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Nov 10, 2021

Key Insights during a +922% Adult Sector Growth Spurt - A Lovehoney Case Study

Bethany Cowan

Originally founded in 2002, Lovehoney is a UK-based business that sells lingerie and other adult oriented gifts on the Internet. It is a brand that has become increasingly successful over the years, to the point where it was even the focus of a show called "Frisky Business" that took a deeper look at their day-to-day operations. 

By 2009, the company was already seeing profits in excess of £1.5 million according to one study. All told, it has over 400 of its own branded products and it even holds the official license to design, manufacture and sell products related to the international sensation "Fifty Shades of Grey."

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the adult sector worldwide grew in excess of 922%. Obviously, Lovehoney was at the forefront of that and what they learned and where they think this all might be headed are insights that are certainly worth exploring.

Lovehoney: The Story So Far

Obviously, the last two years haven't been without their challenges despite tremendous growth for Lovehoney - something that is true about nearly any brand you could name. In addition to dealing with a sudden increased demand as the COVID-19 pandemic dragged on, they also needed to balance the transparency of onsite messaging, social distancing measures and guidelines and more. 

At the same time that these logistical challenges were being overcome, Lovehoney took the opportunity of the pandemic to realign their brand message in accordance to everything that was going on in the world. According to one recent study, 63% of people in Britian said that sex was very important to their overall happiness. A third of respondents said that it improved their mental health as well.

At that point, the Lovehoney brand message became clear. During the COVID crisis, they wanted to share their learnings on how self love can help tremendously in times of increased stress and worry.

Throughout this process, the team at Lovehoney learned a number of interesting things. They saw a huge rise in employee benefit sites, for example, with a large percentage of this coming directly from NHS. They also saw an increase in the voucher market as customers had more time to be savvy with their research. This particular market also has a younger skew - beneficial in the long-term, to be sure.

At the same time, they saw a drop in Google Shopping conversions that is in line with the current retail trend. The cashback sector also saw a slight decrease in sales, likely due to them having demographics that tend to skew older. 

Overall, they've been able to enjoy a tremendous amount of success thanks to their in-house affiliate team that is set up to support their long-standing affiliate programs. Loyalty is at a premium given everything going on in the world right now, and this industry is no exception to that. All of this, coupled with local insights fed in through networks, have allowed Lovehoney to not just ride out COVID-19, but to prosper as well. 

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