Christopher Varmus, 12.19.08, 04:40 PM EST
The cash-strapped masses may be spending less on restaurants and entertainment, but not necessarily on the quality of their sex lives–and manufacturers of sexual aids are broadening their lines to meet the demand.
To wit: Trojan now offers a condom that comes with a disposable vibrating ring. Durex, another condom maker, sells a vibrator and a line of lubricants. Even Philips Electronics has joined competitor Hitachi in the vibrator business. “We’re much more open now to experimenting sexually,” says Louis Friedman, chief executive of Liberator, a maker of sex toys in Atlanta. “Were seeing countless new products being sold to a much larger audience than people realized. Even the more conservative retailers have begun to come around.”
Indeed, Wal-Mart , Walgreen and Target now peddle sexual aids, including condoms, lubricants and personal massagers. Walgreen’s Web site features a “sexual wellness” tab, behind which are listed not only contraceptives and fertility tests, but also pleasure-enhancing dietary supplements, romance-themed costumes and games, massage oils and lotions, and the “Emotional Bliss Femblossom” vibrator. (Representatives from Walgreen’s and Target were unavailable for comment; a Wal-Mart communications manager would say only that the chain “has a diverse mix of shoppers who visit our stores each day, and we are committed to providing customers with the selection of products they expect to find in our stores.”)