Shopping environment can ‘transform adult spending habits’

Posted: August 10, 2009

Market analysts Hewson Group has announced the first results from its ‘street survey’ carried out with around 200 women in different parts of the UK. The women were approached at random in bars and cafes by female researchers and asked to fill in a complex questionnaire and then return it in a sealed envelope. The intention was to gather the views of a cross section of the public without the bias caused in most such surveys by self selection.

“The information we got back was extremely detailed and both very interesting and very surprising,” said Judy Pearce, Research Director at Hewson Group. “It would be fair to say that around 35% of women were not particularly interested in erotic goods but the majority certainly were and were not afraid to express robust views. I was very surprised by the high number – over 60% – who said they would buy more erotic goods if the environment was right and almost exactly the same percentage who said that they found the idea of buying a sex toy arousing in itself. It is fairly clear however, that what women want and what they actually buy at the moment are two different things. They were very explicit about the shops they wanted and they toys and accessories they might buy.”

The survey also included an additional ‘control’ group at a women-only sex shop in London who were asked to complete the questionnaire. According to Judy Pearce, the contrast between the two sets of research is compelling: “We saw a very high ownership of a single sex toy amongst the general public but very few instances – only about 5% – of ‘erotic collections’ that might include an extensive range of items from toys to bondage or lingerie or perhaps books or films. In the control group this was completely inverted with far higher levels of spend amongst nearly half the group. This tends to suggest a number of things and a key conclusion must be that a desirable shopping environment can transform spending habits in this particular sector.”

The initial Hewson Group research, published at the end of 2008, proposed that there might be a ‘high propensity’ segment in the UK of around five million women who would spend upwards of £200 per year on erotic goods. Pearce believes that the street survey confirms this. She explained: “It would mean that the UK market could be worth well over £1bn. However, the retail environment that would support that sort of figure simply doesn’t exist in any meaningful way right now. Women were very consistent in saying what they wanted from High Street or online environments; these are hard to find and there is a clear opportunity for new and imaginative entrants in the marketplace.”

The 2008 report from the Hewson Group, entitled Women Sex and Shopping, has been featured in The Times, Financial Times and on Channel 4’s Sex Education Show. The report, along with the ongoing research stream, can be purchased for £890 from Hewson Group – ETO readers are eligible for a 30% discount off this price. Call Judy Pearce on 07736 961926 or visit www.hewson.co.uk for more details.

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