Désir Diaries / Sex Toy Guide / Results: Desir’s Largest Sex Toy Industry Survey in SA

Results: Desir’s Largest Sex Toy Industry Survey in SA

Do You Love Vibrators, Dirty Fiction and Chasing Stronger Orgasms? You Must Be South African

What SA’s Largest Sex Toy Industry Report Revealed about our Complex Relationship with Sex, Kinks and Erotic Toy Use

There we were sitting in our air-conditioned offices in Camps Bay last year when we came across a set of statistics that took us by surprise. South African’s had the third highest search volume for sex toys in the world, according to Google.

What else didn’t we know?

We quickly realised that something had to be done. So, a few months ago Désir set out on a crusade to answer those lingering questions on sex toy attitudes and use – the likes, the loves, the ugly truths – it’s all revealed in the largest sex toy industry survey ever conducted in the South Africa. Should you wish to browse Désir’s sex toys catalog please do so at your leisure.

Prior to releasing the results, please note Désir has a Sex Toy Survey Infographic allowing a quick reference to all the results. Should you wish to share the infographic, please use either

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Alternatively, you can use the easy Social Shareable Shortcut links at the bottom of this post.

And here are the results:

South African’s and Their Sex Toys: The Results

Our report results confirm the findings from the original StatisticsBrain survey last year, which indicated that SA’s love their sex toys. Some 76.7% of our respondents indicated that they have in fact used a sex toy in their lives, with 23.3% of the group stating they have never used one at all.


We split the survey into 2 – beliefs and attitudes from people that love sex toys, and the same from those that don’t, and what their reasons may be for feeling the way that they do!

Let’s get into it and find out what South African’s really think about the sex toy industry.

South Africans and Sex: Attitudes and Frequency

If you could peer inside the mind of the average South African, what would you find? One thing is for certain, we don’t like to openly speak about sex, and we definitely don’t like to speak about sex toys.

In our 2 test groups – those who have and have not ever used sex toys – we asked respondents how often they tend to have sex to see if sex toys have any impact on libido.

    • Our sex toy users indicated that 49.2% of them have sex multiple times a week, 23.8% do it 1-5 times a month, with 6% doing it daily, and 21% of them not doing it enough.


    • Our non sex toy users indicated that 47.1% of them have sex multiple times a week, 24.8% of them enjoy it 1-5 times a month, a lucky 3.9% do it daily while a whopping 24.2% are clearly dissatisfied with their sex lives checking the ‘not often enough’ box.


Sex toys then, seem to make a significant difference at the top end of sexual frequency, escalating daily encounters by 2.1%, multiple weekly encounters by 2.1% and then tapering off again at 1-5 times a month, with a decline of 1%.

Sex toys also seem to shift 3.2% of the population out of the ‘not often enough’ category into a more suitable bracket – which theoretically proves with authentic population data that sex toys do in fact save sex lives.

This data shows us that sex toy use can in fact improve a couple’s sex life, especially if both people are still committed to keeping the spark alive and making time for each other.

South African’s That Love Their Sex Toys: Results

Where we buy our sex toys…


No surprises in the results on how SA’s prefer to buy their sex toys – with online websites coming in at 42.9%, a clear winner. Much of the population (20.7%) still uses brick and mortar stores, which may be contributing to the negative stigma that still lurks about the sex toy industry in the country.

The real surprises in this segment came from 2 areas, home parties and gift giving. Some 17.2% of our respondents said that they acquired their sex toys as a gift, which means buying toys for another person is becoming a more common practice in a relationship.

Home parties are also seizing the interest of more South African’s with 7% of our respondents open enough to buy sex toys in front of friends in a social context. The stigmas are changing!

What makes us decide to buy…


It’s extremely clear from the data that the main reason for sex toy purchases is to improve a person’s sex life, with 44.4% of respondents admitting that their toy purchase was to spice things up between the sheets. With nearly half of our test group experiencing some kind of sexual lag at some point, it’s great to see more people turning to toys to keep the intimacy alive.

The rest of our group indicated the following – 17.5% of them needed a new toy, 19% of them were purchasing for someone else as a surprise gift, and 19% of people just wanted to try out a specific toy. Taken in context with some of the other results we received, South African’s are beginning to try different toys, but tend to stay within their toy comfort zones, though this is changing!

The sex toy favourites among South Africans vs what sells…

Drumroll please – which sex toys have you used and which are your favourite to use in the bedroom? Also which toys do you think sell the most? The results below!


South Africans love their vibrators, even though around 10% of the people that use them wouldn’t classify them as their favourite of all the sex toys. Does this mean vibrators are gateway toys?

Even more telling is how distorted the perception is about the popularity of vibrators – nearly 70% of our respondents chose the vibrator as the top selling toy, and while that is true – it’s also true that it’s definitely not everyone’s favourite, even though it seems to be a bedroom essential.


What is it about the vibrator that makes it the most approachable sex toy?

How often do South Africans buy…


Ever wonder how often people are buying sex toys? The answers are in! A resounding 81.9% of our test group buy sex toys 1-3 times a year. That means the average South African that uses sex toys owns several of them!

With 13.1% buying 3-8 times a year and 5% buying 8 or more times a year, it’s clear that nearly 20% of all sex toys sold are being bought by the same people. On average there are a lot of South Africans buying multiple sex toys every year, with a keen interest in new and exciting products to try.

Our preferred use for sex toys…


We asked our respondents what they used their chosen sex toys for the most, and were delighted with the results. Some 43.2% of respondents are using their toys in couple’s exploration for connection and a deeper sense of intimacy together!

Solo play came in next with 28.1%, no surprises there, and foreplay came in at 21.7% – which has always been a common concern with long term couples. A generous 6.9% admitted to using their sex toys for fetish play.

Interestingly, we noticed a lot of the fetish play responses matched up with the South Africans who love bondage, a growing community thanks to Fifty Shades!

How sex toys improve our relationships…



We asked our respondents how sex toys improved their relationships, to find out if there are any underlying areas of concern we have missed. And what we discovered was great!

The main way sex toys improve South African relationships is by making orgasms stronger and better. Some 26% of our group agreed on this, highlighting the need for greater education on orgasms, techniques and toys to facilitate this concern.

Sex toys also improve relationships by extending foreplay, according to 20.8% of our respondents, a factor we might point out, which leads to orgasm and sexual satisfaction.

Some 18.9% of our group admitted sex toys help with intimacy and connection, while 17.3% said it helps them get aroused. Finally, 16.9% of respondents said it increased possibilities for play in the bedroom.

How often we orgasm using sex toys…


It’s official. A resounding 72% of South Africans always orgasm when using a sex toy! It’s what we always suspected, and have now confirmed – toys make orgasms last longer, happen with greater frequency and become more powerful overall.

The rest of our respondents said that they sometimes orgasm (22%), that they infrequently orgasm (4.6%) or that they never, ever orgasm (1.4%).

Nearly 30% of the South African respondents we surveyed struggle to achieve orgasm, even with toys during their sexual encounters. This is a much bigger problem than we thought.

How often we use our toys…


The majority of South African sex toy users (40.9%) use their toys regularly or often, followed by 26.6% using them 1-5 times a month, 19.6% of people using them on special occasions only and 12.9% using them at least once a week.

What is interesting here is that nearly 20% of our sex toy users only allow toy play on special occasions! It tends to explain the toy gifting and a conservative demographic that sees toys as more of a novelty than an essential bedroom item for play and intimacy.

The sex toy elements most important to us…


There are a lot of elements South Africans look for in a good sex toy, but we wanted to know which the most important were. So, we asked. Four determiners rose to the surface as methods that our customers use to making purchasing decisions.

The most important element for SA’s was quality with 23.5% of respondents agreeing on that, but price was a close second at 19.8%. Discretion was the next most critical factor at 11.2%, with product descriptions coming in at 11.1%.

South Africans insist on sex toys that are high quality and well-priced, with a strong product description that educates them on the product, and it must be delivered with the utmost discretion.

Features like delivery method (9.9%), special offers (8.4%), user reviews (7.1%), customer service (5.6%), a unique package process (2.9%) and a blog (0.4%) are less important.

Our sexual exploration into fetishes we have tried…

South Africans are a kinky bunch, so we thought we would ask which fetishes our respondents have tried out and enjoyed. The answers were fascinating!

The most indulged in fetish…erotic literature!


  • 23% Erotic literature
  • 17.8% Bondage/BDSM
  • 17% Roleplaying
  • 11.1% No fetishes at all
  • 8.3% Water sports
  • 7.1% Exhibitionism
  • 6.5% Voyeurism
  • 5.5% Group Sex
  • 2.3% Foot Worship

What we found most interesting here is the amount of people who have indulged in roleplaying, yet do not rate it well as a preferred bedroom game.

Section 2 – South African’s That Do Not Use Sex Toys: Results

The test group needed to be a little more balanced, so we decided not to exclude people who have never used sex toys. Instead, we decided to probe a little deeper into their attitudes and feelings towards the sex toy industry so that we could bring about positive change.

Here’s what we discovered.

Why they have never bought a sex toy…

South Africans don’t know what to buy, and they are too embarrassed to step into a sex shop!

The overwhelming reason why 37.7% of South Africans have not bought a sex toy, is because ‘they don’t know what to get’ – once again highlighting the desperate need for the industry to rid itself of its smutty past, and embrace education as a way forward. People want to know!


Some 29% of our respondents indicated that they were too embarrassed to go into a sex toy shop to buy one. This tells us that people still don’t realise online shopping is safe and discreet, and there is a lot of residual mistrust about buying something like a sex toy online.

The remaining 19.7% of our non-users said that they have never really thought about it, with 9.8% stating that they don’t want to make their partner feel inadequate, and 3.8% saying that they believe sex toy ownership is downright wrong.

It’s true that misinformation and stigma is heavily attached to this industry, and we must continue to push for an open dialogue about sex so that educational awareness can take root.

If they had to buy a sex toy, which would they buy…

Curious as to what non sex toy users believe about sex toys, we asked them which toy they would buy if they had to get one. The results were absolutely fascinating. Instead of dismissing the broad range of toys, many of these non-users were upfront about their interests.


  • Vibrators 29.7%
  • Lingerie 24.9%
  • Dildos and Dongs 9.5%
  • Cock Rings 7.7%
  • Fleshlight 6.5%
  • Prostate Massager 6.2%
  • Bondage Restraints 4.7%
  • Anal toys 4.5%
  • Ben Wa Balls 4.2%
  • Strap-On 2.1%

What really struck us here is how closely most non-users sentiment and tastes matched with people that did use sex toys. You’ll notice vibrators and lingerie are still the most popular choices (vibrators are the most chosen again because a lot of education exists on them in the world), and the next two are closely related even though they have switched places.

More people who have never used sex toys would use dildos and dongs than cock rings, there is a greater demand for bondage gear in the non-user group and anal toys are more popular.

Who would they buy a sex toy for if they had to…

Once again, no surprises here – our non-users indicated that 64.4% of them would buy a toy for couple’s play, 33.1% indicated they would buy a toy to use alone and 2.5% said that they would buy a toy for their partner to use alone.


How sexually satisfied are non sex toy users…

We were interested in how sexually satisfied these


  • 32% indicated that they were almost completely satisfied with their sex lives
  • 24.8% of them indicated they were totally satisfied with their sex lives
  • 22.9% of them said that they were somewhat satisfied with their sex lives
  • 11.1% of them said they were extremely dissatisfied with their sex lives
  • 9.2% said they were dissatisfied with their sex lives

If anything there is at least a 20% segment in this demographic that is not happy with how their sex lives are, and want them to improve. Educating these individuals may help them!

Finally, we asked for thoughts on how the sex toy industry in SA might improve…

We received a lot of responses with variations of the following ideas. These we will continue to challenge and overcome in the future, as Désir’s charter mission.

  • Greater need for cleaner, less seedy real world shops
  • Greater need for educational marketing for the more conservative public
  • Sex education for both genders, his and her pleasure
  • Education on how sex toys can improve your sex life
  • Greater discretion and a more upmarket reputation
  • Challenge sex toy stigmas and taboos
  • Separate sex toys from the porn industry, they are not the same
  • Have more sex toy options
  • More education around fetishes and sexual lifestyles

Desir’s Sex Toy Survey Shareable Infographic

The Shareable Infographic Image URL:

The Largest Sex Toy Industry Survey in SA Infographic
The Largest Sex Toy Industry Survey in SA Infographic

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Thank you for reading Désir’s 2017 Sex Toy Industry Report. Please feel free to use these stats on your site or to share them on social media. All we ask is for you to credit us, and spread the message so that we can slowly inch the adult toy industry into the light!

Check out Désir Diaries, our educational sex, love and health blog.

Loved this post? Then you’ll love our 2016 Sexy Toys for Women Awards here

Any stats here you found surprising, strange or interesting? We want to know, leave your comment below.

About Jade


I am the Operations Manager at Désir & feel so privileged to have been a part of this adventure from the very beginning, conceptualizing and building our amazing lingerie and sex toy ranges. Having a Diploma in Business Analysis my aim is to assist in the streamlining of processes, thereby ensuring maximum efficiency, remaining relevant by keeping up to date with trends, and producing statistical analysis in order to meet our consumer’s needs.

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