I went to a party last month and it was rubbish. Yes, there was food, drink, and Cards Against Humanity, but the hosts didn’t get up once to change the music. In fact, they didn’t play a single CD all night. Instead, they ‘curated’ a Spotify playlist: “No Dale, you can’t interrupt it…”
One of the few good things about socialising in strangers’ houses used to be that you could see exactly what type of people they were, and whether you wanted to get to know them more, by scanning their record collection (I have never failed to gel socially with anyone who is fond of The Kinks’ criminally underrated 1970s’ albums, for instance). And the same result could be achieved by perusing your hosts’ book shelves or DVD collections.
At least it could until fairly recently. “Access is becoming the new ownership,” according to Brian Chesky, founder of Airbnb. He might have been talking about a different sector but a growing number of consumers prefer Spotify to CDs, Netflix to DVDs, and a Kindle to books.
And it’s easy to see why. As well as offering a much wider choice of content, and at a fraction of the price, going digital takes up almost no space – so that’s an end to hellish weekend trips to Ikea in search of storage ‘solutions’ too. Bonus.
The only downside is that retailers of these products are left feeling as redundant as agricultural workers in 1701, after Jethro Tull marched into work with a smug grin on his face and said: “Hey guys, come check out my awesome new Seed Drill! It’s the tits!”
But retailers of adult products could benefit from consumers going digital. Because according to Christian Jarrett, author of The Rough Guide to Psychology, around a third of people in the UK collect something – and at this point please follow me in the unlikely direction of Lovehoney’s customer forum. In a thread called ‘Size of your collection’, which was started on 8th March 2016, a user called Sex Squid wondered how big other people’s toy collections were. Discarding respondents who were vague in their replies (“Two bedside drawers full”, “Large”, “I dread to think”, “I’m not going to count” etc), the average figure*, taken from all (17, at the time of writing) users who mentioned a number, was 65.
Yes, these people are real enthusiasts (another thread, ‘What are you contemplating purchasing next?’ has over 4,000 replies) and some might be bragging, but even so… could sex toys be the new record collections? “Oh do come and see, Sophie! James has got the Tenga Flip Hole too!”
* The actual figures, stats fans, were: 17, 80, 20, 40, 50, 111, 16, 14, 24, 28, 70, 15, 7, 25, 25, 370, and 200.
This article first appeared in the April issue of ETO magazine.