Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Material World: Let's Talk About Sex

Inside the $15 billion sex toy industry

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Every other week, hosts Jenny Kaplan and Lindsey Rupp guide you through the consumer universe, examining what's going on with all the things people buy.

Once taboo, the subject of sexual pleasure is widely discussed in pop culture today. Changing societal norms have also transformed the sex toy industry into a $15 billion market.

This week, Lindsey and Jenny talk with Phil Harvey -- who had to fight for the survival of his adult store Adam & Eve -- about how the industry has changed in the last 40 years. Even today, the stigma surrounding sex creates problems for businesses. Babeland founder Claire Cavanah describes being "fired" by her bank and struggling to get loans. And while technology allowed Alexandra Fine and Janet Lieberman to use crowd-funding to make a new toy, rules governing online advertising make it difficult to advertise their business, Dame Products.

Even so, demand for better products and experiences keeps increasing. In 2005, just three of 10 U.S. women had a vibrator; by 2014, that figure had jumped to seven in 10, according to one study. And for those looking to cash in, the market is growing globally, too.

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