Sexual wellness market in India is pegged to be anywhere between Rs 1,200 crore and 1,500 crore. But in India where the law on obscenity is unclear, this is a risky business
The net savvy culture that has seeped into the country over the years has ensured that people queue up for the release of everything from latest mobiles to clothes and gadgets. The latest entrant to this trend is the sexual wellness category for Indian consumers.
Sexual wellness is a wide net and can cover everything from female hygiene and care, lightening and tightening creams, energy shots and male enhancement creams and sprays, pregnancy tests and intimate washes, condoms and lubes, toys (that are not obscene looking and can pass as shoulder/feet massager).
Market for sexual wellness products has evolved and though there is no verified research for this but based on projections and selling trends, it can be estimated to be anywhere between Rs 1,200 and 1,500 crore. One of the players in this category that is making the mark is IMBesharam.com, which sells vast range of adult products, fragrances, lingerie and gels.
Co-founded by two Indians Americans in 2011, IMBesharam had earlier roped in Indo-Canadian adult movie star-turned Bollywood actress Sunny Leone as the face of the brand. However, businesses like these are facing lot of challenges in the Indian market. There are a few challenges that we do face when doing business in Indian market, but the one that is the root of most problem is: challenges due to perception: This issue comes up every time we import our products or like to market our brand in print, tv or other online and offline media.
Since the laws are unclear and the perception of each individual in regards to applicability of these laws are quite vague and based on their own beliefs and hear-say, we have to face interruptions at all such junctures, where we have to explain why these products and our business model does not violate any laws that are in place," says Raj Armani, co- founder, IMBesharam.
We realise that these products have been a taboo all these years in India, and while it’s a boon for our customers to place the order online and not have to let anybody encroach their comfort levels or privacy zones, we as the brand have to fight many battles to keep our place under the sun," he adds.
Section 292 of the IPC for instance reads, “a book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation, figure or any other object, shall be deemed to be obscene if it is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect, or (where it comprises two or more distinct items) the effect of any one of its items, is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt person.”
The law does not really define obscene or lascivious, so even a picture of a man and woman kissing could technically be seen as obscene. So many sites prefer to play it safe by emphasising on sexual wellness and ensuring that the cover packaging is devoid of nudity.