Let’s talk about sex. Hell, let’s shout about it.
In a world where the subject can be seen as taboo, Cassandra and Jingjin aren’t afraid to be the conversation starters.
20 years of combined corporate experience, dominating roles (director, board advisor, entrepreneur- all well explored titles for them) and game-changing ambitions. ZaZaZu- Singapore’s newest sexual wellness brand. Slick, classy, and led by two pioneering women. Out with conservative jobs and in with sex and their city…
We understand that traditionally most Asians in Asia (especially before the 1980s) grew up with little or no sexual education whether at home, or at school – clearly your business is breaking boundaries. What barriers have you faced/do you face in speaking about your brand?
The misunderstanding and misconception of the term “sexual wellness” is the biggest hurdle in Asian society, as we grow up being told sex is “dirty” and “bad” and pleasure, especially female pleasure is “forbidden” and “slutty”, people associate sexual wellness immediately with “Porn”, “dodgy” sex toy stores. The fact that sexual wellbeing is as fundamental to our health as physical and mental wellness is completely ignored due to social stigma. Our sexuality is a living breathing part of who we are, it shapes our relationships, our self esteem and it connects our mind and our body. If we are struggling with a sexual difficulty it can be incredibly distressing. The taboo prevents us from seeking appropriate support and even when we do, there is a fundamental lack of solutions for all genders but particularly women.
On the business side, as “sexual wellness” is immediately associated with porn, many business aim to be “socially compliant”, therefore preclude working for / with the any business involves “sex”, and this is valid for all kind of business verticals, data insight firms, branding agencies, PR agencies and of course investors.
The biggest business hurdle is to legitimately promote sexual wellness on major digital marketing channels and platforms, google, facebook, Instagram, etc. We need these platforms to educate, engage with, and enhance experiences with our marketing messages. Instead, they prevent us from positively changing the narrative and driving the cultural conversation – that sexuality is something to be embraced, discovered and enjoyed, not hidden away. These giants continue with their double standard, as It is okay to advertise erectile dysfunction drugs, but it’s not ok to showcase a visually discreet vibrator for women.
SexTech is set to be a global 30 billion dollar business – how did you come to start a business in this space?
Despite of the huge business potential in this space, to build a business that helps women to establish intrinsic confidence has always been a calling for me. As I grew up in China, sexual education is close to zero, back in the 90s, there was no where to “google” or to ask question related to sex. So we all grew up in deep insecurity about the mystery of sex. I went to Germany when I was 16, and was fortunate to experience Western culture and how school and society openly approached sex-related topics to young adults which enabled more open communications. I realized later in my twenties that I have gained significant confidence as I was secure in my sexuality, I was clear about who I am therefore was daring to study and work in male-dominated industry. Women who have the confidence to communicate their sexual needs will be empowered to ask for that salary increase and exercise male-defined careers.
We understand that sex is somewhat of a taboo subject in Asia as its not talked about openly for fear of being branded ‘dirty’, ‘indecent’ or ‘improper’. How is Technology changing sex, intimacy and ‘shame’?
As sexual education is poor and female sexual pleasure is shaming, through technology women in Asia can now better discover their body, experiencing different sensation to find out their like and dislikes through sexual enhancement products like vibrator. You don´t need a man to enable / enhance your sexual journey, technology empowers, liberates and provides independency.
For couples it is even more exciting, according to our research with 500 participants across Asia, the frequency of sex drops over 55% after the 3rd. year, it drops over 72% after 8 years, couples became roommates, often sex in a marriage became an obligation, which leads to dissatisfaction and divorce. Technology helps to reconnect and keep the sparkle alive between couples.
And technology does not only enhance sexual pleasure and enables sex education, thanks to innovation, tools are also developed for detecting sex trafficking and sex crimes.
What are your thoughts on the current state of sex education in Asia?
Sex education can be controversial. Parents in Asia often believe that not teaching children about sex means they won’t have sex, but the evidence shows that the reverse is true. Not teaching children about sex doesn’t mean they won’t have sex. It means they are more likely to have unsafe, unprotected sex. It leaves them entering the world of adulthood unprepared.
Even in Singapore, due to lack of proper educational communication, over 80% of young adults between 18 and 22 have sex without condoms due to the “shame” of purchase in physical stores and lack of education for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). Research from around the world shows that comprehensive sexuality education in schools is absolutely the best way to prepare children for adulthood.
We have a responsibility to protect children in this region. We know that they are entering puberty and adolescence earlier than before. And that the transition from childhood to adulthood is getting longer. During this transition, girls and boys cannot be left alone to fend for themselves without the tools to make informed and safe choices. Sex education does this by changing behaviours. It leads to a later start of sexual activity with a reduced number of partners. It leads to increased contraceptive and condom use. And – importantly – research clearly shows that it does not lead to an increase in sexual activity among
Is SexTech heavily regulated?
Unfortunatley, it is not. The three huge disruption opportunities in tech today are sex, cannabis and blockchain. Investors are putting heavily money into the other two which leads to VCs and startups in cannabis and blockchain can afford to fund lobbyists, regulation change, public education initiatives. We need all of that in SexTech, because we need a new legal definition of adult content. Most of the laws , terms and conditions were written for porn, nothing has caught up with the internet, so nobody has driven (yet) a movement to re-examine the ‘adult’ clause in the light of SexTech or Sexual Education.
Do you think SexTech will become so mainstream that it will replace human connections?
I believe that SexTech will become less stigmatized and more mainstream during the next 5 to 10 years, just think about how mental wellness and yoga were perceived 20 years ago, yoga was considered only as soft stretching and mindfulness was perceived as a breathing exercise.
We are living in an ever accelerating world, where the next generation aim to live their lives the fullest through all aspects, women will ask more what they want, more importantly they will get what they want regardless of any boundaries. It will not be enough any more to just fulfil the obligation in the bedroom, it is the generation of discovery and they won´t let society tell them that pleasure is “bad” or only for men, they will explore, experiment and get the pleasure they deserve and not only close the gender gap in the boardroom but also the orgasm gap in the bedroom.
SexTech will never replace human connection, it will only be a vitamin towards intimacy but never a replacement of real human connection.
What has the feedback to ZaZaZu been like from people in Singapore so far?
This is the beauty about working in a controversial space, you have people who hate you and people who love you. Our advocators, whether it is customers who love our curated intimacy boxes, or business partners who share our vision, or individuals who understood our challenge in social media, relentlessly follow and share our stories. The encouragement and supports truly drives us to break barriers and move forward every single day.
You worked with a diverse, all-female MASHup team for your branding. What did this bring to the project?
The fact that the star MASHup team were all women, different life stages, skin color, cultural background, skill sets brought a holistic view of how to efficiently addressing women’s sexual needs across all life stages, covering cultural sensitivity and defining personas. The experience could not be more diverse, complimentary and amplifying. I could not imagine any other team set up could come up with a stronger brand positioning for ZaZaZu than the curated MashUp team, literally for women, by women.
A lot of focus has been on the future of work, future of businesses, future of the planet…. in your opinions, what’s the future of sex?
The future of sex will be like having great food with friends in a boutique sized restaurant, we enjoy it, embrace it and do it often. ZaZaZu will create the safe space where sex is healthy, pleasure is positive and education gaps are sealed.