[From Jon] The following is a guest post from UJ Ramdas hypnotherapist and author of The Five Minute Journal who, after speaking about this subject for an hour I forced to write this article. I’ve added in my thoughts as well in square brackets throughout. UJ’s full bio is below.
THIS POST IS ABOUT THE POWER OF SEX. It’s about how men and women work. It’s about porn. It’s about romance. It’s about how stuff gets viral.
Most importantly, it’s about how we go about fulfilling our needs as a species. And how there are better ways to meet these needs.
So let’s get started, shall we?
I don’t think I need to make the case for the popularity of porn among (mostly) guys.
Gary Wilson says that most boys seek pornography by age 10. He also makes a convincing case for the popularity of Internet porn being based off of the novelty of multiple partners. [From Jon: The is known as the Coolidge Effect]. Psychologist Philip Zimbardo claims that men now prefer the “asynchronistic Internet world to the spontaneous interaction that occurs in social relationships.”
I’m not a fan of beating a dead horse, but I do want to make it clear how important pornographic material has been in ushering in the internet. It has been responsible for the fast onset of online credit card processing, growth of the internet – from spam to video chat. 
Now let’s switch gears.
When was the last time you heard of someone reading a romance novel?
In case you’re not familiar with the genre, here’s Gilbert Gottfried reading 50 Shades of Grey.
You’ve probably seen someone reading/talking about 50 Shades of Grey. Maybe you’ve even seen women talking excitedly in hush tones about it. And you’ve definitely noticed romance novels at the top of the charts for books.
[From Jon: Perhaps most interesting to me is that it's now no surprise that 50 Shades of Grey is soft core pronography in book format. Soon after its release it could be argued that women reading it in public were doing so in response to the hype not knowing what the book was about. That's not the case anymore. While guys hide behind computer screens watching pornography, women have brought it out into the open.]
Here are a couple of reasons why 50 Shades of Grey is so popular and why it’s important when creating content for women vs. men.
Men and women (I’m speaking generally) have different delivery systems for arousal.
Men are usually visual. Women are usually auditory.
Men are aroused physically. Women are aroused emotionally.
[From Jon: Men are also reductive listeners wanting to get straight to the point while women are generally expansive listeners who respond better to stories and enjoy connecting with the protagonist.]
If you’re looking at this from a detached perspective, it’s pretty much the same thing.
Let me back this up with some numbers.
(source: Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2013)
- Romance fiction generated $1.438 billion in sales in 2012.
- Romance was the top-performing category on the best-seller lists in 2012 (across the NYT, USA Today, and PW best-seller lists).
- Romance fiction sales are estimated at $1.350 billion for 2013.
- 74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008. (source: RWA Reader Survey)
What’s really interesting is that the next most popular category in books (ironically) is religious/inspirational, which sold less than half of romance novels in 2012 (717.9 million).
Bottom line: Human needs make stuff go viral.
[From Jon: It's also well-documented that women interact, purchase, and share more than men. When creating materials to share, a story with a message is more effective for women while men need visual stimulation. Consider fitness pages where women are moved more by inspirational stories and transformations while men react to sexualized imagery.]
Men and women have needs. They will go to extraordinary lengths to provide for them. Some treat it as distraction. An escape. A release.
For some, it becomes an addiction. An addiction to fantasy.
Some find it online. Some find it in books. Some find it in their imagination.
[From Jon: Getting women to connect emotionally to a piece of content before reading a story is a hugely effective method for content marketing. I've spoken about this topic before and call it the "priming system". It can be done by adding an image that you know your target demographic has already formed an emotional associative connection with. An example is an image of a palm tree which, for most, symbolizes freedom and helps people disconnect from wherever they are for a minute putting them in a primed emotional state before reading your content.]
The most fulfilled humans find it in their relationships. If they stray too far away from meeting their needs from other human beings, let’s just say it gets complicated.
How are you meeting your needs? Wait… don’t answer that.
About the Author
UJ Ramdas is passionate about bringing together practical psychology and business to create a better world. With a background in Behavioural science, Marketing and Hypnosis, he’s consulted with (several hundred) clients, bringing them from confusion to clarity. Currently based out of Toronto, Canada, he’s a big fan of the wilderness, eastern meditative practices and a good cup of tea.
Photo credit: photo credit: dollen