The days when the sex industry believed only women were in desperate need of self-pleasuring aids appear to be long gone.
Nowadays when one walks into a sex shop, aisles offering male masturbation tools are just as bountiful as those catering to women.
At least in Japan.
Seven years after Koichi Matsumoto left his car salesmen job to start “something that hasn’t been done before” and launched Tenga “New Adult Concept,” his company has sold over 15 million male masturbation units worldwide.
Simply put, Tenga has cornered the global market on male masturbation, along the way shattering conventional wisdom that men are perfectly content to do it without artificial help.
To paraphrase Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink: people don’t really know what they want when the thing they want doesn’t yet exist.
Like artificial vaginas, for example.
According to Matsumoto, his big idea came to him after he walked into a sex shop and realized that the available products for men severely lagged behind toys for women.
He explains his epiphany on the Tenga website:
“There were so many improvements I could think to make. There is the possibility here to create something revolutionary. This is the moment when I decided to commit myself. Now that I go back and think about it, it all happened in a matter of 15 minutes or so. This is the beginning of TENGA.”
When he launched his first prototype in 2005 — with the bold but prescient motto, “The future of masturbation is now” — Tenga became an almost overnight sensation in Japan.
Tenga sold over 1 million units its first year.
But Matsumoto didn't stop there.
Today, Tenga customers can choose from a popular line of disposable masturbation products with colorful names like Tenga Onacups, Deep Throat Cup, Soft Tube Cup and Double Hole Cup, among others.
The one product that has made Tenga a household name in may countries around the world, however, is the Tenga Egg. Debuting in 2008, Tenga has sold approximately 6.5 million of the egg-shaped disposable masturbators.
But Tenga is hardly alone in the Japanese market.
There are now several companies, like Groomin for example, now targeting a growing industry that tops 200 billion yen ($2.5 billion) a year, according to Tokyo Reporter.
So far, male masturbation devices are selling mostly in the developed world.
But Tenga is already targeting other lucrative markets, especially China.
And with good reason.
If there is anything like the ideal customer for Tenga, he must live in a nation of 600 million men, where there are not enough women to go around.