Fifty Shades of Grey: Sex toy industry expects boost in sales after release of movie

Industry insiders say publication of EL James' novel led to worldwide run on pleasure balls

Andrew Buncombe
Monday 02 February 2015 16:25
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Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

You could call it a tied-up tie-in.

Sex toy retailers are poised with anticipation for what they believe will be a major boost in sales following the opening of Fifty Shades of Grey.

The New York Times said that the sex toy industry was counting on a spike surrounding the Valentines Day release of the Universal Pictures film, in much the same way that the publication of EL James' erotic novel, on which the movie is based, originally did.

The upcoming movie is based on the novel by EL James

Mainstream retailers are stocking up on blindfolds, whips, handcuffs and masks. Even Target, one of the the US’s biggest multi-brand stores, has started selling an official Fifty Shades of Grey vibrating love ring for men. The newspaper noted that the ring is not designed for the finger.

“It is the biggest moment in our industry in popular culture pretty much ever,” said Claire Cavanah, a co-founder of Babebland, an adult novelty retailer.

This week the company is offering free Fifty Shades of Grey manicures. “We’re all sort of preparing for what could be another wave of toys”.

The film of the novel, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, has been directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. She recently told The Independent that directing the movie had in part been a “Machiavellian” tactic, “to move myself further up the list, so that I can do the films I want to do”.

Experts within the sex toy industry have said it was difficult to predict an accurate estimate on how much sales could be affected or which items will prove to be popular.

However, they point to one graphic scene in the novel involving Kegel balls, which had been promoted for women’s sexual health after giving birth. After the book’s publication, the item’s manufacturer, California Exotic Novelties, sold one million in six months.

“There was a worldwide shortage of pleasure balls, literally,” said Neal Slateford of Lovehoney, the company which has rights to make official Fifty Shades of Grey products. “Knowing that those are not going to be in the movie, I wouldn’t expect there to be a huge amount of those.”

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