Sex In Asia: Three Things The Industry Can Learn From Spark Fest
On May 19th, SparkFest, Asia’s first Sexual Wellness Festival attracted a full-house in Singapore’s Hive Lavender. Founders Erin Chen and Sinnead Ali aimed to “spark” new conversations about sexuality, and normalize sexual wellness as part of our general well-being. Complete with Sex Tech Hackathon, lingerie retailers, and art exhibits, the Fest was a true success.
For us at Modality, the most thought-provoking event was a panel discussion on the Evolution of the Modern Man. During this 45-minute discussion, TV Host and moderator Anita Kapoor challenged panelists Leow Yangfa, executive director of Oogachaga, Farhan Shah, editor of AUGUSTMAN, and Mattias Hulting, founder of Ramblin’s Brands, to define what being a man means in today’s climate of toxic masculinity and the Involuntary Celibate.
As the erotic product industry continues to evolve, here are some of our biggest takeaways from the event:
1. Big opportunity for couple’s products as starter products
Despite the event’s attempt to propagate self-pleasure and self-exploration, the conversation inevitably slid back to one of couple’s intimacy and partner satisfaction. This may be a function of cultural reticence to discuss pleasure outside of the relationship context. Couple’s toy companies like We-Vibe should consider doubling down on the Asian market.
There is also an opportunity for repositioning brands using a couple-centric lens to increase product usage. According to Mattias Hulting, even Smile Makers, a women’s pleasure implement, considers heterosexual partner dynamics when designing product form.
2. Holistic approach is necessary: connecting pleasure to health
Because the laws around erotic products are vague in many Asian countries, connecting sexual pleasure to overall health and wellness serves two purposes. Firstly, it allows you to legally sell products. Secondly, healthcare positioning breaks the stigma barrier. At Spark Fest, roughly 40% of the speakers were either mental health or physical healthcare professionals.
3. Discrete design is key in the region
Because the market is still in its nascent stages, anatomically realistic products may not be as successful in the Asian market just yet. Products that prioritize discretion, like Tenga and Smile Makers, can find their way into mainstream outlets like Watson’s Personal Care Stores packaged as health and wellness products. That said, the internet allows for more privacy. Online erotic retailers carry a vast array of products ranging in explicitness. Discrete packaging, billing, and delivery are still paramount.
At Modality, we believe that the market is ready for a sex product revolution, one that prioritizes consumer product education, discrete design, and a holistic outlook.