Although certain types of sex toys remain somewhat taboo, vibrators seem to have entered the mainstream. Google turns up countless articles, many from mainstream publications, detailing features to consider when purchasing one, the health benefits associated with regular use, and even information on obtaining one that is eco-friendly. Women are attending Tupperware-style sex toy parties, which offer the opportunity to handle, and purchase vibrators and other adult novelties in the semi-private environment of a person’s home. There are an overwhelming variety of vibrators available, but the most coveted items offer durability, performance, and sleek lines. The beautiful design work of these naughty little luxuries serves as justification for some rather high prices, though very little material goes into producing them, but with 3D printers just beginning to enter the mainstream, women will soon be able to make their own custom vibrators, sleek lines and all, for a fraction of the cost.
A large study headed by Debra Herbenick, and published by the Journal Of Sexual Medicine in 2009 found that 52.5 percent of the 2056 women who participated had used a vibrator at some point (1864). The same year that the aforementioned study was published, The New York Times published an article reporting an uptick in demand for high priced, “designer” sex-toys in one prominent New York City adult toy store, Babeland, despite economic decline. Author Ruth La Ferla interviewed, Babeland owner Clair Cavanaugh, who recounted that, “The last time we saw a spike in our business was after 9/11,” adding that sales of products priced at or above 80 dollars were up by 50 percent over the year preceding the interview (qtd. in La Ferla 1). The same article reports that people are paying up to $250 for certain products, with a “run on the Gigi, a… vibrator shaped like an overfed spoon ($109), and the Nea ($89), a palm-size massager… shaped much like a wireless computer mouse” (La Ferla).
Not only are the most popular vibrators expensive, the profit margins are very high. An adult novelty catalog from 2011, published by General Video of America Trans World News gives both wholesale and retail prices for a staggering array of sex toys and supplies. The catalog shows that mark-ups from wholesale to retail most often fall between 100 to 150 percent, with only a few products falling outside those margins. As wholesale prices from distributors are generally closely guarded, there is little comparative data available to substantiate that this is the norm. However, for a 2007 article in New York, Babeland disclosed to author Arianne Cohen “an average 63 percent markup,” with markups as high as 88 percent for “slimline vibrators.” This is still a very high margin compared to other types of electronics, which are known have to very low markups, usually less than ten percent.
With over half of American women as potential customers, this growing trend toward high style...