Health Products For The Horny
Sexual stimulants and supplements or any product that aids in the enhancement of sexual arousal has been a growing business over the last decade and a segment of the adult industry that has attracted traditionally nonenhancement companies to jump on the bandwagon and create and manufacture products to take advantage of consumers’ unending appetitive for physical thrills.
The segment is unique in that it has almost foolproof built-in marketing. Enhancement products not only “enhance” the sexual experience, but they can also help with dysfunctions. Penis too small? There’s a pill for that. Vagina too dry? There’s a pill for that too. And if you’ve simply lost your sex drive there are scores of supplements, drinks, gels and lubes from natural herbs like yohimbe and horny goat weed to synthetic semen secretion sweeteners that promise to get you back in the sack with desire and energy to spare.
There are even hybrid products that mix commonly known stimulants like coffees and chocolate with other natural boosters.
And not only has the industry expanded from being “aids” for the sexually challenged, but since the introduction of Viagra (known generically as sildenafil), and the more recent uber marketing of natural or herbal-based products like ExtenZe on TV commercials, products that were once considered “under the counter and embarrassing” for most have joined the ranks of sensory stimulants on par with liquor, caffeine and whatever else gets one “in the mood.”
From all indications the industry is on the cusp of exploding into a mega-business for a few reasons: the constant appeal of sexy promise (i.e. the adult nature of the products); the shaking out of a number of shady manufacturers and distributors who have been shut down by the FDA; and the increased mainstream marketing that’s combining the promise of sexual satisfaction with trendy consumer interests like rock concerts and MMA (mixed martial arts events).
One of the more progressive companies in the market, RockHard Weekend, a division of RockHard Labs, producers of RockHard Weekend stimulants is positioning itself to take the lead by offering safe products for the consumer and an amped-up branding campaign that will sustain distributors and retailers.
RockHard president of sales, Joshua Maurice is very enthusiastic about what he calls the “pill industry” and feels it’s on the verge of breaking huge. What’s most interesting is that although Maurice’s company has successfully courted mainstream by being featured on the cover of Forbes magazine, have sponsored MMA events and are distributed in retail stores like CVS, the potential for the entire adult industry seems to be unlimited.
Nearly all the companies in the sexual enhancement and supplement business interviewed for this article agree that we’re just seeing the tip pf the iceberg. But they caution that the “anything goes” mentality toward the business will be fading fast.
Maurice tempers his enthusiasm by saying most of the products are less than reputable, and some are downright unsafe.
What Maurice and many of his peers in the sexual enhancement business reveal is that a majority of the products on the market is not comprised of natural stimulant herbal ingredients as advertised but are “spiked” with Viagra-like chemicals called “analogs” that are illegal and could cause serious medical problems and even death. He noted that 95 to 99 percent of the pills on the market are illegal.
Some companies will buy products from China that include herbal ingredients mixed in vats containing Viagra. The products are shipped to the U.S. where they’re packaged by unscrupulous companies, some of which have suffered the consequences of being shut down or have had the principles jailed.
Maurice noted Stamina RX as a product that had a great run but was cited for being spiked. Although the product is still being marketed, according to a report on WebMD it was recalled last year by a manufacturer for containing Benzamidenafil — a non FDA approved ingredient belonging to the same class of drugs as the active ingredients in Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. The supplement was not listed on the Stamina-Rx label.
“Benzamidenafil is not FDA-approved, and poses a threat to consumers because benzamidenafil may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs (such as nitroglycerin) and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates and may be most susceptible to adverse effects from this product,” stated a Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals news release posted on the FDA’s web site.
And the FDA is cracking down. Maurice said that it used to be if you had a pill-making machine you were in business. But now, GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) are being enforced and he expects a huge amount of cease and desist orders issued.
MD Science Labs Vice president and co-owner Ruth Chatfield, who is a trained clinical nurse, concurs. Her company has been in the business for more than 11 years and she said that the business is a wide-open territory for things good and bad.
“It’s the wild west when it comes to these types of products. Every year the industry grows more and more, but with all of the interest always comes some companies that are not reputable and who will try to exploit the consumer,’ she said.
Chatfield noted that since the introduction of Viagra for men and the more recent consumer marketing initiatives like ExtenZe and others, the marketplace mindset is embracing stimulants like never before.
Once Viagra was deemed safe, and more importantly worked for men with erectile dysfunction the doors were open wide in the public consciousness. It’s no longer the days of “Spanish Fly” — a historic and some say mythical pill or mixture that was said to substantially increase a person’s sexual libido, sometimes to dizzying heights.
Today, so many men have successfully used Viagra and its counterparts like Cialis and others, that it was natural for the marketplace to create new products that were easier to obtain (no prescription necessary) and lot cheaper than the $7-10 per pill cost of a Viagra-like drug.
What’s more, the fear of buying black market Viagra over the Internet is erased.
So a new industry was born that touted one could get the sexual boost they desired without a prescription, for less money, over the counter and with cool sounding names like MD Science Lab’s Max Hard, RockHard Weekend’s RockHard Weekend, The Screaming O’s Rock On or BeaMonstar’s now household name, ExtenZe.
“If it wasn’t for supplements like ExtenZe and Enzyte the enhancement industry wouldn’t be where it is today” BeaMonstar’s owner Jeff Bolanos said. But the industry is growing, it’s not all about going from six to noon any more and BeaMonstar is on the front lines with supplements such as Sweeten69 (an all natural secretion sweetener) and Xplozion (a male ejaculate volumizer).
But Chatfield also cautioned that with the proliferation of enhancers come myriad pitfalls for consumers and shady companies simply trying to ride the wave of hot products.
“I know from experience that there are good products out there and bad. I can tell the good ones from a mile away because I’ve been trained in this area and I know that any time you see a herbal enhancement product with less than 500 milligrams of an ingredients, or costs less that $7.99 or $8.99 per dose, you need to be suspect,” she said.
She also said that herbal products usually last about eight hours maximum so any product that lasts or claims to last longer than that should be avoided.
Like Maurice, Chatfield believes that the FDA is getting wise to the proliferation of sexual enhancement products that are not regulated and some are surely spiked. She said about 38 products have recently been recalled by the FDA because of their shoddy ingredients. “Some of these had about 400 milligrams of stuff like cinnamon and wolfberry extract which by themselves won’t have any effect. What the ‘cheaters’ are doing are buying herbal product from overseas and marketing them here with sexy names.”
She added that the FDA has added some 150 inspectors whose job it will be to enforce the illegal production of spiked supplements.
Beside the fact that the practice is illegal and deceptive it’s downright dangerous to consumers. “There could be 50 to 100 milligrams of foreign Viagra hidden in some of these products and of course they’ll work as a stimulant but the results could be deadly for people who take more than the recommended dose or worse mix them with cheap highs like chemical inhalers called ‘poppers.’”
Chatfield said there’s also a misconception among consumers about dosage. “If one’ll get me horny two will be better and three even better than that. That can mean real trouble with products that are not FDA approved,” she said.
MD Science Lab’s products are manufactured in a “synergistic” fashion according to Chatfield. She explained that the company uses three to 15 different herbal organic ingredients that include herbs like yohimbine and horny goat weed (epimedium) — all traditionally known for their aphrodisiac-like properties and none that are spiked.
Both MD Science Labs and RockHard Weekend are adamant about using only quality ingredients not only for safety reasons but because once GMP are standardized the bio-chemical research information can be shared among reputable companies to create better and safer products. It’s a matter of sound business practices and the cornerstone for companies in it for the long haul.
The Screaming O’s Keith Caggiano agrees that a good portion of the adult sexual enhancement market is in fact spiked with ingredients that are unregulated and in fact simply don’t work even if they’re not.
“It’s a chaotic market to say the least that’s grown from the need to enhance what is normally lacking, usually that meant a man’s small penis. Products like ExtenZe and others were designed with this idea in mind to help with erections and size,” Caggiano said.
But as the market continued to mature, the notion that these products not only helped with difficulties and shortcomings but could also be used to “enhance” the already pleasurable aspect of having sex. Clever marketers realized that the time was ripe to change consumer’s perceptions of enhancement products so they would be thought of as sexy products to help enjoy sex.
“We had a different approach in branding our products. It’s all about having fun when men and women who enjoy our products. The psychology behind our Rock On products is to encourage the recreational use of the product. It’s a party mentality,” Caggiano said.
“Sexual performance, stamina, desire and pleasure” are the package buzzwords on Screaming O’s products. And Caggiano maintained that those words don’t only apply to men. Rock On is available in “two-shot” packages for men and women, marketing that’s in line with the company’s “fun and party” strategy designed to attract couples involvement.
Like MD Lab’s Rock On, Screaming O products use only natural herbs like Maca root and L-argenine along with the standards including yohimbe derivatives and horny goat weed.
Maurice’s RockHard Weekend marketing strategy runs along the same lines but is focused even more on mainstream penetration. “We want our products to be rock stars like Red Bull. This will help us in our mainstream marketing and benefit everyone who works with us by creating residual income for currently strapped adult [DVD] companies. Our recognized brand will create foot traffic for adult stores and help them keep repeat buyers who know our RockHard Weekend,” he said.
RockHard Weekend pills use some ten different ingredients including white willow bark, theobromine, balmay extract, tribulus, Tongkat Ali, horny goat weed and others — all herbal and proven to work, according to Maurice. “It’s different than a prescription formula. We can’t compete with prescription-strength Viagra so we created something to provide our customers a boost in both performance and confidence,” Maurice said.
He added that adult stores may not know the pitfalls of selling spiked enhancers because they look like simple supplements. “By selling legit products like RockHard Weekend we’ll help adult stores keep their licenses too,” Maurice said.
Much of the hoopla about sexual enhancement originates from men’s products, especially since the advent of Viagra . But as women continue to openly embrace their sexuality and accept porn and adult products, the field of female enhancement products is becoming more attractive as a couples’ buy.
MD Science Labs’ Chatfield notes her company’s Swiss Navy stimulating gel for women is an up and coming product.
Although she admits women’s sales are not nearly as popular as men’s’ especially in adult stores, they are growing.
“Women’s products only account for about 30 percent of overall sales. It could be that women are just not as accustomed to using stimulants yet — but we’re very optimistic about women embracing stimulants,” she said.
Maurice agrees as his company is on the cusp of a major market score. RockHard Labs recently debuted Pandora, a female sexual enhancer, and is “excited by its ability to rival RockHard Weekend by giving women a tingling alternative to a typically male-centric category.”
But women are savvy consumers so clever marketing alone may not be the ticket to get women to completely embrace a new product, especially since adult consumerism among women is fairly new.
Secretly Pink’s director of business development, Rebecca Powley whose company produces the line of all natural Intimate organics lubes said that she’s also very enthusiastic about women being regular consumers for adult enhancement products but cautions that retailers need to know what’s good and what’s bad or women simply won’t buy.
“The market is overflowing with enhancing products that contain alum, menthol and parabens. The average woman is more savvy than her mother was in terms of what they put on and in their bodies. Intimate Organics provides women with an alternative to these chemicals by using natural, but still effective ingredients. That’s what makes the difference and what the adult industry needs to embrace,” Powley said.
BeaMonstar’s Bolanos agrees with Powley and said all of his company’s products, for men and women are clinically tested and approved before they ever make it to the bedroom.