India’s biggest e-tailer, Flipkart, recently added ‘sexual wellness’ as a new category to its range of offerings. However, even before Flipkart identified the opportunity, Chennai-based Ohmysecrets.com was among the first ones to tap into the Rs 1,500 crore adult sexual-health market of India.
Vinodh Reddy, Founder of Ohmysecrets, predicts the adult sexual wellness market will grow to Rs 8,700 crore by 2020. With its wide range of international and national brands, Ohmysecrets looks well positioned to get a share of the burgeoning market.
Started in August 2013, Vinodh thought of the idea on one of his business trips. “I saw the sexual wellness market was growing at a bigger level abroad, and when we wanted to replicate the business in India, e-commerce was the obvious solution to cross our mind,” he shares. Next, he set out to study the Indian market in depth, finding suppliers and setting up warehouses. Ohmysecrets has its global product sourcing office in New York and its warehouse in India.
The site offers a wide variety of sexual enhancement products, including edibles, massage oils, gels, lubricants, lotions and lingerie among others. Products on the site are priced between Rs 500 and Rs 15,000. Some of the international sexual wellness brands sold through the site include Pipedreams, Earthly Body, Jelique Inc., Sliquids and Kingmans Industries.
Vinodh bootstrapped to start Ohmysecrets, and says they have a slow but steady traction of customers on the site. “On an average we get over 15,000 customers on the site daily. Although the category is huge, customer awareness of products in this space is quite less, as they have not seen these products in the retail market. Hence, educating the customer is a really big challenge for us," he says. Among the different types of products sold on the site, pleasure enhancement products are the bestsellers. Cash-on-delivery remains the preferred option, with about 70% customers opting for it.
Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore are the cities they get most of their orders from, and customers who adopted early to the site fall in the age group of 30-50 years. Ohmysecrets relies mainly on digital marketing and social media to reach out to its target customers.The team size at Ohmysecrets comprises 10 staff members and three directors on the board-- all operating from Chennai.
A casual search for the term “sexual wellness” throws up quite a few Indian sites, namely Kaamastra.com, That’spersonal.com and IMbesharam.com, among others. That’spersonal is a Mumbai-based venture founded by Samir Saraiya in January 2014, while IMbesharam has two Indian-American Co-founders Raj Armani and Salim Rajan, and was started in July 2013. IMbesharam has also roped in Sunny Leone as its brand ambassador.
Unlike in India, internationally the sexual wellness industry is not clearly demarcated. Abroad, everything to do with sex – products, movies, pornography, sex chat lines, -- etc would be counted under the same space, hence making it tough to put a market size number to it. Europe is the biggest market for sex items put together, where Germany leads the way, and US comes at No. 2 spot in the leader board.
The big challenge for Ohmysecrets, however, is to get Indians to openly accept and buy sexual products. Customers who are open to sex-related purchases may also opt to buy them when they travel overseas.
Adding to the competition, brands like Kamasutra and Durex also have their own e-commerce stores, which sell their own products online. Other e-commerce sites such as Healthkart and Homeshop18 also offer products under a sexual wellness category.
Now with mainstream e-commerce players such as Flipkart and Amazon selling the product, one can hope customer awareness and education about the category may help it grow. But, in a country where the reluctance to discuss sex is widespread, it remains to be seen if businesses like Ohmysecrets can carve a niche for themselves.