Fifty Shades Movie Fuels Sex-Toy Surge

Even Target and other mainstream retailers are on board
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2015 2:50 PM CST
Fifty Shades Movie Fuels Sex-Toy Surge
This file combo made of book cover images provided by Vintage Books shows the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy by author EL James.   (AP Photo/Vintage Books, File)

Of course there were going to be product tie-ins to the Fifty Shades of Grey movie premiering Valentine's weekend—and of course those products were going to veer into adults-only territory, considering the steaminess of EL James' book trilogy on which the film is based. But the sex-toy industry is really banking on the movie to drive sales, which in turn is spurring retailers to order plenty of inventory and redesign current products to fit the Fifty Shades theme, the New York Times reports. "I would say that every single person has jumped on the bandwagon in terms of making toys around Fifty Shades," says Sara Ramirez, a publisher at porn trade publication XBIZ. Even mainstream retailers like Target are on board, though one Oklahoma consumer complained that Fifty Shades merchandise was being sold next to kids' dental care products, Consumerist reports.

The sale of blindfolds, whips, and other fetish-inspired items is already big business: A conservative estimate by IBISWorld puts 2013 sales of sex toys in the US at $613 million (Ramirez estimates it's really between $1 billion and $2 billion). Experts cited by the Times note that erotic products sold like nuts after Fifty Shades came out as an e-book in 2011; IBISWorld says the debut prompted a 7.5% jump in sex toys, books, and videos in 2013. But while some companies have boosted supply orders, others are preparing more cautiously, saying they don't want to be stuck with extra vibrators and feather-adorned handcuffs—or oversell sexual nirvana to their customers. "Using Kegel balls is not too much fun, it's actually hard work to do it right," the CEO of a sex-toy manufacturer tells the Times. (Whatever toys you may use, be careful when trying out this position.)

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