Today, people are more empowered than ever to enjoy ‘getting it on’ on their terms. Tomorrow, quality will trump quantity as people seek to optimise their more limited sexual encounters and what constitutes ‘sex’ will evolve.
Western culture has never been more tolerant of sex and its multiple means of fulfilment. There’s been a loosening of social conventions; a less couple-centric focus; and a willingness to explore and discuss previously concealed aspects of sexual pleasure.
Perversions have become kinks. Walmart started selling sex toys in 2018.
This is happening against a backdrop of the Age of Consent, which may be leading to less sex. In the US, people in their early 20s are two and a half times as likely to be abstinent as Gen Xers were at their age.
But many Millennials dismiss the notion of a “sex recession” and note the surge in activism not only for responsible and consensual sex, but for sex that is unambiguously prioritising women’s comfort and pleasure. There has been a huge commercial response to this social shift, with the sexual health and wellness category projected to grow to $122 billion by 2026.
Tomorrow people will take a more individualised and exploratory approach to satisfying their sexual needs, celebrating a range of expressions and identities.
Optimising Sexual Experiences
OMGYes is a website offering paid content touted as sex-ed for 21st Century grown-ups. It has been hailed as the starting point of a new sexual revolution, and it's been championed by the queen of female empowerment and gender equality Emma Watson herself.
The Virtual Relationship Ideal
Shops selling virtual partners can be found on Chinese messaging app WeChat or on an e-commerce site like Taobao. Career focussed Chinese women are happy to buy intimacy on demand - people who will interact online as a trusted and reliable partner. As VR and haptic sex toys evolve, the potential for remote and risk-free sex will accelerate.
Coming Clean on STIs
With the global rise in STIs, the demand for greater truth and transparency in human sexual encounters is likely to grow. Safe – a safe sex app – allows its users to share their verified STD status on their phone, check your partners, and get tested.
Openly optimising sexual fulfilment in more adventurous ways will become the norm.
Technology will continue to help push how we define sex and how people optimise their sexual satisfaction and engage in ‘sexploration’. Some may even begin to identify as Digisexuals, where their primary sexual identity comes through the use of technology.
People will no longer be made feel unusual for their sexual behaviours as communities grow to support more unique sexual interests. Transparency and openness will become a benchmark, making sex physically safer but more physically, and emotionally adventurous too.
Sexual fulfilment will increasingly become an accepted and integrated element of the health and wellness industry.
The brands that win will reject traditional social norms and allow sex to become part of their everyday conversation. Brands will need to be imaginative in the way they incorporate sex as a legitimate facet of their customer’s lifestyles, no different to exercising or eating.
To win tomorrow, brands need to get comfortable figuring out their sex strategy alongside their general health and well-being strategy.
Our recent SIGNALS: report on Tomorrow’s Hedonism explores ‘Naked Attraction' and three more signals of change that are shaping consumers’ pursuit of pleasure.
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