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Michelle's corner

Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)

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The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter
Greg Toppo
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How big is the UK kink audience?

Did you know that kink was roughly three times as popular as good food?

Everyone knows that sex sells, but as a specialist author dealing in the steam room, how big is the market?

It won't surprise you to know that getting anything like a handle on the figures, is extremely difficult, but I have some which I think are reasonable and not too badly skewed. And no, I'm not going to be quoting the sales of Shades!

We start with Olympia in London, which hosts various events. I'm going to focus here, on two different three day events.

The much publicised BBC Good Food Show pulled in 28,000 visitors over its show in 2012. What was billed as a "rise in visitor numbers," actually saw a fall in visitors the following year. (I corresponded with the organisers to get figures) - http://www.exhibitionnews.co.uk/newsdetails/2657/bbc-good-food-show-london-tastes-rise-in-visitor-numbers

In contrast, you have the show, "Erotica," which saw its peak in 2006 of 82,000 visitors. It was also reported on the BBC that, the year prior, London had 70,00 attendance (although the North launch of Erotica did less well.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erotica_UK - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/4401237.stm

What killed Erotica? I was present at two of the shows and while it started with the innovative manufacturers in the UK, (eg. Fetters) it slipped too heavily in to the mainstream market; the kind of thing you can pick up in your local sex shop. No wonder it died.

Incidentally, I was also at the Good Food show in 2012.

So from these figures, it is reasonable to conclude that kink is roughly three times as popular as good food.

When it comes to the population of London as a whole...

"... but had declined to 7,192,091 at the 2001 Census. However, the population then grew by just over a million between the 2001 and 2011 Censuses, to reach 8,173,941 in the latter enumeration." - htps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London#Demography

...that means that during the height of the Erotica show, roughly 1% of the population of London came through its doors.


Getting hold of national statistics is slightly more difficult. At the time of writing, alt.com claims 440,091 UK people (and couples) on its dating site. I have seen that figure rise and fall; and on some occasions it has breached the half a million mark.

I was a member of this site a good few years ago. They did a, "bait and switch," running a free service and then going to a paid service. To send an unsolicited message to someone on the service, you have to pay; and in order to get a glimpse of the charges, you have to register. I didn't stick around.

Hardly any of the people I know in the scene were ever on alt.com. There are other sites around. TVChix and FetLife to name but two; however they don't seem to readily publish actual numbers. But ... they are mostly free; "Fet," as it's known for short, charges for access to longer history trails rather than restricting messaging capabilities.

So, accounting for people who won't pay for services while there are free community resources available, for people who are now coupled and no longer searching, the number of community meet ups (known as, "munches") which are local to many of us; and the number of people that I know personally who have never been on Alt ... it is reasonable to assume that a conservative estimate puts the figures of people in the UK, who are in to kink, at least in the low millions.

That's the kind of audience you're dealing with.