Sex toy manufacturers in China have seen a surge in orders since the start of the coronavirus, marking one of a few bright spots in an economy battered by the pandemic, according to industry insiders.
China’s economy, including its manufacturing outlook and exports, crashed at the start of the year at the height of the outbreak with the official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index plunging to an all-time low in February, while exports shrank by 17.2 per cent in January and February combined.
The overall economy has staged a mild recovery since, and the sex toy industry seems to have been able to enjoy a more rapid recovery since the enforced closures and lockdowns, with one Shandong-based manufacturer reporting a 30 per cent increase in exports and domestic sales.
Overseas sales manager Violet Du said Shandong-based Libo Technology had increased its production line staff by around 25 per cent to close to 400 since they returned to work at the end of February.
France, the United States and Italy have been the most active export markets over the last four months, according to Du, although domestic sales slowed as China began to bring the coronavirus under control.
“Our production lines are running around the clock, and our workers are working in two shifts to meet the surging demand,” Du said.
The surge in demand is largely due to lockdown measures, added Du, with exports to the US and some European countries expected to continue to rise as virus containment measures remain in place.
Dongguan-based manufacturer Aibei Sex Doll Company has also increased staffing levels but has been still forced to turn away orders, according to general manager Lou, who only provided his surname.
Aibei produces around 1,500 sex dolls per month, with prices ranging from 2,200 yuan to 3,600 yuan, although Lou insists with a larger capacity, sales could have surged by more than 50 per cent.
“This is a niche market in China, because the Chinese culture is relatively conservative, so all our products are export-oriented, with the US and Europe being the largest market,” Lou said.
Large factories in Dongguan can produce around 2,000 dolls per month, with smaller factories producing around 300 to 500, although this is far below the current demand from the US and Europe, added Lou.
China’s sex toy exports have increased by 50 per cent so far this year, according to the Shanghai-based The Paper, with exports of sex doll doubling. Sex doll exports to Italy have increased fivefold since March, when confirmed coronavirus cases began to emerge.
Various reports also suggest demand from the US, Britain, Denmark, New Zealand, and Australia increased when lockdown measures were introduced.
In March and April as coronavirus cases surged, Adam and Eve, a popular sex toy brand in North America, reported that their online sales had increased by around 30 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Berlin-based sex toy maker Wow Tech Group reported in April that online sales for their We-Vibe and Womanizer brands had increased by more than 200 per cent.