fifty Shades trilogy, the mention of sex toys in the books contributed to a staggering 400 percent increase in sales. Subsequently, over the next decade, such products gained considerable traction, with recent surveys indicating that 65 percent of female consumers now own a sex toy. The booming trend appears to have a promising future, bolstered by the escalating interest in sexual wellness and the proliferation of sextech startups.

Should these dynamics or any other considerations prompt you to contemplate starting your own sex toy enterprise, an essential guide is provided herein, elucidating the fundamental factors crucial for achieving success. To gain a comprehensive understanding of business initiation, our detailed guide serves as a valuable resource.

Establishing a Unique Brand

Developing a brand identity for an adult toy business does not follow a universal formula. The market caters to diverse customer needs, including products designed for shared enjoyment or individual pleasure. Even within the subset of individual users, various segments exist, ranging from individuals seeking pure pleasure, those exploring their boundaries, to those recovering from traumatic experiences. Hence, your branding strategy may be tailored to target an array of potential customer profiles.

The ongoing dialogues around sexuality predominantly revolve around sexual wellness and self-care, while feminist perspectives advocate for sexual equality. Terms such as "orgasm gap" have been coined to encapsulate the imbalance in orgasmic experiences across genders. Consideration of these trends could inform your business branding approach. However, the evolving generational perspectives on sexuality imply the continual transformation of branding options. The advent of sextech startups could potentially shift dialogues towards progressive, technologically adept pleasure solutions.

Categories of Sex Toys for Online Sale

A variety of sex toys suitable for online sales typically fall within two broad categories:

  1. Stimulation of Pleasure Points – This category encompasses vibrators, pulsators, dildos, butt plugs, anal beads, penis rings, diverse massagers, and other products designed for penetration and/or genital stimulation.
  2. Enhancement of Experience – This category comprises costumes, clamps, gags, handcuffs, paddles, ticklers, among other products not directly involved in bodily stimulation.

Besides, an extensive range of accessories can be offered in conjunction with sex toys, including lubricants, massage oils, condoms, and toy cleaners.

Approaches to Product Sourcing

Modern businesses engaged in selling goods to customers have a plethora of product sourcing options, ranging from manufacturing and outsourced manufacturing to dropshipping and resale. The subsequent sections delve into the advantages and drawbacks of these alternatives specifically within the sex toy market context.


Present-day manufacturing can either be undertaken in-house or outsourced.

In-house manufacturing involves you or your employees fabricating the products within a designated facility. The advent of 3D printing in recent years has rendered this approach increasingly viable for sex toy manufacturing. While this method guarantees maximum quality control, it demands significant time and effort.

On the contrary, outsourced manufacturing involves collaboration with external manufacturers tasked with materializing your creation. A potential downside to this method is the reduced quality control as compared to in-house manufacturing. Nonetheless, it is vital to ascertain that your manufacturer adheres to safety standards and regulations.

Regardless of the chosen manufacturing method, the unique products thus created, unavailable with any other vendor, provide a competitive edge. Additionally, creating and manufacturing your own sex toys offers an opportunity to reinforce your brand through design. However, this sourcing option necessitates considerable investment and storage requirements on top of the manufacturing demands.


Dropshipping is a business model that absolves you of the responsibility of maintaining an inventory, with your supplier shipping the product directly to the consumer. The model presents an attractive proposition for those contemplating online sales of unique sex toys owing to its low startup costs. Furthermore, you are spared from investing time or resources in manufacturing, packaging, or shipping the product. Nevertheless, dropshipping entails limited quality control compared to manufacturing, as the supplier manages the product throughout the customer transaction. Banks often deem dropshipping businesses as high-risk, potentially resulting in increased fees and/or challenges in obtaining a merchant account.


Reselling involves sourcing and selling pre-existing products rather than creating your own. This method allows you to buy wholesale sex toys, subsequently selling them to your customers. Alternatively, you can leverage a manufacturer's white label or private label.

Reselling represents the most hands-off approach to product sourcing, eliminating the need to create products. However, the major drawback is the lack of uniqueness in the market offering, with customers able to procure the same goods from other vendors.

Website Development for Your Adult Sex Toy Business

Nowadays, it is feasible to construct a website and manage online sex toy sales from the comfort of your home. However, prior to website launch, several real-world tasks must be undertaken, including registering your business with the appropriate federal, state, and local entities, and signing up for state taxes. Additionally, you will need to complete a series of applications for an EIN, business license, and requisite permits.

As part of the website launch, the initial step involves registering a domain name, preferably concurrent with some of the aforementioned tasks to ensure consistency between your domain name and official business name.

Upon securing a domain name, you proceed to the website design phase. The design should be strategically crafted to optimize conversion rates, ultimately driving sales. For those lacking web design expertise, this task can be outsourced.

In order to facilitate online transactions, an adult merchant account is a requisite.

How to Market Your Sex Toy Business

Navigating the marketing landscape for sex toys can be challenging, given the unique sensitivities and regulations of the industry. This article delineates the various marketing avenues available for businesses in the adult toy market, assessing their respective advantages and limitations.

Social Media

For many modern enterprises, social media represents a crucial channel for marketing and community building. It is vital, however, to abide by each platform's policies, as failure to comply can result in post removal, account suspension, or even a ban. While social media platforms offer significant opportunities for community cultivation, the acquisition of followers' email addresses ensures a means of communication beyond these platforms, safeguarding against potential deplatforming.

Some adult businesses employ creative strategies to navigate around social media restrictions, such as sharing links to interviews, articles, or podcasts that could otherwise breach platform guidelines.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing, a major component of contemporary social media strategy, involves forming agreements with influencers who promote your products to their followers in return for financial compensation. The specifics of these agreements can depend on a range of factors, including follower count, post longevity, and frequency.

Due to the highly targeted nature of this marketing approach, it is crucial to carefully evaluate potential influencers. A tarnished reputation, past or future, can have adverse effects on your brand image.

Email Marketing

woman's hand touching papaya - sex toy business
 In contrast to social media platforms, email marketing offers greater flexibility, privacy, and directness. However, to maintain customer goodwill, it is prudent to refrain from inundating recipients' inboxes. Instead, use this platform to inform customers about company updates, new product releases, sales, or exclusive subscriber discounts.

Another strategy involves issuing newsletters, focusing on topics such as sex education, sex toy advice, or wellness guides to establish brand identity, promote products, and foster community engagement.


Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, wherein you only pay for clicked advertisements, is another popular promotional method, typically implemented on search engines like Google or Bing.

As with social media platforms, search engines have their own content policies. However, they are generally more accommodating towards adult toys. Always ensure to thoroughly review the policies of the search engine you intend to use. For instance, Bing explicitly prohibits content related to violent or torture-themed products, potentially excluding certain BDSM toys.

For detailed guidance on leveraging PPC for marketing, refer to our comprehensive guide.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing presents an attractive opportunity for promotion and brand development. It involves partnering with an influencer, organization, or business who advertises your product with a trackable link. Successful sales resulting directly from the affiliate's promotion earn them a predetermined commission.

This marketing approach can also enhance your brand's image through its association with other reputable entities.


Search engine optimization (SEO) involves improving your website's organic rankings and click-through rates to secure a top position in search engine results. In the context of sex toys, where generic keywords are dominated by established brands, it may be beneficial to focus on brand and product-specific keywords to boost your search engine rankings.


With 92 percent of consumers trusting recommendations from friends and family over traditional advertising, referral marketing remains an incredibly effective strategy.

Referral marketing leverages the power of positive customer experiences, encouraging customers to recommend your business to their social network. Incentives such as discounts or free merchandise can be offered to motivate customers to refer others to your sex toy business.

Media Purchases on Adult Forums

Media buying, the process of purchasing advertising space from media outlets, can be an effective strategy for reaching your target audience. While high-profile ad spots, like Super Bowl commercials, are beyond the reach of most businesses, more modest, targeted ad buys, particularly on adult forums, can deliver excellent results.

Maintaining Customer Privacy and Safety

hand holding cucumber - sell adult toy
 Many customers prefer online purchases of sex toys due to the enhanced privacy it provides. As such, most online retailers opt for discreet packaging and anonymous billing.

Privacy considerations should extend to the handling of customer data. Merchants should create clear privacy policies outlining any data sharing with third parties and should comply with customer requests for data deletion. With the sensitive nature of adult products, it's paramount to ensure a secure shopping experience for all customers.

Product safety is another significant concern that should be addressed during the manufacturing process, with adherence to safety regulations being crucial. Packaging should include clear instructions for safe usage. Additionally, websites can feature disclaimers, FAQs, and instructional videos to help customers use your products safely and effectively.

Securing a High-Risk Adult Merchant Account

Given the adult industry's higher susceptibility to fraud and chargebacks, it is often deemed high-risk by banks and payment processing companies. This classification can make procuring merchant services challenging, with businesses often facing high fees or outright denial of service. However, to process credit card and online transactions, it's necessary to secure a payment processor that accommodates the sale of adult products and services.


  1. The New York Times: Sellers of Sex Toys Capitalized on All That Alone Time
  2. Statista: Size of the sex toy market worldwide from 2019 to 2026
  3. Thrive Global: How Millennials are Becoming Millionaires by Starting a Sex Toy Business
  4. ISO: ISO 3533:2021
  5. Daily Mail: Fifty Shades effect explodes as sales of sex toys used in EL James' racy trilogy soar by 400%
  6. Nielsen: Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages
  7. The Atlantic: The Hidden Economics of Porn
  8. Jon Millward: What One Million Sex Toy Sales Reveal About Our Erotic Tastes, Kinks, and Desires