Sex-toy maker with Ottawa roots sees surge in online sales

Womanizer ad
Online sales of WOW Tech Group's Womanizer products were up more than 250 per cent in Canada last month compared with 2019, the company says. Photo courtesy WOW Tech Group.

A sex-toy company with Ottawa roots says online sales of its products are booming as more and more people practise “self-care” of the most intimate kind during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Berlin-based WOW Tech Group, which has more than 40 employees in the National Capital Region, said Thursday that online orders of its Womanizer brand of intimacy devices skyrocketed 263 per cent in March over a year earlier, more than double the company’s forecasts.

Online sales of the product in the United States also jumped last month, increasing a healthy 152 per cent year-over-year.

“At a time like this, I think taking care of yourself is very important,” said Stephanie Keating, WOW Tech’s Ottawa-based head of marketing for North America. “If our products can help people get through a time like this, then we are very happy about that.”

Keating said that while sales from its in-store retail channel have plummeted since sex shops were ordered to close down as part of widespread efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, many of those retailers are reporting a significant boost in online orders. 

The company recently launched a major billboard campaign in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal with ads featuring an image of the Womanizer and urging people to “Stay home.” WOW Tech says it’s also preparing to unveil more products later this year, including a new line of toys specifically for men.

WOW Tech Group was created in 2018 after German firm Womanizer Group Management GmbH acquired Ottawa-based sex-toy maker Standard Innovation.

Founded by former Nortel employees Bruce and Melody Murison, Standard Innovation grew into a company with tens of millions of dollars in annual sales thanks to its popular We-Vibe toy, a small, C-shaped wireless vibrator that women can wear internally. 

In 2017, Standard Innovation settled a U.S. class action lawsuit that alleged the firm was, unbeknownst to its customers, collecting users’ private data through its smartphone-enabled vibrators. In a settlement, the Ottawa company agreed to revise its privacy policies and pay out $5 million to complainants.