This marketing agency wants to put the fun back in the sex tech industry
It’s easy to get excited about the financial opportunities of the sex technology industry. But the Healthy Pleasure Collective marketing agency wants to reintroduce pleasure into the sex tech industry. By recognizing individual sexuality and prioritizing the sexual fulfillment of clients, the agency believes that brands can not only grow faster, but also have a positive social impact.
The sexual wellness market was worth $ 39 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 30%. With industry predicted worth $ 122 billion by 2026, investing in sex tech seems like a smart move.
At Healthy Pleasure Collective, fundraising and development isn’t all about making money. Founded by business and brand architect Dominnique Karetsos and Dr Maria Fernana Peraza Godoy, urologist, andrologist and expert in sexual medicine, HCP is a full service agency dedicated to sex technology. The team offers consulting, fundraising, branding, product development, digital marketing, communications, press and business development services for entrepreneurs in the field of sexual health technology and sexuality. well-being. HCP seeks to innovate, advance and build sexual health and tech brands while retaining the key factor that drives all of our interactions with them: pleasure.
The pursuit of pleasure is by nature human, say the founders. When we leave that aside, we not only ignore a crucial part of the user experience, we neglect to recognize a vital part of our humanity. By taking that up, they say, products and solutions can thrive in the marketplace while having a positive impact on sexual health and well-being.
I met Dominnique Karetsos to find out how brands can combine business and pleasure.
Franki Cookney: What prompted you to create an agency dedicated to sextech startups?
Dominique Karetsos: I’ve been a mainstream entrepreneur and brand architect for almost 20 years, but eight years ago I was co-host on BBC Radio London, and it was that experience, combined with becoming a mom to daughter, that brought me personally and socially understand the intrinsic value of sexuality for leading a healthy and fulfilling life.
Dr Mafe Godoy (we call him Mafe) supported me as I archived sex toy brands, repositioning them as healthy, even after people slammed phones on me and others kicked me in. thrown out of meeting rooms. We have joined forces and organized a collective of experts in a space dedicated to this industry.
Cookney: What are the specific marketing and brand development needs of the sex technology industry?
Karetsos: He who cries out for help is the tongue. We need digital marketing channels and platforms, namely Google, Facebook, Apple and Instagram, to educate, interact and improve experiences with our marketing messages. But they destroy our strategies with ignorant and inflexible algorithms, banishing us from the shadows and shutting us down. Brands that enter this space and invest in an app are at high risk of being shut down. So digital marketing strategy should be a well thought out process. It should be tested, tested and retested, and the tongue should be suitable but not diluted. Branded tones should be authentic, but avoid being stereotyped by an algorithm.
Cookney: What specific challenges does the sex tech industry face?
Karetsos: Our industry may be robust in value, but we are limited in people. Attracting skills is a difficult task. There isn’t a chapter on college or college sex tech or school-level economics, and there certainly isn’t “101: How to Market Toys.” sexuality ”in the advertising class. We are seeing a slow but positive recovery, but not fast enough to meet the growth that sex tech startups are evolving into.
Cookney: What has changed in the way sexual wellness products are marketed?
Karetsos: Before sex technology, we started with “adult” – the sex toys and movies we bought down a dark alley in a brown paper bag. And anything that was sexual in the light of day was and still is largely polarized as pornography or family planning.
It is fair to say that we have moved from “adult” consciousness to sexual health. We have dating apps for all gender identities, fertility apps, long distance vibrating toys, AI dolls used in mental health treatment. But it’s still very evident that our industry is like an uncomfortable teenager struggling with what to call himself and not sure if it’s more socially digestible to say “sex tech” or “sexual well-being.” “.
Cookney: Why is it so important for you to integrate sex technology and sexual well-being with health?
Karetsos: Sex is a health issue. Through sex technology, we are making room for the importance of sexuality and its inherent value in our lives. The World Health Organization defines sexual health as “a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality”. He says that “it requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relations, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free from coercion, discrimination and violence.” But to date, we have not integrated sexuality into our social understanding of global health.
Cookney: What is the impact of this message on a company’s marketing strategy?
Karetsos: In the traditional sense of marketing, knowing who your target audience is to organize your message is essential to your communication strategy. But in sex technology, any human being of age to associate with a gender identity is potentially your audience. But not all of them will become your customers. Emily Nagoski put it best when she said, “There are as many sexualities as there are humans.” No sexuality is the same, so a marketing strategy that throws paint at the wall and hopes it sticks won’t bring lasting longevity in the brand’s share.
We need to care enough about educating and nurturing sexualities, developing the tools that allow people to explore in safe spaces, without judgment. Whether it’s fertility tracking software or an educational video on how to masturbate, brands should consider who and how to market, and not just provide labels that the company insists on.
Cookney: What have you learned about the sex tech industry since the inception of HCP?
Karetsos: The sector is still largely polarized. On the one hand you type “vulva” or illustrate a nipple and social channels allow you to close an account in an instant. Whereas in other mediums we trivialize sex – we use it to sell everything. But within this polarized market are pockets of radical innovation. For example, we have an all-out war on pornography (rightly or wrongly). But most of us watch it at some point, so let’s change the scripts to illustrate consensus, ethical, and real-life experiences. Catch the rise of female pornographic start-ups.
Another learning we have had is the potential of sex technology to change the biomedical industry and improve research in an area as neglected as women’s sexual health. It’s not just about developing devices, but also building knowledge from the big data that many apps are already collecting. These data will lead to the development of new treatments for female sexual functioning, including diagnostic and therapeutic devices.
Cookney: In your opinion, what are the challenges that the sector will face in the future and how can we meet them successfully?
Karetsos: A megawatt spotlight must be focused on regulation. We are not a regulated industry, so brands have the freedom to promise anything and not be held accountable. It is only now that ISO regulations come into force, ensuring that medical grade silicone, used for menstrual cups and toys, meets the standard.
However, despite the challenges, we are honestly only seeing positive change and impact. Maybe it’s not as fast or advanced as we would like, but six months ago Sexual Wellbeing wasn’t listed as an independent category in Boots drugstore or even included in the trend emersion beauty reports.
The sex tech industry is responsible for amplifying our beliefs and habits that consensual pleasure is healthy, good, and invaluable to our lives as individuals and as couples.
The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.