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To the Editors of American Demographics:

Could you help me find information regarding the demographics of those who use adult novelty products?

Ty Chu

Phoenix, Ariz.

Dear Ty:

While this is certainly the raciest request we've received to date, it doesn't mean we're not up to the task of unmasking those who use adult novelty products or — as they're more commonly known — sex toys.

After weeks of digging for nationally representative data on users of sex toys, we came across the National Sexual Health Survey (NSHS), a telephone poll of 7,700 adults between the ages of 18 and 90 (by far the most ambitious representative sex survey to date) conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, in 1995 and 1996. According to the poll, 78 percent of all respondents said they were sexually active, meaning they had partner sex in the 12 months prior to the survey. Of those, fully 10 percent of sexually active adults use vibrators and/or other sex toys in partner sex. (The percent of adults who use sex toys in solo sex is not available.)

Sex toys are most widely used in partner sex by adults ages 30 to 49. According to the NSHS, 13 percent of those age thirty- to- fortysomething admit they use them, compared with just 8 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds and 9 percent of 50- to 59-year-olds. No surprise, adults 60 and older who came of age before the sexual revolution are the least likely to bring a sex toy to bed. Only 4 percent of this age group reported using sex toys during partnered sex.

Couples with high household incomes are notably more likely to get it on with a sex toy than those with low incomes. Specifically, 13 percent of adults with a combined annual income of $60,000 or more report using sex toys, but only 7 percent of those with household incomes of less than $20,000 say the same. On a related note, 11 percent of college graduates also say they have used a sex toy, compared with 8 percent of adults who have not obtained a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Marital status is another important factor to consider when considering who's getting kinky in the bedroom. Whereas only 9 percent of married adults and 10 percent of never-married singles admit to using sex toys, fully 1 in 7 sexually active adults who are either separated, divorced or widowed (15 percent) say they use them. Says survey researcher Joe Catania: “People who are separated, divorced or widowed are throwing off an old self and building a new one.�

By and large, the most predictive factor for zeroing in on a sex toy user is sexual orientation. Practicing gays, lesbians and bisexuals — those who have overcome the societal taboo of same-sex sex — are nearly three times as likely to experiment with sex toys than heterosexuals (27 percent versus 10 percent).

— John Fetto, Research Editor


To the Editors of American Demographics:

I am looking for demographic and psychographic information on Baby Boomers and their interest in college sports — specifically Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) basketball. I need statistics on the percentage of adults who watch college games on TV and attend college games in person.

Stacy Nelson

r+m creative

Cary, N.C.

Dear Stacy:

There are several sources for data on Americans' interest in college athletics. For starters, there's the ESPN Sports Poll, a nationally representative telephone survey of 24,000 Americans age 12 and older that is conducted annually by market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres. The results of the latest poll reveal that in 2000, 80 percent of Americans watched a college basketball game on television and 24 percent attended a game in person. Attendance rates ranged from a high of 27 percent in the West North Central states (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota) to a low of 19 percent in the Pacific region (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington). In the South Atlantic states, where the ACC calls home, 22 percent of residents went to a college basketball game in 2000.

Residents of the East North Central region (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin), where 84 percent of residents watched a game on television, were the most likely to cheer on their college team from the couch. But only 76 percent of those in the West South Central region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas) tuned in to a college basketball game on the tube. Fans in the South Atlantic watched games on TV at the same rate as Americans overall: 80 percent.

As far as obtaining ACC specific numbers, we went to New York City-based Simmons Market Research Bureau. According to Simmons, an estimated 9 percent of all adults, or 17.4 million Americans, watched a televised ACC basketball game in 2000. Men ages 35 to 54 (the closest approximation to the Boomer generation) comprised fully a third (33 percent) of all those who cheered on the Boilermakers, Blue Devils, Tar Heels et al, while women of the same age accounted for barely 1 in 10 ACC fans. Of the Boomer men who tuned in during the 1999-2000 season, 8 percent watched only one game, 11 percent watched two games, 12 percent watched three games and 70 percent watched four or more games. Boomer gals are more likely than guys to catch only a few games, with 19 percent reporting that they watched just one game in 2000; another 19 percent said they saw only two games. One in 10 said they watched three games and 52 percent caught four games or more. Maybe they're just bigger fans of the Pac-10.

— John Fetto, Research Editor


Why do you use sex toys?

I enjoy them 82%
They add variety to sex 77%
My lover enjoys them 70%
They're sexually adventurous 59%
They make the orgasm more pleasurable 38%
Source: Xandria. From its database of more than 1.5 million customers, adult novelty marketer Xandria selected a geographically representative, random sample of 1,000 people for its “Toys in the Sheets� survey conducted in 1996. Of the 1,000 survey recipients, 246 (25%) returned reasonably complete surveys


Annual sales for adult novelty retailer Adam & Eve reached $90 million in 2001. Here's a percentage of the type of merchandise sold by the company during the month February:

Vibrators 22%
Stimulators (non-electric) 18%
Videos 17%
DVDs 12%
Toys and novelties 10%
Lubricants, lotions and oils 9%
Women's apparel/negligees 7%
Condoms 3%
Men's apparel and accessories 2%
Source: Adam & Eve


Avid fans of ACC basketball are more likely than non-fans to say that they are brave and less likely to say that they are creative.*

Percent of respondents who see themselves as…

Confident 62% 50%
Brave 53% 42%
Funny 64% 54%
Straightforward 58% 48%
Egocentric 16% 11%
Kind 75% 71%
Absentminded 19% 22%
Creative 47% 50%
*“Avid fans� are those adults who watched four or more ACC basketball game on television in the past year. “Non-fans� are those who did not watch any ACC basketball games on television in the past year.
Source: Simmons Market Research Bureau


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