Sex toys are becoming less taboo, and more popular. We hear this statement again and again. But is it true?
You may use material from this report as long as you refer to this original report. For special requests, or questions, email lead researcher Benjamin Jorgensen at email@example.com
We’ve decided to dig in and find out!
We go where no research has gone before by looking at longitudinal data spanning over five years and thousands of respondents to provide real insight into the sex toy industry.
This report provides a comprehensive walk-through of how the sex toy industry looks today, the public opinion towards it, and sex toy ownership and use.
First, some key findings from this research:
- 78% of Americans over 18 own at least one sex toy as of 2022, which has increased from 65% in 2017
- Half of Americans over 18 have used a sex toy during the last week
- 39% prefer to use sex toys alone rather than with a partner
- Anal toy ownership tripled in 5 years, from only 16% of sex toys owners having an anal toy in 2017 to 46% in 2022.
- 73% agree that sex toys are taboo in society — a 10% increase in the last 5 years
- 89% of the US population have bought from or know of an online sex shop
- 40% of Americans over 18 have spent over $100 on sex toys in the last 12 months
- Shockwave (clitoral suction) vibrators have become extremely popular in recent years, with 64% of women either owning or wanting to own one
- Sex toy owners are 20% more likely to report that they are happy in their relationship, and 17% more likely to report they are happy with their sex life
- The sex toy industry grows at a rate of 13% anually and doubles on avg. every 6th year
- Washington DC, New Hampshire, and Colorado own the most sex toys per capita, while Mississipi South Carolina, and Louisiana own the least.
Data and methodology
- The research uses longitudinal data with two data points: 2017 & 2022.
- The survey had 1,760 respondents.
- Data is focused on US citizens.
- As well as the self-conducted survey data, we have included data from previous research, sales data from Lovehoney Group (a billion-dollar sex toy conglomorate), economic filings, and multiple other sources (see Methodology section at the bottom for more information).
Table of contents:
- Changes the last 5 years
- Demographics in sex toys
- Egocentric around sex toys
- Which sex toys do people own
- Public opinion: Taboo around sex toys
- Where are sex toys purchased
- Sex toy expenses
- Vibrator popularity
- Effects of sex toys
- The users
- Market size of sex toy industry
- Socioeconomy and sex toys
What has happened within sex toys in the past 5 years? [2017 – 2022]
Our independent surveys reveal a lot of different answers to this question.
Here are some of the more interesting observations on the development of sex toy ownership and use:
- 13% more people own sex toys (65% in 2017 compared to 78% in 2022)
- Of those, the biggest growth (+17%) is amongst the older generation (51 years and older)
- 27% of respondents own 5 or more sex toys, compared to 20% in 2017 — an increase of 7%.
- We are becoming more kinky in bed. Owning BDSM-equipment, such as ropes and whips, is more frequent than ever. 23% have used some form in 2022, whereas only 14% had in 2017.
- Almost 10% use sex toys on a daily basis in 2022, compared to just 5% in 2017.
- The younger and older generations, in particular, are avid users of sex toys: 55% of the 18-35 year olds use sex toys once a week or more, and 51% of the 51 and overs use sex toys at least once a week.
To elaborate on these facts, this means that:
- 56 million Americans own more than 5 sex toys, that is 27% of the whole US population.
- Half of Americans over 18 would have used their sex toys during the last week (51% to be exact).
Who owns sex toys – Demographics
- 78% of all Americans over 18 years old own at least one sex toy
- 82% of women own at least one sex toy
- 75% of men own at least one sex toy
- The younger generations are more likely to buy and own sex toys
The ‘egocentric’ generation?
Have we become more individualistic and egocentric over the last 5 years — also when it comes to sex toys?
- Almost twice as many people would rather use sex toys exclusively alone in 2022 compared to just 5 years ago (16% in 2022 v. 9% in 2017).
- 39% prefer to use a sex toy alone rather than with a partner. In 2017, that number was just 23%.
We asked respondents how they prefer to use a sex toy, and these were the results:
The numbers might suggest it.
While we might be quick to think the preference of using sex toys alone applies more to the younger generations, the data actually shows the opposite:
- 20% of the 51 and overs prefer to use sex toys exclusivly alone, whereas only 15% of the 18-35 year olds do.
- 14% of 18-35-year-olds answered that they would rather use sex toys with their partner. Comparatively, only 7% of +51-year-olds answered that they would rather use sex toys with a partner.
We prefer it either-or but not both
If we look even closer at the data, it’s actually not the case that people use sex toys less with a partner, as we might have initially thought.
It’s just that they don’t do ‘both’ as much as they did previously!
So, even though it’s often proclaimed that society is becoming more individualistic, we are actually also becoming more involved with our partners – at least when it comes to sex toys.
People prefer to use sex toys either alone or with a partner, rather than both – compared to 5 years ago.
Which sex toys do people own?
We asked respondents: “Which sex toys do you own?”
Here are the responses from those that do own a sex toy:
|Toys||Ownership (in %)||Female Ownership (in %)||Male Ownership (in %)|
|Masturbator or sex doll||25||21||28|
|Cock ring or sleeve||18||16||19|
The top type of sex toy amongst sex toy owners comes down to:
There was one thing that really surprised us about sex toy ownership — find out what it was in the next section!
Anal Toys on the rise
One answer really sparked our interest when looking at the difference between 2017 and 2022:
Anal toys… There has been a huge spike in interest in anal toys.
- Of those that own sex toys, 46% own some type of anal toy, compared to only 16% in 2017.
- 33% of people asked in 2022 have tried an anal toy on themselves, compared to just 15% in 2017
Of the remaining people, who haven’t tried an anal toy, 21% indicate they would like to try one (2022), compared to just 15% in 2017.
What do we want to try that we haven’t tried already?
It might seem like we’ve reached the limit with sex toys. Can this market keep expanding? What more do we have to explore?
Looking at the answers, it seems there’s still unchartered ground that people want to explore. This is especially exciting for any Love egg manufacturers out there in the coming years.
- 24% want to try a Love Egg in 2022. That number was just 20% in 2017.
The numbers indicate that during the last 5 years, people have tried more of the things they wanted to try previously.
An obvious question arises, why do so few people want to try vibrators in 2022? Well, the numbers indicate that most already have.
The data also shows that people are getting used to sex toys. To the question “For what reasons do you use sex toys?”
- 11% answered that they use sex toys out of habit in 2022, and only 5% answered the same in 2017.
Public opinion on sex toys – “Sex toys are still taboo”
We’ve asked respondents to what extent they agree with statements on the topic of sexuality and sex toys.
Here are their answers.
- Over the past 5 years, there has been an increase of 10% amongst people who beleive that sex toys are still taboo in society today.
- Almost 66% believe that speaking about sex toys among friends is taboo in 2022.
Against all wisdom, the taboo around sex toys has only grown in the past few years. Substantially.
Even though more people than ever own sex toys, we are more afraid to speak about it.
Where do people buy?
A significant proportion of the growth in the last five years seems to have come from people shopping in pharmacies and drug stores.
|Have bought here||Looked here||Not yet||Don’t want to say|
|General store (e.g. Amazon)||32% (26%)||41% (18%)||23% (54%)||4% (3%)|
|Pharmacy||24% (6%)||32% (10%)||35% (81%)||10% (3%)|
|Drug store||21% (7%)||31% (11%)||40% (78%)||8% (3%)|
|Sex shop (online)||32% (35%)||36% (19%)||23% (43%)||9% (3%)|
|Sex shop (retail)||31% (46%)||34% (14%)||29% (37%)||6% (3%)|
Which online sex shops do people know and buy from?
- 89% of the US population have either bought from or know of at least one specific online sex toy retailer.
Which shops are the most popular? And what are the trends over the last 5 years?
- Winners: Lelo, Lovehoney, Goodvibes, and BetterSex have become wildly more popular than they were five years ago.
- Loosers: AdamEve, MyPleasure, Jackandjilladult, and Pureromance on the other hand have seen a steep decline in their popularity over the last 5 years.
In line with the other results and the overall image that sex toys have become way more popular, only 11% of the population were not familiar with at least one of the shops above.
In 2017, a whopping 34% didn’t know any of the mentioned shops.
People spend a lot more on sex toys in 2022
We also asked respondents how much they have spent on sex toys in the last 12 months, and the numbers speak for themselves — we spend a lot more now, compared to 5 years ago!
- 40% of Americans have spent over $100 in the last 12 months on sex toys, compared to just 24% in 2017.
The data is available here:
Types of vibrators that people own or would like to have
We asked people which vibrators they own or would like to own.
The top 5 most popular vibrator types can be seen below.
Over the last 5 years, there’s been a big increase in the popularity of shockwave (clitoral suction) vibrators and anal vibrators:
- Ownership of shockwave or suction vibrators grew from just 9% in 2017 to 19% in 2022.
- Ownership of anal vibrators grew from 9% to 17%
As well as the increase in people who now own these two types of toys, the number of people that would like to own them also increased.
- 8% more would like to have a shockwave vibrator, and 22% more would like to have an anal vibrator.
For reference, the top 5 vibrators of 2022 are listed below, together with the 2017 numbers:
Sex toy effects
- Sex toy users are 16% more likely to have visited a gynecologist in the last year.
- Sex toy users report having experienced 8% fewer days with mental distress.
- 10% have succesfully used sex toys, such as vibrators, penis pumps, or cockrings, to alliviate a problem in their sex life.
- People that own sex toys are almost 20% more likely to report that they are happy in their relationship.
- Sex toy owners are 17% more likely to report that they are happy with their sex life.
- +77% of Americans have, at one point, tried a sex toy
- The avererage adult spends $18* on sex toys every year
- The average dildo bought is 7.52″ long (almost 3″ longer than the average penis size of 4.59″)
- Almost 10% of all sex toys sold are for anal pleasure (sold more often than masturbators)
- 10% of sex toy users don’t tell their partners about it
- The US ranks 4th as the country that purchases the most sex toys per capita
- 18% of people have fantasized about sex toys without ever trying them
- The average cost of a sex toys purchased is $23
*weighted average of multiple sources.
- Men on average spend almost 20% more than women per order
- Men choose to pay extra for faster delivery more often than women (17% more)
- 71% of all condoms are bought by men
- Non-vibrating dildos are most often bought by single men (more than single women, or people in relationships)
- Men percieve the positive effects of using sex toys as higher than women
- Men use dildos and anal plugs twice as much as they use masturbators
- Women on average buy smaller sex toys (e.g., slimmer and shorter dildos and plugs)
- Women percieve the negative effects of using sex toys more severly than men
- 35% of women have recieved a sex toy as a present, which is significantly more than men (20%)
- Women have tried using sex toys more often during solo sex (53%) compared to men (37%)
- 72% of women with some sex toy experience regularly use sex toys during solo sex
- 29% of women have tried using a sex toy designed for penile stimulation during solo sex (e.g., cock ring, masturbators, articficial vaginas, etc.)
Who uses sex toys?
- People with non-hetero sexualities are 50% more likely to have used sex toys
- Sex toys owners are on average 1 year younger than non-owners
- People in relationships are 15% more likely to have used sex toys
- 37% of people, who practice their religion more than once a week, own a sex toy
- People with more education are more likely to own a sex toy
- White, Non-Hispanic people are 22% more likely to own a sex toy compared to Black, Non-Hispanic people
- People who have recieved oral sex are 10 times more likely to also use sex toys
- People who have recieved anal sex are 4 times more likely to also use sex toys
How are sex toys used?
- 41% have tried using lubricant with their sex toys
- 37% have used a vibrator during intercourse
- 41% have used a vibrator during forplay
Cleaning and sanitation
- 14% have never cleaned their vibrator
- 22% only clean their vibrator after use
- 4.6% only clean their vibrator before use
- 7% have tried putting a condom over their vibrator
Market size of sex toy industry (world)
The sex toy industry grows at an average rate of 13% each year, meaning the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is 13%. This spiked with an unusual increase and a following cool-off period due to Covid in 2020-2021.
The numbers for the graph above are presented in the table below.
(in Billion $)
|Number of sex toys|
(in Million Toys)
- The Sex Toy market is projected to grow up to 13% anually
- The sex toy market doubles every 6th year
- If you laid out the sex toys sold in 2021, you would be able to reach around the world over 8 times!
- 70% of all sex toys are produced in China
Sex Toy industry in the US
- There are 7,827 sex toy businesses curently operating (retail and online)
- More than 40,000 people in the US are employed in the sex toy industry
- Adult store sales associates earn $13.05 / hr on average.
Sex Toy sales by US states
Top 10 States with most sex toys
- Washington DC
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
Top 10 states with the least sex toys
- South Carolina
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
Socioeconomics and sex toys
- Richer people buy and own more sex toys
The above data is based on state and city data points.
But the same results are present in both the 2017 and 2022 surveys. By using a logarithmic regression to predict the likelihood of owning sex toys, it’s apparent that there is a much larger likelihood that richer people own sex toys.
The conclusion is simple: Richer people buy more sex toys.
As for the reason why? We cannot conclude on reasons for this, but some arguments come to mind:
- Richer people have more disposable income, so they can more easily act on any wishes to use sex toys
- Sexual wellness as a form of self care might be more openly discussed and less taboo amongst higher earners
Sex toy types
Sex toys users reported the categories of sex toys they used the most as follows:
- Vibrators (e.g. bullet, remote, finger massager): 54.53%
- Dildo (e.g. silicone, glass, metal, double ended): 21.26%
- BDSM toys (e.g. ropes, crops, handcuffs, floggers): 9.26%
- Anal Toys (e.g. anal beads, plugs, anal penetration with dildo): 6.11%
- Food (e.g. Carrot, banana, cucumber): 1.47%
- Household items (e.g. Shower head, end of hairbrush, electric toothbrush): 1.37%
- Balls (e.g. egg vibrators, ben wa balls, vagina balls): 0.42%
- Others (e.g. cock rings, clitoral pump, strap ons): 5.58%
Largest sex toy companies
1. Lovehoney Group
In a recent merger, Lovehoney Limited and WOW Tech combined forces, creating ‘Lovehoney Group’ now valued at 1.2 Billion USD with revenues over 400 mio. USD in 2021. You might have heard of Womanizer, Satisfyer, or even the Fifty Shades of Grey sex toy collection. All are owned by the giant that is Lovehoney Group.
A dominant player in retail, with physical stores in 22 states, as well as Peru and Canada. In a recent acquisition of Excite Group (Australia’s largest online adult store), they proved that 52 years in the industry surely matters and that they also dominate online retail both in the US and internationally.
The data in this study is retrieved from multiple sources. References to those available online or sent to us can be found in the reference list. Apart from what is already listed here, we have procured and analyzed several data points including but not limited to industry reports, company economic reports, sales data from individual companies, as well as search and visitor statistics on popular industry-specific websites. On top of this, we have conducted two surveys providing us with longitudinal data on the development over the last 5 years (2017-2022). The two surveys gathered responses from 1760 respondents. Finally, data has been gathered using online scrapers to crawl and scrape information from online directories. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The analysis was done through data aggregation and averaging. Where multiple sources were available with data discrepancies a weighted average was used. This was based on a subjective measure of the reliability of individual datasets – giving more weight to more reliable datasets. Data treatment and analysis were conducted in Stata 16.0/IC, and both do-file and the dataset is available upon request for email@example.com
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