A dancer performs at an adult toy expo in Shanghai, March 18. (Photo/CNS)
The sex products industry is thriving in China, where more than half of the world's total adult toys are made and 70% of them were purchased in 2008, reports Chinese-language newspaper Southern Weekly.
Within the industry, sex dolls are one of the hottest sellers. A factory in eastern China's Zhejiang province churns out an average 800 dolls a day, the report said. Factory owner Ma Xujie told the weekly that the facility produced 70,000 dolls in 2010, worth a total of 5 million yuan (US$792,700). Most of the end products were sold in major cities in the southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, as well as in Beijing. Some were also exported to South Korea, Japan and Turkey, said Ma.
A high-quality doll costs 100 yuan (US$15.85), Ma said, while low-end models come in at less than 30 yuan (US$4.75). Some buyers order custom-made versions — resembling their favorite stars and god knows who else — which cost much more.
Factories that make the products are different from those in other industries in that they generally hire more experienced workers. The lack of factories producing similar end products means the industry requires a more specialized skill set. Most employees are young women, Ma added.
Ng Man-Lun, a Hong Kong-based sexologist, said it is estimated that more than 50% of sex products sold worldwide are made in China.
The Southern Weekly report said that since China's first sex shop in opened in Beijing in 1993, similar stores have been erected nationwide. Factories making products for these stores now number over 1,000.
Sales of adult toys in China passed 100 million yuan (US$15.9 million) in 2008, and the figure is expected to continue growing at 20% a year. A survey released last year found that most buyers were men, while most users were women. A customer spent an average 1,823 yuan (US$289) a year on sex products, a 30% increase from 2010. The majority of purchasers were between 20 and 50 years old.
The most popular sex products were sex toys, massage oil and lingerie, the report said. Purchasers of sex dolls were mainly people who live alone or have relatively low incomes, while buyers with higher educational credentials demand better quality, especially with respect to safety.
The industry is not without its problems, and safety is chief among them. A survey conducted by the China Sexology Association five years ago said that 80% of adult toys in China were unauthorized at the time, meaning they had no official permission numbers, production locations or production dates. The association warned of serious consequences if the production process — which includes material quality and sterilization — does not conform to safety standards.
Ma told the weekly that the industry is almost completely free of government regulations.