An exploration of intimacy and desire during isolation.

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to reverberate around the globe, it has presented many with the opportunity to take more thoughtful stock of their personal, professional, and physical lives to better understand what’s changed, what’s remained the same, and what needs to improve going forward. And this is no different when it comes to the need to talk about sex. 

Our quantitative exploration (inclusive of a proprietary survey) has illuminated an eye-opening new reality that is equal parts startling and hopeful. Understanding this new reality equips us to move one step closer to our ultimate goal as researchers and strategists – to gain a deeper, and more empathetic understanding of the whole person – both inside and outside of the bedroom. 


Our work yields insights into how sex lives have been impacted in today’s reality. A marked shift in tone in how people are describing their sex lives currently vs. 6 months ago. 51% of people think their sex life has “remained the same,” for some it’s improved (15%), but for 34% of respondents…the situation has gotten worse. Many blame fatigue, proximity, desirability, tension, and the ongoing existential crisis that is life during a pandemic. So, we decided to dig deeper and (being ever the optimists) hunted for a silver lining.  Our study revealed three distinct sexual mindsets that people are having in response to COVID-19. 

Waning Desire

Desire…but no Flesh

Exploratory & Experimental

These mindsets manifest themselves in varying degrees across relationships statuses, but (cue silver lining) one of them transcends all relationships and living situations; some form of exploration and experimentation. 

Across the board, the biggest opportunity and shift in people’s sexual lives moving forward is the increase in “discussing physical and sexual health with their sex partner(s)” (32% expect to do this more in the future)

These pandemic times have created a sexual reset for many. They are choosing to view this time as an opportunity – to look inward and examine their own needs and pleasure, to celebrate the increased access to their partners, and, most bravely, to find innovative and creative ways to maintain or experience intimacy (whether solo or with others) during these times regardless of living situation. We take solace in this silver lining, and, more to the point of the kind of work we love doing…recognizing the impact this mindset might have on brands inside and outside the categories of sex and relationships. 

Explore our findings in the report HERE and watch the exploratory film below.


The Sound Advice

If you are a brand selling products or services in this space we think there are a few key questions you should be asking yourselves at the moment:

1. How have people’s lifestyle changes influenced our brand health?
2. Are there new needs we should be meeting? (e.g. openness to experimentation)
3. What is going to ‘stick’ and what is not and can we do anything about that?
4. What is acceptable, potentially more entertaining and/or more effective in a virtual world vs. in-person?
5. Am I a brand that meets people where they are – including those just starting on their sexual journey – or am I targeted to those with more experience in the pleasure industry?

Enjoyed the study and want to learn more? Give us a shout at or contact Jerusha Bennett, Senior Director, Brand Strategy & Innovation, who was leading the study. 

This isn’t the first time we studied sexuality. In addition to past work with clients in the sexual health space, The Sound’s team has written several series in the past based on interviews with people in the sex and pleasure industry…including the taboo subject of “Sex in India” as well as interviewing Kate Monro about her book on the cultural impact of losing one’s virginity.

To learn more about the methodology of the study, read this short introduction to Creative Analytics and check out our new Motivation 101 Toolkit, specially designed to help companies harness the power of human motivations to fuel & grow their brand.

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