By Abigail Reid
Oh, I say! What a randy nation we are. Whilst lockdown may have brought the country to a standstill, Brits have indulged in much more than a Netflix binge to occupy their time.
Many have adjusted to a vastly different lifestyle online – taking up new forms of exercise, hobbies, new skills and (according to Google data) searching for sex toys.
Oh yes, the great British public has been pretty saucy during lockdown. Cashback website Quidco reports that sales of adult toys have peaked (ooh la la!) during the period, rivalling the traditional romantic time of Valentine’s Day. Whilst clicks shot up by over 30%, sales increased by over 25% during the first two weeks of lockdown alone and spending overall by nearly 23%.
Chris Hutchings, CMO at Quidco, said: “Sex toys and accessories seem to be in demand the world over at the moment. New Zealand recently revealed that lonely isolators and bored couples have caused sex toy sales to triple during their lockdown, so it’s not really surprising we’re seeing the same surge in demand.”
For partners Josh Morris and Greg Davis, leaving their careers in the city and setting up a business was always going to be a risk. That risk increased tenfold when a global pandemic ensued, but with a business model that was also risqué it seems their entrepreneurship may have paid off.
Aged 25 and 28 respectively, the Clapham-based pair launched their online sex-toy store, Kandid. In times past, sales of sex toys may have been relegated to seedy city centre backstreets or the back pages of porn magazines so it’s somewhat of an achievement that Josh and Greg have collaborated with one of the UK’s biggest health stores, Superdrug, to retail their products on virtual shelves.
“There is still a lot of stigma around sex toys but perceptions have changed in some ways. We are hoping that in the coming years there will continue to be changes as retailers like Superdrug stock these type of products. It’s moving in the right direction but there needs to be a greater focus on self-pleasure and not solely on couples,” said Greg.
‘As gay men we just didn’t feel that there was any real place for people like us in the sex toy industry’
After mulling over what their business venture would be for quite some time the former management consultants were ultimately driven by a need to fill a gap in the market that they claim mainly caters to women.
“As gay men we just didn’t feel that there was any real place for people like us in the sex toy industry. It’s very female-dominated and focused on female toys in general. The LGBT sex toy stores on the other hand tend to be overtly masculine. We felt that the market needed to move to a more gender-neutral place. The product design and packaging is also important as at the moment most of them are packaged in quite garish colours of pink and purple, which is quite gender specific. So, we wanted a brand that’s more inclusive of everyone,” added Josh.
But while amorous couples and singles get their groove on during the restrictions – with love rings, pleasure balls and vibrators, the men warn not to be complacent about safety when it comes to pleasure.
Josh said: “From the early stages of product development for Kandid, we found there is a serious lack of clarity in terms of safety standards and classifications for sex toys. There is no legislation or requirements for body-safe materials. Silicone is one of the few non-porous materials, which is what all of our vibrators are made from.
“Yet, there are no limitations in terms of what sex toys can be made from in the UK. For example, many are often made from a porous jelly rubber, meaning that bacteria can get inside the toy and make it almost impossible to clean. It’s also non-recyclable. There are poor quality, unsafe and cheap products sold through many websites, including Amazon and eBay, which are often sold unchecked.”
‘It would be amazing to push the industry as a whole to a more sex positive, neutral space’
Based on advice from Kandid’s in-house sexual wellness expert, Dr. Elle Vooght, the couple are now on a mission to shake up the adult toy world and get people to think of self-pleasure as part of their daily self-care routine.
“It would be amazing to push the industry as a whole to a more sex positive, neutral space. We are in the process of building an education platform on YouTube. Led by Dr Voight this will focus on tutorials and driving the conversation on openness and self-pleasure as well as growing the brand itself. We will also discuss many taboo topics and key areas of interest.”
Whilst they agree that their marketing has been targeted at the millennial consumer, Josh and Greg would like to encourage a wider range of people to feel comfortable about using their products.
So, whilst restrictions on our liberty continue, it may be quite appealing to some to discover sexual liberation with the use of an aid or two. Visit kandid.com or superdrug.com and take a peek at their vibrators and adult toys section for props that may keep you smiling through lockdown.
Kandid’s top selling items are:
1. The Wild One – Rabbit Vibrator
2. The Unforgettable One – Rabbit Vibrator
3. The Tiny One – Bullet Vibrator
4. The Big One – Magic Wand Vibrator
5. The Cheeky One – Anal Vibrator