Counterfeiters set sights on growing sex toy market

The market for sex toys has exploded in recent years to an estimated $23.7bn worldwide in 2017, so it isn’t surprising that counterfeiters are trying to cash in.

Recent research by brand protection consultancy Red Points has found that the main way people purchase sex toys is unsurprisingly online, which puts them at high risk of buying fakes by accident. The research has also shown that Amazon is the most popular online retailer for the products.

All told, 79 per cent of around 500 respondents said they would refer to purchase online, but alarmingly almost three quarters (72 per cent) indicated they would buy a counterfeit sex toy if the price was sufficiently low, and around 20 per cent believe they have already purchased fakes, with Amazon and eBay the two most common sources followed by, Facebook and Instagram.

And lest brand owners think they can ignore the problem, more than a third (37 per cent) of those surveyed said they would complain to the genuine manufacturer if they bought a fake.

Even more worryingly was what Red Points found when it looked at the construction of fake toys. Working with Japanese manufacturer Tenga, it purchased and analysed a counterfeit sex toy look at the difference in its construction compared to the genuine product, and worryingly revealed multiple ways the manufacturers of the knock-offs have cut corners to reduce costs – and introduced potentially harmful materials.

Among the main differences were that Tenga products contain only body-safe ingredients, while the fake product low-quality materials that are likely to degrade quickly, and a lubricant that potentially contains toxic ingredients. 

The counterfeit had a pungent smell that Tenga and Red Points said was “possibly caused by low-quality and non-sterilised materials” and also appeared to be contaminated with dead insects.

Those findings seem to be borne out by customer experiences with counterfeits, with the survey finding 33 per cent of those who bought a fake saying they were disappointed with the product and another 23 per cent were very disappointed, which Red Points notes “is worrying fir brands trying ti build a sustainable business.”

 “Over one million customers have been affected by scam sellers on Amazon alone,” says Red Points. “Counterfeiters are not bound by safety and health regulations and have no concerns about the effects that these fake products have on consumers and businesses.”

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