India opens up to adult sexual wellness products


By Papri Das

In the land of the Kamasutra, people have finally woken up to the joys of sex toys or sexual wellness products. While Indian laws prohibit the sale of sex toys in the country against obscenity, India’s Gen Z has come to accept and appreciate its use and no longer treats it as taboo, dirty, illegal, pornographic or vulgar.

While education and awareness has brought a majority of this progressive change, a word of thanks must go to the number of e-shops that have sprung up catering to the need gap of the adult product market in India. Sites like IMbesharam, OhMySecrets, Shycart and That’s Personal have given Indian consumers a safe, private and trustworthy haven that caters to their needs of adult and sexual wellness products.

When That’s Personal was first launched in 2013, it created quite a stir in the industry. This new e-shop, which openly sold lubricants, seductive couple games and lingerie, became a talk of the town, albeit in hushed whispers. It's been two years since That’s Personal launched and its CEO Samir Saraiya says that the site has been doing well.

Exec Lifestyle caught up with Saraiya in a candid chat on how big the adult product market is in India, the latest trends amongst the site’s consumers and how Indians are opening up to sex products.


How big is the market for sexual products in India and how far have e-commerce sites been able to penetrate it?

The market potential in India is huge. The market size is estimated to grow to Rs 9000 crore by 2020. We’ve just hit the upper crust of this huge market where the early adopters have opened up to us. The outlook towards sexual health and sexual wellness is changing every single day. We’re growing at a rapid pace of over 400 per cent over the last year. This is testament to the fact that the adoption of sexual health and wellness as a concept is, now, becoming a widely accepted phenomena.

Recently Snapdeal and OhMySecrets got in trouble for selling sexual products. Have you faced any such legal problems at That's Personal? How do you ensure your products are all legal to be sold in India?

There are no legal concerns in the actual sale of sex toys, apparels and ancillary sexual products. Since these items are not banned for import or sale in India, there is no legal bar for their sale. However, the concern arises only in the manner in which these sex toys, apparels and related products are displayed and exhibited for sale in India.

Under Indian law, ‘obscenity’ is an offence. Therefore, if any of these items are advertised and / or displayed for sale using any obscene pictures, graphics, display mechanism, or otherwise in any obscene manner, then there could be a cause for concern. Although neither the Indian Penal Code nor the Information Technology Act, 2000 defines what ‘obscenity’ is.

As long as the products are not ‘obscene’ and/or displayed or exhibited in a manner, which is not ‘obscene’, there is no legal concern on the sale of such products. However, this does not mean that a pornographic magazine or a movie can be freely sold or distributed in India simply by camouflaging its physical appearance. The fact that the content of such a product/ article is ‘obscene’, it will fall certainly within the purview of Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code and hence illegal in India. We have a dedicated team who go through the products very carefully and curate the ones, which won’t fall under the obscenity laws and won’t look offensive. They have the right to veto any products they feel are obscene for India socially. Also, we steer clear of sex toys or pharmacy products as well.

How difficult was it to launch the site in India, get it marketed and even get people on board?

We sell only those products, which are completely legal to sell in India. We’ve been very conscious of staying away from products that are anywhere close to the magical remedies act. We believe in the concept of sexual health and wellness and we’ve projected ourselves as a clean, youthful and a fun brand to interact with. This clean positioning and projection has led to the entire system believing and supporting in us.

We get around 50 resumes a day for various openings that we have on our site. Rich talent is attracted and willing to work with us because of the growth opportunity that this sector has as well as the fun, youthful and innovative nature of the work environment that exists within our organization.

Have you ever been accused of 'corrupting' India's culture?

Absolutely not! In fact, we received accolades from everywhere when we launched. We received tremendous affection and support from all quarters where people were keen for a business like this to start. We have a loyal community on Facebook and LinkedIn and a legion of fans on Twitter, who eagerly anticipate the content that we create for them. We receive so many calls and emails enquiring about the products and wanting to know more about how to use them. We also get a lot of hilarious customer queries. For example: One specific query that we receive often is about Gujaratis enquiring if a lot of our products are vegetarian and we have to inform them that all products are purely vegetarian!

Do you think people equate sex store to pornography, and shy away from it?

I think equating a sex store to pornography is now passé and a belief of the 1990s. The mindset of people is evolving every day and they’re able to differentiate clearly between pornography and sexual health/wellness.

How much money does an average buy make you? How are the items priced?

We have items for all types of audiences. So, we have economy products ranged between Rs 0 – 1000 and on the other end of the spectrum, we also have extremely premium brands like LELO, which are priced well over Rs 20,000. The average purchase order value is Rs 2600 with about 2.2 products/order. The average order value is three times of any other regular E-Commerce organization, which is something that really puts us in good stead.

Is their any data to support the demography that visit and buy from the site?

The number of male visitors at 61 per cent easily outdoes the number of female visitors who form about 31 per cent of the visitors in India. However, females constitute about 39 per cent of the total purchases as opposed to 61 per cent by men. Essentially, females purchase more when they visit.

However, the number of females visiting our site is rapidly growing and we think we’ll reach a stage within this calendar year where females will be purchasing more than males. The age group between 25 – 34 years forms about 52 per cent of the total purchases on the site.

As per the site, what are the most popular items on the site?

Massagers are our leading contributors followed by Lubricants and Women’s Sensual Lingerie. The youth, especially, is trying more of Adult Games that we have. The most significant trend, however, is in the gifting category. Increasingly, people are trying to gift their spouse, friends, etc. something naughty or fun for their weddings, birthdays and honeymoon travels. This gifting trend is in fact very popular amongst girls with more than 74 per cent of the gifting orders coming from women.

Where are the items sourced?

We source products from all across the world. We have 32 top international brands that we have exclusive deals with. There are no Indian brands manufacturing these items.

Fun facts:

The market size is estimated to grow to Rs 9000 crore by 2020.

Number of male visitors at 61% easily outdo the number of female visitors who form about 31% of the visitors in India.

The most significant trend, however, is in the gifting category, mostly popular amongst girls with more than 74% of the gifting orders coming from women.

*Survey and assessment conducted by That’s Personal team from their consumer reports


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