Will subscription models for sex toys be able to reach critical mass in Australia?

- July 25, 2013 2 MIN READ

Sydney based entrepreneurs Zway Yee and Aishwarya Rao have recently launched their new venture Discreteness, a subscription service for adult toys and accessories. The startup offer customers three levels of plans that have been categorised into relationship status of single and couples and then a premium box.

Whilst a big fan of the subscription service business model, I do think that it has it’s limitations with certain product offerings, although both Yee and Rao have startup experience founding competitions.com.au and curryocity respectively – I do think that there are a few things missing from the site. It really is not clear whether or not the boxes are geared more towards the male or female market. Although you can send an email with special requests to the company, some users still might safer ordering from an online store for particular things they are into because most of these type of places use a pick and pack method and there is no real communication needed other than a credit card.

Where I do think the model could work in the industry is in the “sex basics” market. We have seen subservice startups already in the country for condoms. And as Yee says “Recent research commissioned by Durex shows that while sales continue to grow for condoms, lubricants are enjoying a huge market spike.” Personally [and this is probably a TMI moment] I find buying lubricant embarrassing, and I would probably consider signing up to a business that provides that type of product [once I wax my back and get into the game again of course].

Having been with female friends in sex shops before making purchases of vibrators and toys, the process is actually an intimate and educational experience and I think that part of the purchasing decisions around these types of products comes down to trust in the [a] person selling it to you if you are a first timer and [b] the brand if you are not a novice. I also think that adult toys are not exactly in the consumable category like condoms and lube and amassing a collection of 12 sex toys a year might be a little too much.

With that all said, curiosity and surprise appeals to a niche market of people which could be enough for the business to grow to a point where an acquisition by a larger retailer in the adult space could be on the cards, especially if they find a way to bring the education and trust factors into the business model.