This report about Personal Lubricant for Women is derived from a larger project called Women Sex and Shopping (WSS). WSS looks at the wider issues surrounding sexual goods for women and Sexual Wellness in many forms. Inherent in the project is the understanding that a number of influences are in play including cultural history and gender asymmetry in creative agencies, retail and product design, and marketing. It also acknowledges that many sexual goods areas, far from being established sectors, are in fact, relatively immature – despite the significant consumer audiences they attract.
The Personal Lubricant Report is unusual in that it is based on primary behavioral research. This research has been carried out over time and has involved over 400 women who were self-identifying lubricant users. The sample group differed from the norm in that they had not acquired lubricant from chemist or supermarket channels. Asked to score (on a 0-9 basis) the effect on Pleasure and ‘Psychological Support’ the results were consistently very high with averages across age groups close to 7. Perhaps as importantly, a significant majority of women considered lubricant to be of importance in Arousal. As lubricant is not normally considered a topical arousal product it may mean that psychological factors are in play, which may extend to causalities such as brand and retail as well as direct neural messaging that can only be speculated about at this stage.
The research is the only ‘Use of Lubricant’ study carried out over the last decade and the findings may be of great significance. They suggest a transformative product that is relevant across all age ranges. It would be wrong to suggest however that additional importance is not a factor for the increasingly numerous, active and wealthy older demographic.
The question that the report asks – and answers - is about whether the current market is aligned to the needs of the consumer. There is no doubt that product evolution has produced some excellent and highly effective lubricants. The very fact that lubricant has been shown by the research to be so transformative makes it all the more surprising that the global market for the product is comparatively small. It would seem that the retail and brand base is too narrow and the amount of merchandising space insufficient to support proper market reach. This applies online as well as offline and the difficulties are exacerbated by the inescapable fact that the smaller, pleasure centric brands are mainly online with almost non-existent marketing power or awareness and with ‘Adult Goods’ associations that are not always helpful for many demographics.
This report does not follow the conventional path of looking in detail at the existing market structure and companies. It is more concerned with the lessons that can be learned about the importance of lubricant to women and the shape of a Future Market that will include both brands and retail that will maximize potential for consumers and suppliers.
The answers to the following key questions can be derived from this report:
- What is the effect on female pleasure?
- What are the psychological impacts of lubricant
- Is it an Arousal product and if so, why?
- What are the market implications if arousal is proven?
- Is there an increase in sexual activity associated with lubricant?
- Does sexual behavior change?
- What does the Future of Lubricant retail look like?
- What brands should be involved?
- What strategies should Beauty and Skincare brands consider?
- Is there a valuable insight here for pharmaceuticals?
- Is there a place for small existing brands?
- What research is necessary going forward?
- What should Chemists and Supermarkets do?
- Are there lessons to be learned in the wider female consumer market?
- What might be category products associated with lubricant?
1. Editor and Acknowledgements
- The Women Sex and Shopping Project
- Reading This Report
- Personal Lubricant: Key Points
3. The Lack of Sexual and Female Consumer Research
4. The Personal Lubricant Market
5. Lubricant Research up to 2019
6. Author's Research Results 2015-
7. The Psychologies of Use and (Product) Acquisition
9. The Sexual Products Market 2017-2019
10. The Sex Toy Market: An Essential Understanding
11. Potential Entry of Beauty and Skincare Brands
12. Older Women: Sexual Behaviours and Consumerism
13. Future WSS Research (2019-20)