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What drives sex toy popularity? A morphological examination of vaginally-insertable products sold by the world’s largest sexual wellness company

Johns, Sarah E., Bushnell, Nerys (2024) What drives sex toy popularity? A morphological examination of vaginally-insertable products sold by the world’s largest sexual wellness company. The Journal of Sex Research, 61 (2). pp. 161-168. ISSN 0022-4499. E-ISSN 1559-8519. (doi:10.1080/00224499.2023.2175193) (KAR id:99672)


There is limited research into the morphology of sex toys, and specifically into (the often phallic-shaped) vibrators and dildos and what they may represent in terms of user preferences for male genital morphology. This study provides insight into consumer preference around vaginally insertable sex toys, their features, and what contributes to their popularity. Using a data set compiling information from the world’s largest online sexual wellness retailer Lovehoney, we examined the dimensions, price, and morphological features of 265 sex toys designed for vaginal insertion to determine what contributes to item popularity. Using regression models, we found that realistic features did not predict item popularity, whereas price (p < .001) and circumference (p = .01) significantly predicted the overall popularity of a toy. It appears that consumers show a preference for insertable sex toys that are not direct replicas of the male penis, which suggests they are not seeking a realistic partner substitute. Further, we found that the length of the toy did not significantly predict popularity which is consistent with other work showing that women do not place considerable emphasis on large phallus size. Our results can contribute to future product design and marketing, as well as reveal preferences toward particular characteristics of the phallus (whether real or toy).

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/00224499.2023.2175193
Uncontrolled keywords: Sex toys, dildo, penis size, female preference, phallus, vibrator, human sexuality
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5548.32 E-commerce
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women > HQ21 Sexual behavior and attitudes
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA788 Sexual health
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Sarah Johns
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2023 18:13 UTC
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2024 20:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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Johns, Sarah E..

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Bushnell, Nerys.

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