Internet giant Netease, which once surprised users by raising pigs, is marching into another unusual industry. On October 23, it announced the launch of Tryfun（春风）, an adult sex products brand that will be sold on Netease Kaola, Netease Yanxuan, and JD.
Its official website shows the brand takes an unusually clinical approach to its product introductions and packaging. Unlike most adult sex product websites that feature scantily clad models and suggestive photos, Tryfun’s models are clad in white shirts.
Conventional wisdom about sex product ads is that they should be vulgar, open, and barely-legal. Tryfun’s muted style is in line with the rest of Netease Yanxuan. Or it could merely be an adjustment to the tastes of the Chinese market.
“Although China produces 70 percent of the world’s sex products, it does so mainly as an OEM for Europe and North America, where people are more open. As a result, product design and packaging tends to be vivid and dramatic, which disagrees with most Asian people’s taste,” Tryfun said in a statement, “To spur impulsive consumption, domestic sex products use sexual suggestiveness as a sell point. Sure, this approach helps increase sales in the short term, but the erotic promotion deters many potential consumers. Aesthetic designs can stimulate Asian people’s desires for a purchase.”
Tryfun not only combines Asian people’s “sexual taste” with industrial design but also draws on the supply chain of Netease Yanxuan and cooperates with premium OEMs worldwide. Currently, Tryfun’s suppliers include OEMs for top brands and A-share listed manufacturers.
“From independent design and production by OEMs to online sales on e-commerce platforms, this chain leaves no room for multi-layer agents. Plus, traffic brought by Netease’s user base saves on advertising costs, making it cost-effective. For instance, the ‘Tryfun Massage Stick—Fish Joy’ is priced 299 yuan while comparable foreign products are three times as expensive,” a spokesperson for the company said.
According to a research report by Zhongtai Securities, the total sales of domestic sex products reached 80 billion yuan in 2014. In 2015, the figure stood at more than 100 billion yuan. “2017 E-commerce Market for Sex Products,” released by Analysys, revealed that 2016 saw China’s B2C trading reaching 10.21 billion yuan and predicted the market would exceed 38.9 billion yuan by 2019.
However, most businesses in the industry are small and loose. Moreover, the industry, pays little attention to brand development and lacks regulation, so no one brand has been able to corner the market.
Admittedly, the sex product business has great potential, but it remains to be seen how far Netease‘s combination of sales channels and independent brands can go.